SIERRA LEONE: ECOWAS condemns rebels 1998.12.29

SIERRA LEONE: ECOWAS condemns rebels 1998.12.29

SIERRA LEONE: West African Ministers condemn rebels

ABIDJAN, 29 December (IRIN) - (The following is a special update on the situation in Sierra Leone. Your attention is drawn to the full ECOWAS communique, a US statement on Sierra Leone and a statement by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the situation in the country which have already moved on the IRIN-WA-Extra service.)

West African foreign ministers ended an extraordinary meeting in Abidjan yesterday (Monday) strongly condemning rebels in Sierra Leone for the atrocities committed against the civilian population.

In a communique issued at the end of the day-long meeting, the ministers also appealed to the rebels to accept the legitimacy of the government in Freetown, stop fighting and take advantage of an amnesty offer by President Alhaji Ahmed Tejan Kabbah.

Meanwhile, General Timothy Shelpidi, the Commander of the West African intervention force in Sierra Leone, ECOMOG, told IRIN today (Tuesday) that his forces had made a tactical withdrawal from Makeni, a town 140 km northeast of the capital Freetown, "because we were over-stretched".

The capital itself was safe, he said. The rebels had been split into small groups by ECOMOG attacks and were now raiding people's houses for food.

The Committee - made up of Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria and Togo - expressed "total support" for the government in Freetown. It called on the UN Security Council to reaffirm support for the government and for the international community to ensure that the rebel knew they would "never be accorded recognition as the legitimate government of Sierra Leone".

The Committee appealed to all countries that have pledged troops to the West African intervention force, ECOMOG, to honour their commitments immediately. Only Ghana, Guinea and Nigeria have fielded troops in Sierra Leone. The committee called on the UN, OAU, EU, and the Contact Group on Sierra Leone to provide transport and communications to ECOMOG to improve mobility and the force's effectiveness.

The ministers condemned the presence of mercenaries in Sierra Leone and countries providing support to the rebels. ECOMOG Force Commander General Timothy Shelpidi and the Sierra Leone Foreign Minister Sam Banya accused Liberia of aiding the rebels. But the Liberian Foreign Minister denied his county's involvement.

The ministers called on Togo, the Chairman of ECOWAS, to take the initiative in developing "genuine rapprochement" between the presidents of Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Abidjan, 29 December 1998, 12:20 GMT


Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 12:43:33 +0000 (GMT) From: UN IRIN - West Africa <> Subject: SIERRA LEONE: ECOWAS condemns rebels 1998.12.29

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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