Sierra Leone deal promises end to conflict

PEACE BECKONED at last yesterday for Sierra Leone when the country's government and rebel forces agreed on a deal to end one of Africa's most vicious and brutal civil wars in modern times.

A draft accord, drawn up under the auspices of a group of West African countries, provides for a power-sharing arrangement between President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah and the Revolutionary United Front guerrilla movement, which toppled him for nine months in 1997 and almost drove him from power again in another round of savage fighting in January.

Under the deal, the RUF will be given four ministerial and four deputy ministerial jobs in a new government, rather than the eight full portfolios it at one point demanded. But the movement's leader, Foday Sankoh, will have "vice-presidential status" at the head of a special commission handling Sierra Leone's mineral wealth, said the Foreign Minister of Togo, one of the mediators of the deal. A death sentence passed in absentia on Mr Sankoh is being set aside.

If it holds - a considerable "if" - the agreement will restore a measure of stability to one of Africa's poorest countries, which has known little but turmoil and killing since the RUF took up arms against the military regime in Freetown in 1991. Child soldiers were widely used, and the RUF regularly resorted to wholesale terror of the civilian population by mutilation and massacre.

Civilian rule nominally returned with the election of President Kabbah in 1996. The following year, however, he was overthrown by the rebels, despite the clandestine supply of arms to the government by Britain, which generated its own political scandal at Wesminster.

Last year, Mr Kabbah was returned to power by Ecomog, the regional military force led by Nigeria. But the RUF retained control of much of the countryside, and of the diamond trade that accounts for most of what wealth Sierra Leone possesses. Six months ago, a rebel advance came within an ace of taking the capital, Freetown, before being repulsed by Ecomog in bloody street fighting.

At that point peace negotiations began in Lome, under intense pressure from Nigeria in particular, which lost 1,000 soldiers in the fighting, and whose bankrupt government could no longer afford the $1m-a-day cost of the war.

Almost certainly some form of international peace-keeping force will be needed in Sierra Leone. But no replacement for Ecomog is yet in sight.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
voices
News
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
News
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before