13 January 2003

Press Statement by Security Council President on Sierra Leone

NEW YORK, 10 January (UN Headquarters) -- Following is today's statement to the press by Security Council President Jean-Marc de La Sablière (France):

Members of the Council discussed the Secretary-General's latest report on the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) (document S/2002/1417). They commended the Secretary-General and UNAMSIL for their role in maintaining peace in Sierra Leone and providing a platform for post-conflict reconstruction.

Members of the Council welcomed the progress made by UNAMSIL in its restructuring and the first two phases of its drawdown plans, and encouraged this to continue. They underlined the importance of the Government of Sierra Leone continuing to strengthen the army and police, including through adequate logistical and infrastructural support, so that they can soon assume full responsibility for security.

Members noted with concern the fact that government control was not yet fully re-established in some areas of the country, including the diamond-producing areas, and urged the Government of Sierra Leone to make rapid progress with this, including by adopting a policy for the diamond sector.

Members welcomed the news of progress with reintegration, and encouraged this to continue so that all ex-combatants will have received training by the end of 2003.

Members welcomed the commencement of work by the Special Court and reiterated their full support for the Court and for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. These are important elements of the reconciliation process in Sierra Leone.

Members shared the Secretary-General's concerns about the regional security situation, stressed the need to find a solution to the conflicts in Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire, and encouraged the efforts undertaken by States engaged in helping to find such a solution.

Members of the Council expressed their willingness to visit Sierra Leone on the occasion of the next Security Council mission in the region.

Finally, members of the Council reiterated the importance of relaunching the political dialogue among Mano River Union countries.

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