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UN Force In Sierra Leone Until End Of 2005

Annan Proposes Keeping Residual UN Force In Sierra Leone Until End Of 2005

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has proposed leaving a residual UN peacekeeping force in Sierra Leone until December 2005 to ensure a smooth transfer of security responsibilities to the national government.

Explaining this decision in his latest report on the country, Mr. Annan notes that while there has been progress in consolidating peace in the country, it remains fragile. The armed forces face "serious shortfalls," making it impossible for the Government to assume responsibility for external security by the time the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) is set to expire in December.

The report further points out that "considerable support" is still needed by the Sierra Leone police, while outside funding is essential to the country's economy.

"There is a unanimous view among both Sierra Leoneans and international stakeholders that the progress made so far warrants a carefully managed transfer of responsibility for national security to the Government," Mr. Annan states, recommending that the Security Council establish a residual UN force in Sierra Leone comprising 3,250 troops, plus 141 UN military observers and 80 UN civilian police personnel. The operation would run through the end of 2005. UNAMSIL, which now has 11,000 troops, expects to downsize to 5,000 by December 2004.

The proposal will also facilitate the work of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, according to the report, which notes that some members of the Sierra Leone Armed Forces have become disaffected by poor conditions of service and still support Johnny Paul Koroma, an indicted former military leader. "These factors give many Sierra Leoneans reasons to doubt the loyalty of the armed forces," Mr. Annan observes.

Indicted exiled Liberian President Charles Taylor, now in Nigeria, also has a large following and business interests in his country. He could also try to use the Sierra Leone combatants who fought on his behalf to disrupt the work of the court, the report says.

© Scoop Media

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