15 August 2012

Sierra Leone: Let Government Issue an Official Statement That 'Yenga Has Been Freed'



I have been reading in some local newspapers reports that "Yenga has been freed". When one analyses the reports as published in some newspapers, one is left in doubt as to whether the reports are speculative or true. That being the case, one is tempted to ask the question, if indeed "Yenga has been freed", why can't the Sierra Leone Government issue an official statement for the records and posterity to the effect that Guinean troops, which have been occupying Yenga for at least the past twelve years, have left the area and returned to Guinea, since this has been such a sensitive issue for a long time, and what Sierra Leoneans have been clamouring for over the years?

Readers will recall the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Joseph Bandabla Dauda on Saturday 27th July, 2012 reading the "Joint Declaration on the Border Issue of Yenga" at a special ceremony held at State House in Freetown marking the end of a conference held in Freetown with his Guinean counterpart "in order to find a lasting solution to the Yenga issue" - quote is from the Joint Communiqué".

"At the end of the discussions, the Conference of Ministers concluded that:

On behalf of the two Heads of State and their respective Governments declare to demilitarize the Yenga area;

Consequently, the two Heads of State of the Republics of Guinea and Sierra Leone will instruct the high authorities of their respective Armed Forces to implement this declaration.

The Joint Guinea - Sierra Leone Joint Technical Committee on Yenga is hereby mandated to continue its work leading to the final and peaceful resolution of the Yenga border issue."

The reading of the Joint Communiqué was followed by a press conference during which Minister Dauda and the Guinean Minister of State, Secretary General at the Presidency in Guinea Francois Lounceny Fall answered questions from journalists and other interested persons in attendance, including in particular Members of Parliament from the Kailahun District.

One point that came out clearly during the Q and A session was that although the Joint Communiqué called for the withdrawal of both Guinean and Sierra Leonean troops from the Yenga area, when as a matter of fact, there were no Sierra Leonean troops stationed in Yenga. I even interviewed the Member of Parliament for the area, Hon. Musa Tamba Sam, on this point for my report to the Associated Press (AP) International News Agency and he confirmed that no Sierra Leonean troops were stationed in the area. I remember he added "quote me."

Now, if it is true and confirmed that indeed the Guinean troops that established themselves in Yenga since at least the year 2000, have withdrawn from the area, it is but appropriate for the Government of Sierra Leone to come out with a clear cut statement to the effect to end this chapter in the history of our country. It is only then that many Sierra Leonean skeptics on this issue like myself and the international community would take it for granted. Otherwise .................

I am sure my colleagues who write for the international press would be too eager to give the Government Statement the widest international publicity it deserves.

Clarence Roy-Macaulay

National and International award-winning Journalist

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