Bandits, not ethnicity, to blame in Sierra Leone : LETTERS

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The Independent Online
From Mr Andrew Graham Sir: As someone who was working in the mining industry throughout the 1980s, I thought I should respond to Richard Dowden's article. I should point out that De Beers were not involved in diamond mining in Sierra Leone in the 1980s. It was, in fact, BP Minerals, and they pulled out in 1984. Over the past year or so a number of UK companies have returned. However, recent attacks on installations only help to undermine confidence.

Despite this, it is wrong to claim that Sierra Leone is on the brink of following Liberia into ruin. The government has been making progress in restoring peace and stability to the streets of Freetown, but faced with rebels who continue to intimidate, kidnap and murder people, the chances of securing free and fair elections will be slim. Sierra Leone needs the West's support and encouragement to end the cycle of lawlessness and danger.

Its government has, after all, remained committed to returning the country to civilian rule as soon as conditions allow.

The Overseas Development Administration has committed itself to assisting the country's moves towards the restoration of stability and development. Other countries should do the same. Sierra Leone needs our support and encouragement to end the violence.

Yours sincerely, ANDREW GRAHAM London, SW11

27 January

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