WEST AFRICA: ECOWAS communique on Sierra Leone 1998.12.29

WEST AFRICA: ECOWAS communique on Sierra Leone 1998.12.29


Extraordinary meeting of the Committee of Five on Sierra Leone.

Abidjan, 28 December 1998

Final Communique

Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Committee of Five on Sierra Leone met in extraordinary session on 28 December in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, to review recent developments in Sierra Leone. They were joined by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Togo, the current ECOWAS chair.

2. The following members of the committee attended the meeting:
- Republic of Cote d'Ivoire - Republic of Ghana - Republic of Guinea - Republic of Liberia - Federal Republic of Nigeria - Togolese Republic - Burkina Faso in its capacity as OAU Chairman - The ECOWAS Executive Secretary

3. Also attending the meeting as observers were:
- Republic of Sierra Leone, represented by the Minister of Foreign Affairs - The Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General and Representative of the United Nations Observers Mission in Sierra Leone (UNOMSIL) - The Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees - The US President's Special Envoy to Liberia - The Representative of the Government of the United Kingdom - ECOMOG Force Commander

4. Speeches were read at the opening session by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cote d'Ivoire, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the Togolese Republic and the ECOWAS Executive Secretary.

5. All speakers were unanimous in their commendation of the initiative taken by His Excellency, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, Head of State, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria and His Excellency General Gnassingbe Eyadema to Togo, current chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government in convening this extraordinary session of the Committee of Five on Sierra Leone. They stressed the need to find a speedy solution to the alarming situation in Sierra Leone posed by the renewed fighting by men of the junta and the RUF. They stated that the new development should be viewed with grave concern by all ECOWAS countries and the international community, given its attendant potential for engulfing the entire sub-region in crisis and compromising the development efforts of ECOWAS Member States.

6. A message of support from the OAU Secretary-General to the Committee of Five was read. The meeting took note of the reports presented by the ECOMOG Force Commander, the Foreign Affairs Minister of Sierra Leone, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General, the representative of UNOMSIL, the representative of the Government of the United Kingdom and the Special Representative of the President of the United States.

7. These reports indicated that the rebels (AFRC/RUF) had upgraded both their troop strength and equipment in violation of the embargo on arms importation and now had more mobile forces on the ground. Both the Force Commander and the Sierra Leone ForeignMinister implicated Liberia in providing military support to the rebels. The Liberian Foreign Minister denied any involvement of his country in Sierra Leone and called for an international investigation.

8. The meeting was also informed that mercenaries were fighting alongside the rebels, in contravention of international law.

9. After deliberation, the Committee decided to revive its activities which had been suspended since the return to constitutional order in Sierra Leone on 10 March 1998. It was also agreed that Togo should have automatic right of membership of the Committee and preside over the Committee of Six thus created, for the duration of the country's tenure as the Chair of ECOWAS.

10. The Committee of Six on Sierra Leone:

a) appealed to the AFRC/RUF rebels to cease fighting immediately, to lay down their arms and to recognise the government of President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah as the legitimate government in Sierra Leone.

b) expressed total support for the legitimate government of Sierra
Leone and for its efforts to restore peace and stability to Sierra Leone.

c) called on the UN Security Council to reaffirm support for the
legitimate Government in Sierra Leone and for full compliance with its resolutions on Sierra Leone.

d) urged the international community to leave the rebels in no
doubt that their activities are doomed to failure as they would never be accorded recognition as the legitimate government of Sierra Leone.

e) commended Ghana, Guinea and Nigeria for having committed troops
to ECOMOG Forces in Sierra Leone.

f) launched an appeal to all ECOWAS countries which had pledged
troops to honour their commitments without delay.

g) called on the UN, OAU, European Union, and the Contact Group
on Sierra Leone to expedite the provision of logistic support, particularly transport and communication equipment to ECOMOG, to improve its mobility and effectiveness.

h) expressed grave concern at the aggression being perpetrated against the Republic of Sierra Leone and strongly condemned the activities of the countries which are providing support to the rebels in Sierra Leone, in violation of the decisions of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government and the United Nations Security Council.

i) condemned the presence of mercenaries in Sierra Leone, and
demanded the immediate withdrawal of all mercenaries from that country, the sub-region and the African continent.

j) strongly condemned the atrocities, particularly the mutilation
being perpetrated by the rebels against the civilian population in Sierra Leone.

k) called on the Chairman of ECOWAS to embark on initiatives to
develop true and genuine rapprochement between the Heads of State of Sierra Leone and Liberia in order to create mutual confidence and commitment to ensuring stability in the sub-region.

l) resolved to resume its activities and to deploy all measures
necessary to re-establish dialogue, as prescribed in the Abidjan accord and the Conakry peace plan, between the government and the rebels.

m) called on the rebels to immediately cease hostilities,
participate in dialogue, and take up the offer of amnesty made by the government of Sierra Leone.

n) expressed warmest congratulations and support to ECOMOG for the
bravery and courage shown by the force despite the arduous conditions in which it operates.

11. The meeting called on all ECOWAS countries and the international community not to support the rebellion.

12. The meeting expressed appreciation and deep gratitude to President Henri Konan Bedie, and to the Ivoirian government and people for the warm welcome accorded to participants and for the facilities made available towords the success of their deliberations.



Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 10:53:07 +0000 (GMT) From: UN IRIN - West Africa <> Subject: WEST AFRICA: ECOWAS communique on Sierra Leone 1998.12.29

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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