Letter: Sierra Leone peace

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Sierra Leone peace

Sir: Your editorial ("A disingenuous solution for Sierra Leone", 22 July) does less than justice to the resolute support given by the British government to President Tejan Kabbah and his government since they were democratically elected in February 1996.

This has been unflinching throughout a period when the country has been ravaged by a rebel force of unlimited bestiality. It is indeed deplorable that the rebels' tactics have earned them places in government; but the agreement reached in Togo offers the best hope of a return of peace and for that reason it is welcomed, albeit nervously, by the majority.

Following a visit to Sierra Leone by the Human Rights Commissioner, Mary Robinson, who stated that the atrocities there had been worse than in Kosovo, the United Nations has entered a reservation against the amnesty for war crimes contained in the agreement. This is entirely moral; but it is in practice hard to see how the perpetrators could be brought to justice.

The British government's actions have not been matched by our Parliament, which has signally failed to support the first Parliament democratically elected in Sierra Leone since 1967. Our parliamentarians have either been uninterested or even taken a stance tending to undermine the Sierra Leonean government.

The democratic evolution of Sierra Leone has indeed received a grave setback. It would be good if the British Parliament were now to take an interest and match the efforts of the Government in seeking to ensure that lasting peace is restored to that country.

DEREK W PARTRIDGE

London SE16

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