Sleone Rebels End Boycott, Attend Peace Meeting
Sierra Leonean rebels Tuesday attended a monthly peace meeting with the government and UN officials, ending a boycott aimed at protesting against some government decisions.
"The meeting has started in Makeni," a northern town which was until early this year a bastion for the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), an RUF official said over phone.
The RUF boycotted the monthly meeting on September 6, a day after Freetown announced that parliamentary and presidential elections would be held in the war-scarred nation on May 14.
RUF spokesman Gibril Massaquoi had said the boycott was aimed at highlighting several grievances against the government of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah.
He said these included a refusal by Kabbah's team to step down for an interim government after its term ends on September 26, alleged ceasefire violations by a state-backed civil militia and the government's refusal to free detained RUF leader Foday Sankoh.
Tuesday's meeting between the RUF, the Freetown government and UNAMSIL (the UN mission in Sierra Leone) was the fifth such monthly session aimed at ironing out differences and carrying forth a disarmament process.
Sierra Leone was originally due to go to the polls this year but the elections were deferred due to what officials described as "logistical problems".
The RUF, which led a 10-year civil war in the west African country, has however said it would not halt peace efforts if Kabbah refused to form an interim government before legislative polls were held.
More than 18,000 rebels and members of a state-backed militia of an estimated total of 45,000 have laid down their weapons under an ongoing disarmament process launched this year -- FREETOWN (AFP)
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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