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Published 9th June 2000

Vol 41 No 12

Sierra Leone

Moving the mandate

The credibility of the UN and British missions depends on the contest between around 25,000 Sierra Leonean fighters

The future of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah's government and of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (Unamsil) rests on a hastily constructed security pyramid. At its apex are Sierra Leone's 'teeth forces', a disparate grouping of serving and former government soldiers and their allies. At the base is the British military component, a taskforce of about 800 paratroopers, marines and special forces, most of whom are due to leave in mid-June but will be on standby if the government is threatened again. Sandwiched between the British and the Sierra Leonean forces is the UN military mission, whose strength has been bolstered from 11,000 to 13,000 troops; UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has now asked the UN Security Council to approve a further increase of the force to 16,500, making it the biggest UN peacekeeping mission since that in Cambodia. Total failure, in the sense of the Kabbah government being overthrown and the Revolutionary United Front invading Freetown, is unlikely now: both the UN and the British government are locked into preventing that. Equally, real success for Unamsil and sustainable peace look elusive. As Africa Confidential went to press, the pro-Kabbah forces were making steady progress against scattered RUF units north-east of Freetown. The Kabbah forces were set on moving into the RUF's northern stronghold of Makeni and then moving east towards the RUF's diamonds heartland in Kono district.

Kabbah, the survivor

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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Sankoh's absence - even if temporary - boosts Kabbah but the soldiers manoevre

The arrest and detention on 19 May of Corporal Foday Sankoh, leader of the Revolutionary United Front, strengthened President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah's weak and too conciliatory governm...

Mixed reviews

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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Civilian government wins praise for its democracy but blame for its lack of vision

President Olusegun Obasanjo ended his first year in office on 29 May much as he arrived, struggling on several fronts against outbreaks of ethnic, regional and religious violence t...

Wade makes his mark

The new Preisident juggles allies, woos French business and upsets the neighbours

The famous victory of 19 March (AC Vol 41 Nos 5 & 7) is 100 days old. The democratic elan and spirit survive but the 'state of grace' is fading as President Abdoulaye Wade's ne...

Come in, it's private

Local and foreign investors want state assets sold fast - the trade unions don't

The African National Congress inches ahead with privatisation, though its partner, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), links this to the redrawing of labour laws t...


Take your medicine

'Can Africa Claim the 21st Century?' is the unusual title of the World Bank's latest plea for more cash for Africa. It's also the starting line for the Bank's new Chief Economist f...

ANC untamed

Inspiring a broad resistance front is not the same as running a pragmatic government, as the African National Congress has discovered. To iron out the long-standing and often fierc...

Glittering prizes II

The arrest in Kinshasa of Mines Minister Frédéric Kibassa Maliba and Economy Minister Bemba Saolona raises more doubts about the planned launching of Oryx Diamonds on...