Sierra Leone's President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah is shunning a west African summit which began Wednesday in Nigeria on ways to end fighting in his country and neighbouring Guinea and Liberia, an official said.
A presidential aide gave no direct reason for Kabbah's absence from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) summit but simply said he was not going to the Nigerian capital Abuja.
Guinean President Lansana Conte is also not attending the meeting, but his country will be represented by Foreign Minister M'Mahawa Bangoura.
Only Liberian President Charles Taylor, who is widely accused of fomenting the crisis by lending support to Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebel group, is attending the Abuja meeting.
A crisis is raging along the borders of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone where a bloody insurgency has endangered hundreds of thousands of refugees and civilians.
Guinea blames RUF forces backed by Taylor of operating on its side of the border alongside other insurgents in violence which erupted in September last year.
About 150,000 refugees are feared trapped in escalated fighting in Guinea between Guinean, Liberian and Sierra Leonean forces in what has been termed the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
UN troops are currently in Sierra Leone to ensure compliance to a peace accord signed between the government and the rebel group Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in Abuja in November last year.
A 10-year civil war between the government and the RUF has claimed the lives of at least 200,000 people and the limbs of thousands of innocent civilians – FREETOWN (AFP)
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