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Vol 40 No 2

Published 22nd January 1999


Sierra Leone

No surrender, no deal

President Kabbah has narrowly missed being overthrown again and still lacks a political strategy to deal with the

Prospects for a political solution to Sierra Leone’s rebel war seem to have perished along with the more than 2,000 civilians officially reckoned to have been killed in the Revolutionary United Front’s assault on Freetown. Indeed, local sources say the death toll could be nearer 8,000 (at the height of the fighting 550 bodies were cremated on one day) and that excludes the current round of revenge killings and summary executions by the Kamajor hunter-militias and soldiers from the West African peacekeeping force, Ecomog. While many Westerners and expatriate Sierra Leoneans argue that the RUF’s brutal assault on Freetown and operations in the diamond-rich eastern region make negotiations unavoidable for President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah’s government, the mood inside the country has hardened. ‘No surrender, no negotiations’ is the view on the Freetown streets, even among those who a month ago were pushing for a dialogue with RUF leaders and a pardon for leader Foday Sankoh, who was convicted of treason in October and is now held under Nigerian guard in Conakry, Guinea.

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