Councilor Musa Sesay of Ward 421 in the Freetown City Council (FCC) Municipality is on the run after details emerged that on Monday 11th October 2021 he was involved in farces resulting on the serious wounding of some youths in his area.
Disarmament & Peace - The Role of Ambassador Omrie Golley during the Peace Process in Sierra Leone (Episode 10)
We have now come almost full circle in highlighting the role of Ambassador Omrie Golley in the peace and disarmament process. The Process culminated in the declaration of the ending of the War by former President Kabbah, in January 2002, in his now famous utterance:
'Di war don don'.
Much had to be done however, during the twelve months preceding Kabbah's statement referred to above, in getting the two main protagonists, to the conflict, to finally lay down their weapons and pursue peace.
In this difficult task, the role of Ambassador Golley was crucial, and this role was subsequently recognized by the United Nations, ECOWAS, international humanitarian institutions, and the Government of President Tejan Kabbah.
Writing on the ending of the war in Sierra Leone, in the acclaimed British daily newspaper 'The Independent' on the 9th February 2002, their investigative journalists Declan Walsh and Robert Verkaik stated, inter alia:
“Diplomats, human rights workers, and government figures agree Mr Golley has played a crucial role in the recent peace process, which has seen the RUF disarm and transform itself into a political party.”
The journalists went on to quote Solomon Berewa, erstwhile Attorney General and Minister of Justice, who had led the Tejan Kabbah Government's role in the peace process:
“He (Ambassador Omrie Golley ) has been very positive in the achievement of peace.”
Culled from the Independent Newspaper - Saturday 9th February 2002 -
The period following the attack on the residence of the RUF leader Foday Sankoh in May 2000, had brought another breakdown in the peace process, and hostilities between Pro-Government forces and the RUF restarted.
By the end of May 2000, the northern provincial town of Lunsar, in Port Loko District, had been overrun by RUF forces. In addition there were renewed hostilities in different parts of the country. The United Nations (UNAMSIL) had commenced deploying peacekeeping troops around the country, which had assisted in lessening hostilities.
In addition, British military forces invited in by the Kabbah Government, to assist in military operations to gain control of the country, had made significant gains in military offensives against the RUF, allowing for the further deployment of UN peacekeeping operations.
Notwithstanding these military gains, it was clear to the United Nations and other humanitarian agencies involved in tending to the local war affected population, that there was an urgent need for renewed diplomatic efforts to end renewed hostilities in the country.
As David Wilmshurst, Spokesman for UNAMSIL, the United Nations Peace Keeping Organisation, stated, in a news briefing on the 1st June 2000:
“What is important now, is that the fighting does stop so that we could find a way to talk to each other again. There is no military solution to this conflict.”
Culled from Peter Andersen - News Archives of the Sierra Leone Web - 1st June 2000
Ambassador Golley meanwhile had returned from Freetown to London, in October 1999, with the return of the RUF Leader to Sierra Leone from Togo and the Lome Peace talks, and consequent of the fact that Golley had formally resigned from the RUF on the 28th December 1999.
Thereafter, Ambassador Golley maintained watching brief regarding continuing events in his country, but did not take any active role.
He (Golley) was, however, unhappy with the overall situation in the country, particularly with the increase in military hostilities, in the aftermath of the signing of the Lome Peace Accord. He believed however by this time, that he had done all that he could to advance peace in his motherland.
Within the RUF movement, splits had emerged amongst the main military commanders, after the capture of their Leader, on the 17th May 2000, in the aftermath of the 'May 8th incident'.
In addition, the imprisonment of Foday Sankoh, had occasioned the need for the Movement, to choose a new Leader to attempt to unify the RUF into a cohesive structure. With the active support of ECOWAS and sub-regional leaders, Issa Hassan Sesay, was chosen as the new RUF interim leader, to unify the movement and to assume the leadership in any subsequent peace talks.
The Lome Peace Accord, entered into in July 1999, between the Sierra Leone Government and the RUF, had agreed on the Disarmament, Demobilization and Rehabilitation (DDR) of all combatants that had been involved in the conflict, as a central plinth of the Agreement. At that point, it was clear and paramount to all observers, that if DDR was to be successful, the RUF, had to be properly structured, under a unified leadership for its (DDR) success.
However splits in the RUF in the aftermath of the detention of their Leader, made it very difficult to achieve the successful disarmament of their ex-combatants.
In addition, prior to the disarmament of Government controlled militias and the RUF, a new ceasefire agreement in Abuja, in November 2000, between the warring factions, had to be reactivated. Humanitarian access to the war weary population, and skirmishes between the opposing forces, made the desired goal of disarmament, difficult to achieve.
It soon became clear, that unless the difficulties identified above were adequately addressed, it would in turn be very difficult to proceed with a process, leading to the disarming of all ex-combatants involved in the war, and their ultimate reintegration into the towns and villages from which they came.
It was this realisation, that informed the United Nations, through their Special Representative of the erstwhile Secretary General- Nigerian born Ambassador Oluyemi Adeniji to contact Ambassador Golley in London in January 2001, to return to Freetown, yet again, to assist in the revitalization of the peace process, that, at this period, was in danger of disintegrating.
Whilst Ambassador Omrie Golley was most reluctant to return to the maelstrom of peace process issues, he was persuaded to return to Freetown in February 2001, after assurances from the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General, Ambassador Oluyemi Adeniji, that his personal safety and security, would be adequately safeguarded.
Ambassador Golley also sought and received written assurances about his security from the Government of President Kabbah through their erstwhile Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Solomon Berewa.
Prior to returning to Freetown in February 2001, Golley travelled to Monrovia Liberia to meet with the newly appointed Interim Leader of the RUF, General Issa Hassan Sesay, who prevailed upon Ambassador Golley, to head a soon as possible to be formed RUF Political and Peace Council, to oversee the peace process and proceed to the disarmament of all ex-combatants involved in the conflict.
With the acceptance of this latest position within the RUF, to support the commencement of a fresh peace initiative, Ambassador Omrie Golley entered the most difficult part of the renewed peace process, which was to agree a new ceasefire with the government controlled militia otherwise known as the Civil Defence Forces ( CDF), headed by erstwhile Deputy Defence Minister, the late Sam Hinga Norman, and the RUF, and to commence disarmament of all fighting groups involved in the conflict.
On the 1st May 2001, Ambassador Omrie Golley led a six man delegation, comprising senior military officials of the RUF, to Abuja to meet with officials of the Sierra Leone Government, headed by then Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Solomon Berewa, and the leadership of the Government controlled CDF Militia.
This meeting, to review the previously agreed Abuja Peace Accord of November 2000, referred to above, and to map out the next stages of the peace process, involving disarmament, was also attended by officials of the United Nations, ECOWAS, and the Sierra Leone Government, with the erstwhile Organisation of African Unity (OAU) acting as Observers.
The meeting between the RUF, the Sierra Leone Government, together with those of the CDF went well, and agreement to restart the peace process, by ceasing all hostilities, was swift. The meeting afforded Ambassador Golley the opportunity, in particular, of meeting and conferring with the late Leader of the CDF, and erstwhile Deputy Minister, Sam Hinga Norman.
Ambassador Golley remembers their encounters:
“During this period in Abuja, I got to meet with the Minister on several occasions, both formally and informally. I became convinced at an early stage in our deliberations, that he was sincere in his desire to restart the peace process, and end the conflict.”
Agreement between both sides was reached within 24 hours of the commencement of the Meeting, on the 2nd May 2001.
Unlike many other Agreements entered into for the duration of the conflict, this Agreement on the cessation of hostilities, signed by the CDF leader, and Ambassador Omrie Golley, as Chairman of the newly created RUF Political and Peace Council, and ratified in Freetown on the 15th May 2001, withstood the test of time, and in effect, signaled the end of the 10 year old conflict.
The recently signed and ratified Abuja Declaration of May 2001, was in effect, a re-affirmation of the recently failed Abuja Peace Accord of 2000, and called for the cessation of hostilities, the disarmament, demobilisation and re-integration, of all former combatants of both the RUF, and CDF, and the transformation of the RUF into a political party.
Both the Government and RUF Delegations, returned to Freetown from Abuja after concluding their meeting, together, as one Delegation, to underscore its success.
That symbolic move, was actively encouraged by the personal intervention of the erstwhile President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasango, who graciously provided the Delegations, with the Nigerian Presidential Aircraft, to transport both delegations back to Freetown.
Upon the return of both the Government and RUF Delegations to Freetown, the complex and difficult part of the Agreement, commenced with the disarmament of the former fighting groups, under an implementation plan.
This implementation plan, took the form of a number of tri-partite meetings, held in different parts of Sierra Leone, between the Government and the RUF, with the United Nations, acting as the Chair to both delegations during these talks.
In fact there were 7 meetings that took place from May 2001 to November 2001, between the Government of Sierra Leone and the RUF, chaired by the United Nations, through their Special Representative of the Secretary General, Ambassador Oluyemi Adeniji. The erstwhile Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Solomon Berewa, headed the Government of Sierra Leone Delegation for the duration of these meetings, and Ambassador Omrie Golley, headed the RUF Delegation.
As Golley remembers:
“In fact this stage of the peace process, (ie the disarmament programme ), was, arguably, the most arduous and difficult. I had to visit various parts of the country where RUF ex-combatants were stationed, accompanied by UN peacekeepers, actively encouraging them to give up their weapons.
That was an extremely difficult task. The ex-combatants were, on the whole, very skeptical of the whole peace process, and giving up their weapons, which some of them had held, for nearly ten years previously, was very hard for them to bear '.
Ambassador Omrie Golley traversed the length and breadth of his motherland, visiting RUF bases, together with those of the former Government controlled Civil Militia, the CDF, always accompanied by UN Peacekeeping troops, actively encouraging the disarmament, demobilisation and re integration, of the former fighting groups.
Ambassador Omrie Golley spent lengthy periods of time, living with the former combatants of the RUF, at their various locations, to gain their trust, often having to listen to their experiences of fighting a 10 year war. Some of these experiences, often recounted with glee and mirth, by some of these former fighters, were, for Ambassador Golley, often gruesome and unpleasant, to have to listen to.
Ambassador Golley also found himself during this period, frequently adjudicating and settling quarrels, and long standing disputes and rivalries amongst the former commanders of the Movement. Sometimes these occurrences were very serious, with the potential for disrupting the whole disarmament process, looming large.
The process of disarmament was carried out successfully in the 8 months from May 2001 to January 2002. On the 17th January 2002, representatives of the Government of Sierra Leone and the RUF, met in Freetown for the last time, with both sides formally declaring the end of the disarmament process, with the disarming of 46,453 former fighters.
The 10 year old conflict was truly at an end.
On the 18th of January 2002, President Kabbah, at a symbolic burning of firearms previously held by the former fighting groups, formally declared the war to be at an end, with his now famous quote :
'Di war don don'
Ambassador Omrie Golley, in a statement issued on the 19th January 2002, to commemorate the ending of the war, had this to say:
“I consider the end of disarmament and the end of the war, to be the first stage of the consolidation of the peace process, but there is a lot more work to be done, particularly in terms of tackling the problems in our society,- that of poverty, corruption, nepotism, and economic and social mismanagement.”
Culled from Peter Andersen - Sierra Leone News - January 2002 - The Sierra Leone Web
Very strong, meaningful, insightful words coming from Ambassador Omrie Golley, in January 2002, 19 years ago.
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THE AFRC COUP, OMRIE GOLLEY'S ARREST & DETENTION IN GUINEA & HIS EFFORTS FOR PEACE & THE RETURN TO DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE IN SIERRA LEONE
It can safely be said that the period between the 25th of May 1997 when the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) staged their coup and the return of the Tejan Kabbah administration in February 1998, was one of the darkest moments in the history of Sierra Leone.
DIALECTICS OF THE PEACE PROCESS, WITH THE FAILURE OF THE ABIDJAN PEACE ACCORD, THE INCARCERATION OF FODAY SANKOH, AND THE MILITARY COUP AGAINST TEJAN KABBAH
Days after the historic meeting in Yamassoukro, Republic of Ivory Coast in March 1996, the leader of the NPRC Julius Maada Bio, handed over the reign of Government to President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah who swiftly formed a new administration and continued with efforts to achieve peace and reconciliation in the country.
The telephone conversation at a safe house in Danane, Ivory Coast with Corporal Foday Sankoh was to become the foundation upon which Omrie Golley’s role in the peace process was built. It was through that safe house bush radio conversation that Golley was able to detect an uncanny desire for international recognition and acceptance from the RUF leader.
The formation of an external delegation by the RUF was no small measure an attempt to establish diplomatic contact with the outside world and it had become obvious that the RUF leadership wanted to be taken seriously.
Golley met Foday Sankoh for the first time on the 24th March, 1996 at the City of Yamassoukro, Ivory Coast, 450 kilometres north of Abidjan. This was a couple of months after the meeting at Danane with the RUF external delegation.
He had returned to London after that initial encounter to escalate his engagements with International Alert, the ICRC, the Commonwealth Secretariat, UN and occasionally, through telephone conversations, with members of the RUF he had met in Danane.
It didn’t take Golley long to learn that a meeting had been scheduled between the NPRC military government of Sierra Leone and the RUF. In his quest to see a peaceful resolution of the conflict, as well as the realization that the said meeting would afford a wonderful opportunity for his group (operating under the umbrella of the National Convention for Reconstruction and Development NCRD) to meet with Foday Sankoh and the RUF leadership to continue the process of dialogue and encouragement for a sustainable peaceful resolution of the conflict, he wasted no time to mobilize other members of his organisation to travel with him to Yamoussoukro for the historic meeting.
He contacted Oluniyi Robbin-Coker, Osman Yansaneh, Lans Gberie, Ambrose Ganda and other Sierra Leoneans and offered to meet the cost of the travel for the whole Group, from their respective departure points in the UK and West Africa.
The Late Ambrose Ganda, penning details of the historic event in his Focus on Sierra Leone in March 1996, wrote:
"I arrived in Abidjan Sunday morning 24 March, determined to witness the historic meeting between Maada Bio and Foday Sankoh, but not knowing what the program of events was. I checked into my hotel room and was just about to steal a wink - having travelled on a night flight from London - when the telephone rang only for me to be told that both men were due to arrive in Yamoussoukro that very evening.
"I hurriedly surrendered my keys at the reception and checked out. I was in the company of three compatriots - Omrie Golley, Chairman of the National Convention for Reconstruction and Development - which also paid for my trip as with an earlier visit, Mr Osman Yansaneh, a personal assistant of ex President Momoh, who travelled from Conakry, and Mr Lans Gberie, editor of Expo Times, who had travelled from Freetown as an independent observer. We boarded a hired jeep, and headed with a rendez-vous with history, nearly 450 kilometres in the North of Ivory Coast.”
Golley and his fellow compatriots arrived late that evening, finding accommodation at the same hotel where both the Government of Sierra Leone delegation together with that of the RUF were residing, and sent word to both delegations that they had arrived to witness the historic event, expressing a desire to meet with them.
Golley and the rest of the group that accompanied him received immediate word from Foday Sankoh that he was very keen to meet with them.
Warmly welcoming Golley and his fellow Sierra Leoneans, Sankoh went on to berate Ambrose Ganda, in a friendly way, for some unflattering remarks Ganda had made months earlier about the RUF, in one of his publications which had been brought to his attention. Sankoh was equally swift on putting that episode aside, engaging the group in an informal manner. He then went on to speak copiously about the reasons why the RUF had embarked on what he termed ‘an armed struggle’, and giving a lecture on what he termed the core of the thinking of the Movement - Pan Africanism- and the need for grass roots involvement in the political dispensation of Sierra Leone which he described as lacking.
Golley and Ganda in their own individual comments mentioned to the RUF leader that they had come as independent observers to the peace meeting, not being part of any official delegation. Golley went on to add that they would probably be waiting outside the hall - where the meeting was to take place - until it’s conclusion, and that the Group had come to Yamassoukro to give moral and where necessary, practical support to both sides.
Sankoh’s immediate response was;
"We are all Sierra Leoneans, aren’t we? We are here to talk about peace for our country. Every Sierra Leonean must be welcome! You do not need an invitation for that, do you? You should come to the hall tomorrow to make your presence felt."
Golley remembered this initial encounter in which these historic deliberations also brought with it an amusing moment.
‘’We were all seated in the inner suite of Foday Sankoh’s quarters with Sankoh resplendent in traditional ronko attire, with us listening animatedly to him dilating on the reasons why the RUF took up arms.
In the middle of this discourse, Sankoh got up suddenly to attend to a call of nature. Thinking that this brief interlude, would afford the group a few minutes to compare notes on our individual feelings, we were surprised to witness Sankoh enter the bathroom, sit on the toilet seat, bathroom door ajar, continuing with his discourse as if there was absolutely nothing wrong with this particular mode of engaging in public conversation” said Golley.
The scheduled peace talks eventually took place, the following morning, on Monday 25th March 1996. It was a historic meeting between the NPRC Leader and Head of State Brigadier Julius Maada Bio and the RUF Leader.
This initial encounter was itself preceded by high drama for which Omrie Golley and his brethren had not expected.
Just before the event itself started one of the NPRC Delegates came into the Hall and formally objected to Golley’s group, naming him in particular, stating that he (Golley) and his team were neither part of the government delegation nor part of the RUF Delegation.
The meeting stalled and escalated into a serious stalemate.
The RUF Delegation maintained that, as Sierra Leoneans, Golley and his Group, were perfectly entitled to remain as observers of the Meeting. The Government delegation on the hand argued that the NCRD team was not illegible to attend as they weren’t part of the official or RUF delegation.
“For my part, initially I dug my heels in, stating that as observers recognized by the hosts in the Ivory Coast, together with one of the participating Delegations who had insisted that we attend, we couldn’t simply leave the Hall because the Government Delegation objected’’
The Stalemate sadly continued, with the delegations maintaining their respective positions. Tempers flared.
‘’The historic Meeting was on the verge of collapsing even before it started. One side, it seemed, had to back down or give in’’
It was however not long before Golley relented, taking the view that his being singled out by one of the Parties to the peace talks, objecting to him and the Group witnessing the occasion, was a small price to pay, taking into account the reason why he was there in the first place - giving peace a chance, and doing everything possible to end the hostilities and bring about a lasting and sustainable peace to Sierra Leone.
Stay tuned for more and more interesting reading coming your way!!
For further enquiries on our episodes, contact the writer
Noellie Marionette – Chambertin
Phone Number: *+447535506716
ECOWAS Parliament Meets to Discuss Food Security, Agriculture Production & the Fight against COVID 19
Monday 9th November 2020: Bissau: Action Against Hunger, the world expert on hunger and malnutrition with over 40 years operational experience confirmed during the World Food Day on Friday October 16th 2020, that over 7% of the world’s children under age five – approximately 47 million children in 2019 suffer from acute malnutrition. It further says that world hunger is projected to rise to an additional 132 million people this year as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic.
Population growth and urbanization; climate change and deterioration of environmental conditions; market dynamics and food supply; natural disasters, civil conflicts and food crises; gender inequalities; and most importantly poverty and inequality have all been identified by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations as determinants of food insecurity and malnutrition in particularly the West Africa region.
According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), hunger and malnutrition are worsening in parts of the West African continent because of the coronavirus pandemic, especially in low-income communities or those already stricken by continued conflict.
FAO called for robust measures by West Africa states to maintain four pillars such as food availability, access to food, stability and nutrition.
The basis of the robust measures being taken so far by members has led the regional Parliament of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) under the distinguished leadership of its Speaker, His Excellency Sidie Mohamed Tunis to convey a meeting of joint committees on Agriculture, Environment, Water Resources and Sustainable Development/ Industry and Private Sector/ Health/ Energy and Mines/ Social Affairs, Gender and Women Empowerment to discuss the most vital theme of “ECOWAS food security and agriculture production program and the fight against COVID 19.”
The general objective of the meeting, which is scheduled to take place from Tuesday 10th to Saturday 14th November 2020, in Bissau, the capital city of Guinea Bissau is to enable the Joint Committee interact with the ECOWAS Commission and assess the status of COVID-19 pandemic, agricultural production and food insecurity in the ECOWAS region.
Also worthy to note is that this meeting of ECOWAS Parliament Members of Parliament (MPs) which is conveyed by the Speaker himself, comes exactly two (2) weeks after His Excellency Sidie Mohamed Tunis served as chair of a high level regional meeting with West and Central Africa parliamentarians on mobilizing parliamentarians and keeping nutrition as a priority during COVID 19. In that meeting, Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament called on regional law makers to prioritize advocacy on the protection of the right to food.
Meanwhile, according to research by the writer, the Right to Food has been accepted as a legally binding obligation by all West African states. According to the ECOWAS Revised Treaty in Article 25 says “Member States shall co-operate in the development of agriculture, forestry, livestock and fisheries in order to: a) ensure food security; b) increase production and productivity in agriculture, livestock, fisheries and forestry, and improve conditions of work and generate employment opportunities in rural areas; c) enhance agricultural production through processing locally, animal and plant products; and d) protect the prices of export commodities on the international market.”
In addition, this right has been binding obligation on states that are parties to and have ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). It is also binding on ECOWAS states that have ratified human rights instruments relevant to the Right to Food, such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) which Article 12 recognises the right of pregnant and lactating women to special protection with regard to nutrition; and Article 14 recognises the right of rural women’s access to land, water and services. In addition, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) Article 25 recognises the right to health, including nutrition; and Article 27 the right to an adequate standard of living, including nutrition. Also, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Article 6 recognises the right to life and Article 7 the right to be free from inhumane and degrading treatment.
In the fight against COVID 19, West Africa Health Organisation (WAHO), observed that there is 92.7% recovery rate of COVID 19 cases in West Africa. However, the measures adopted to curtail the spread of the virus in the region have caused more problems as experts are projecting increased in the rate of hunger and malnutrition in the region. Thus the need for various stakeholders in the region, including the ECOWAS Parliament to take-up measures to protect food security and agriculture production program during the fight against COVID 19.
ECOWAS Parliament Speaker Urges Regional MPs to Prioritize Advocacy on the Protection of the Right to Food
Speaker of the regional Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament, His Excellency Sidie Mohamed Tunis has today Monday 26th October 2020 whilst serving as chair of a high level regional meeting with West and Central Africa parliamentarians on mobilizing parliamentarians and keeping nutrition as a Priority during COVID 19 called on regional law makers to prioritize advocacy on the protection of the right to food.