UN Extends Sierra Leone Force by Three Months
The UN Security Council on Friday voted unanimously to extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) by three months, through March 31.
The 15 members of the council expressed concern that rebels of the United Revolutionary Front (RUF) were not adhering to a cease-fire accord signed with the Sierra Leone government in Abuja on November 10.
As a result members of the 12,000-strong UN force had not yet been deployed to all rebel controlled zones, in particular those where diamonds are mined. The United Nations says that profits from the diamond trade support the RUF, with the complicity of the government of Liberia.
The Security Council also called on member states to supply personnel for UNAMSIL.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has called for the force -- already the UN's largest -- to be boosted from 12,455 members to 20,500, a number which, according to Annan, would enable it to be deployed throughout Sierra Leone.
But United Nations is having trouble maintaining the force at its current size, as it has not yet secured replacements for Indian and Jordanian contingents which are being withdrawn in coming weeks -- UNITED NATIONS (AFP)
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