Concord Times (Freetown)

30 July 2012

Sierra Leone: Guinean Soldiers to Quit Yenga

According to a joint communiqué issued by the government of Sierra Leone and the Republic of Guinea on Friday, the long standing border dispute between the two countries will soon come to an end as they have both agreed to demilitarize the Yenga territory that has been occupied by Guinean soldiers since the end of the civil war over ten years ago.

The Guinean Head of State, Prof. Alpha Conde, on Friday dispatched a delegation to Sierra Leone comprising of his Minister of Foreign Affairs and Abroad, Dr. Edouard Niankoye Lama and the Minister of state and Secretary General at the Office of the Presidency in Guinea, Mr. Francois Lounceny Fall, were all at the State House to append their signatures to this all important document.

In the communiqué, the leaders of the two countries agreed that Yenga should be demilitarized and that the two presidents should instruct the high authorities of their respective armed forces to implement the declaration.

The communiqué added further that the joint Guinea-Sierra Leone Technical Committee on Yenga has been mandated to continue its work leading to the final and peaceful resolution of the Yenga border issue.

While reading the declaration, Sierra Leone's Foreign Affairs Minister, Joseph Bandabla Dauda said it was significant that the two countries resolve their differences without resorting to confrontation.

"We are here for you to know the outcome of a joint ministerial meeting on the issue of Yenga. We have taken a step towards the resolution of this Yenga issue. The joint declaration is put in place to address the border issues of Yenga," Hon. Dauda.

The Guinean Minister of State, Francois Lounceny Fall, noted that a strong political will now exists on both sides and that people should no longer consider Yenga as an issue as they are committed to proffering a lasting solution to the problem.

"Let us be very clear on this issue," Fall said. "We now know that the two governments have agreed to resolve the problem and we don't need to go into the history of that area. The Yenga issue appeared during the troubled time for the two countries. The civil war has ended in Sierra Leone and Guinea is now a democratic country so therefore Yenga should not be an issue anymore."

Making a comment on the matter, the Sierra Leone Peoples Party SLPP Member of Parliament representing the constituency covering Yenga, Hon. Tamba Sam, thanked the two presidents for their frantic efforts aimed at resolving the matter.

He noted that despite efforts by the previous government, this will be the first time an agreement was reached on how to address the problem adding that it was important for the people of Yenga to leave happily in their communities without any hindrance.

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