LETTERS:Sierra Leone: solutions to a human tragedy

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The Independent Online
From Mr C. P. Foray Sir: Richard Dowden's article "War pushes Sierra Leone to edge of ruin" (23 January) contains baseless allegations against my country and its government. For example, he writes that "[Valentine] Strasser's government refused to seek apolitical solution to the war, believing it could be won by military means." But, in fact, my government has embarked on a number of initiatives aimed at finding a solution to the rebel war.

These include the first ever national conference of chiefs, held in July 1994, which resulted in the formation of a National Security Council that has resolved to transform the war into a democratic political process. The government has also enlisted thegood offices of the Secretary-Generals of the Commonwealth and the United Nations to open a dialogue with the rebels of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF). Most recently, a nine-member group from Pujehun District has made contact with the RUF rebels.

Mr Dowden also writes that "Western countries have all but abandoned what was once a model British colony. In fact, finance officials from Sierra Leone have met just this month in London to discuss bilateral negotiations with Switzerland and Norway. Debtrescheduling has been agreed with the United States and the Economist (19 January) has reported that "Sierra Leone is in the (relatively) good books of the IMF".

What is happening in Sierra Leone is a human tragedy of the greatest proportions. Reputable newspapers such as yours should report such events accurately, soberly, sensibly and with a view towards producing solutions.

Yours faithfully, C. P. FORAY High Commissioner Sierra Leone High Commission London, W1

31 January