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DATE=7/7/99 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT NUMBER=2-251551 TITLE=SIERRA LEONE / ACCORD (L-UPD) BYLINE=JOHN PITMAN DATELINE=ABIDJAN CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: THE PRESIDENT OF SIERRA LEONE AND THE LEADER OF THE REBELLION SEEKING TO OVERTHROW HIM HAVE SIGNED A PEACE AGREEMENT. THE TWO MEN SIGNED THE DOCUMENT IN THE TOGOLESE CAPITAL, LOME, ON WEDNESDAY, BRINGING TO AN END EIGHT YEARS OF BLOODY CIVIL WAR. V-O-A'S JOHN PITMAN REPORTS FROM OUR WEST AFRICA BUREAU. TEXT: PRESIDENT AHMAD TEJAN KABBAH WAS ACCOMPANIED TO THE SIGNING CEREMONY BY A YOUNG SIERRA LEONEAN GIRL WHO LOST HER RIGHT ARM IN A REBEL ATTACK. BEFORE PUTTING HIS NAME TO THE DOCUMENT, HE SAID THE GIRL WAS A PRODUCT OF THE COUNTRY'S EIGHT YEAR CIVIL WAR, AND A SYMBOL OF HOW SIERRA LEONE SHOULD NEVER AGAIN USE VIOLENCE TO RESOLVE ITS PROBLEMS. THE PEACE AGREEMENT SIGNED WEDNESDAY OPENS THE WAY FOR POWER-SHARING BETWEEN MR. KABBAH'S ADMINISTRATION AND THE REBELS IN A NEW GOVERNMENT. UNDER THE TERMS OF THE ACCORD, THE REBELS WILL RECEIVE FOUR MINISTERIAL POSTS, INCLUDING THE FINANCE OR FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTRIES. REBEL OFFICIALS WILL ALSO HOLD FOUR VICE-MINISTERIAL POSTS. FODAY SANKOH -- THE FORMER CORPORAL WHO LAUNCHED THE REBELLION IN 1991, AND WHO WAS CONDEMNED TO DEATH FOR TREASON LAST OCTOBER -- SIGNED THE AGREEMENT WITH PRESIDENT KABBAH ON WEDNESDAY. AS PART OF THE AGREEMENT, MR. SANKOH RECEIVED A FULL PARDON AND WILL BE REINSTATED AS A SIERRA LEONEAN CITIZEN. HE WILL ALSO BECOME ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL FIGURES IN THE NEW GOVERNMENT. MR. SANKOH WILL BE THE PRESIDENT OF A NEW COMMISSION TO OVERSEE THE COUNTRY'S MINING INDUSTRY, AS WELL AS NATIONAL RECONSTRUCTION ISSUES. THE REBELLION WANTED MR. SANKOH TO BE NAMED VICE-PRESIDENT, BUT IN A COMPROMISE AGREED TO ACCEPT WHAT IS BEING CALLED VICE-PRESIDENTIAL STATUS WITHOUT THE TITLE OF VICE-PRESIDENT. THE AGREEMENT ALSO INCLUDES PROVISIONS FOR BOTH SIDES TO DEMOBILIZE THEIR TROOPS, AND FOR THE FURTHER DEPLOYMENT OF THE WEST AFRICAN, ECOMOG, PEACEKEEPING FORCE. PRESIDENT KABBAH AND MR. SANKOH SIGNED THE AGREEMENT AT A CEREMONY IN THE TOGOLESE CAPITAL, LOME, ATTENDED BY THE PRESIDENTS OF NIGERIA, LIBERIA, TOGO AND BURKINA FASO. THE FIVE PRESIDENTS REPORTEDLY PRESSURED THE REBELS TO ACCEPT THE PEACE DEAL IN A MARATHON NEGOTIATING SESSION TUESDAY NIGHT. WITNESSES AT THE MEETING SAY LIBERIA'S PRESIDENT CHARLES TAYLOR, WHO IS AN OLD FRIEND OF MR. SANKOH'S, WAS EFFECTIVE IN REASSURING THE REBEL LEADER. /// OPT /// THIS AGREEMENT FORMALLY ENDS ONE OF AFRICA=92S BLOODIEST AND LONGEST-RUNNING CIVIL WARS. MR. SANKOH'S REVOLUTIONARY UNITED FRONT OR R-U-F REBEL MOVEMENT LAUNCHED ITS FIRST ATTACKS AGAINST THE SIERRA LEONEAN GOVERNMENT IN 1991. IN 1996, FOLLOWING DEMOCRATIC ELECTIONS IN SIERRA LEONE, THE REBELS SIGNED A PEACE AGREEMENT WITH PRESIDENT KABBAH. BUT THAT AGREEMENT FELL APART WHEN THE REBELS BACKED A COUP BY JUNIOR ARMY OFFICERS, WHICH DEPOSED MR. KABBAH IN 1997. THE WEST AFRICAN, ECOMOG, PEACEKEEPING FORCE REINSTATED MR. KABBAH IN FEBRUARY OF 1998, BUT IN THE YEAR THAT FOLLOWED, THE REBELS AND THEIR ALLIES FROM THE MILITARY JUNTA INTENSIFIED THEIR GUERRILLA WAR AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT. THE WAR CAME TO A HEAD LAST JANUARY, WHEN REBEL SOLDIERS NEARLY OVER-RAN THE CAPITAL, FREETOWN. ECOMOG TROOPS DROVE THE REBELS OUT, BUT AT AN ENORMOUS COST. UP TO FIVE-THOUSAND PEOPLE DIED IN LESS THAN ONE MONTH OF FIGHTING.. ALL TOLL, CLOSE TO 20-THOUSAND SIERRA LEONEANS HAVE LOST THEIR LIVES SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE WAR. HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF OTHERS ARE LIVING AS REFUGEES IN NEIGHBORING COUNTRIES. /// END OPT /// ON THE STREETS OF FREETOWN, RESIDENTS REPORTEDLY DANCED IN THE STREETS WHEN NEWS OF THE PEACE AGREEMENT WAS BROADCAST OVER THE RADIO. MANY WEPT FOR JOY. OTHERS CRIED FOR THE THOUSANDS OF LIVES LOST IN THE WAR. STILL OTHERS REMAINED CAUTIOUS, WORRIED THAT THE REBELS MIGHT BE GETTING TOO MUCH IN THE DEAL AND RECALLING THAT THE LAST PEACE AGREEMENT SIGNED WITH THE REBELS DID NOT HOLD. (SIGNED) NEB/JP/ENE/PT 07-Jul-99 5:21 PM EDT (2121 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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