|Wikileaks:||View 01ABUJA959 at Wikileaks.org|
|Tags:||PREL PINS NI ECOWAS|
|Redacted:||This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 000959 SIPDIS E.O. 12598: 5/3/11 TAGS: PREL, PINS, NI, ECOWAS SUBJECT: Agreement on Strengthened Cease-fire in Sierra Leone CLASSIFIED BY AMBASSADOR HOWARD F. JETER, REASONS 1.5(B/D) 1. (SBU) Summary. On May 2 the ECOWAS Committee of Six, the UN, and the Sierra Leone Government reached a reaffirmation of the November 10, 2000 cease-fire agreement in Sierra Leone with RUF representatives lead by Omrie Golley. According to sources at ECOWAS, The RUF committed itself to the dismantling of road blocks, a pull back from tense areas of the border with Guinea in the Kambia area, and the hand over of seized weapons, all by the end of May. The Committee of Six and the GOSL agreed to allow the RUF to conduct a regional fund-raising tour for political party organization, subject to "cooperative behavior" and the lifting of the UN travel ban. The parties also re- committed themselves to the DDR process. End summary. 2. (U) The ECOWAS Committee of Six (Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, Mali, Togo, Guinea not present) together with representatives of the GOSL, the UN, and the ECOWAS secretariat, met with representatives of the RUF on May 2 SIPDIS in Abuja. After an approximately eight-hour session at the ECOWAS Secretariat, the parties agreed upon several concrete provisions to strengthen the November 10, 2000 cease-fire. The RUF agreed to the dismantling of roadblocks, a RUF pull back from tense border areas near Kambia, and a hand-over of seized weapons stocks, all by the end of May. The parties recommitted themselves to the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) program. Troops pulled back from the Kambia area were to enter DDR camps. An overall timetable for this would be determined at a meeting between the RUF and the GOSL in Freetown on May 15. An "internal memorandum" has been signed in accordance with the agreements reached on May 2, but will not be distributed to the public. ECOWAS personnel would not release this document to us or to other diplomatic personnel, but were willing to discuss its provisions, as noted above. 3. (C) The negotiations at ECOWAS by all accounts occurred in a "cordial" and productive atmosphere. The RUF representatives, according to Colonel Dixon Dikio, ECOWAS military advisor, were "surprisingly conciliatory." Henrietta Didigu, staff attorney in the Office of the Legal Advisor at ECOWAS, who helped draft the new agreement, termed the RUF behavior a recognition that the May 2 ECOWAS talks were "the only game in town." ECOWAS Director of Information Adrienne Diop noted that, "The RUF realizes the war could go on forever and they are tired of it; that makes them more reasonable." Even the GOSL delegation expressed satisfaction with the talks, appearing relaxed and optimistic in the hallways of the ECOWAS secretariat at the end of the long evening. 4. (SBU) The RUF did raise some issues not strictly linked to the November 10, 2000 cease-fire agreement, including release of RUF prisoners, the presence of "foreign troops" on Sierra Leone soil (a reference to British training assistance to the GOSL armed forces) and their need to transform themselves into an active political party. The Committee of Six and the GOSL reportedly agreed to a regional fund-raising trip by the RUF to fund political party organization, this contingent on RUF "cooperative behavior." The GOSL would issue a public call for the lifting of the UN travel ban, should such "cooperative behavior" result, and work to remove "legal impediments" to the RUF registering as a political party. 5. (SBU) The cooperative atmosphere at the May 2 talks mirrored May 1 meetings convened by ECOWAS to prepare for the RUF sessions, in which the Committee of Six, the GOSL, the UN and ECOWAS staff participated. Well aware that the RUF had not been in compliance with many provisions of the cease-fire, the parties sought ways to encourage RUF compliance and establish concrete time-frames, rather than simply document violations and accord responsibility. However, the unwillingness of ECOWAS to release the agreed- upon text signed late on the evening of May 2 may signal some sensitivity concerning lack of compliance with the original cease-fire agreement, or perhaps the existence of other agreement elements not disclosed by ECOWAS personnel in conversations with us. 6. (C) Comment. The cease-fire in Sierra Leone does appear to be the only game in town. Now we shall see if the rules of the game, as reconfigured by the original signatories to the November 10, 2000 agreement, will be obeyed by the RUF. They have gained some further measure of recognition of their status as a negotiating partner of the GOSL, as sanctioned by ECOWAS and the UN in Abuja this week. Whether the RUF can seize this latest opportunity to act as a real partner in securing the cease-fire, and move beyond it to constructing a lasting peace in Sierra Leone, should be revealed in the next few weeks. Guinea's apparent absence was unfortunate but need not necessarily diminish significantly the week's accomplishments. End comment. 7. (C) In a May 3 meeting, NSA Aliyu Mohammed told Ambassador Jeter that President Obasanjo had had breakfast with RUF members and GOSL Ministers that morning. The NSA added that the group would be returning to Freetown on May 4, all on the same plane. According to Mohammed, the RUF and GOSL Ministers had said that President Obasanjo "had a mandate" to mediate the conflict in Sierra Leone, that three-quarters of the conflict was solved, and that all that remained to be done was to demobilize and reintegrate combatants. JETER
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