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Deputy High Commissioner in West Africa

Briefing notes

Deputy High Commissioner in West Africa

2 November 1999

Deputy High Commissioner Frederick Barton said he found strong commitment to peace, stability and eventually refugee return during meetings with Sierra Leone's leaders and their former foes. Barton met with Sierra Leone's elected president Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, former rebel leader Foday Sankoh and ex-military junta chief Johnny Paul Koroma last Friday and Saturday.

Barton said all three appeared genuinely committed to maintaining peace in the country. "I started this war so when I say it is finished I know what I am saying," veteran rebel leader Sankoh told Barton. Barton travelled to Freetown from Guinea where he spoke with refugees from Sierra Leone's bloody civil war who asked him when they will be able to go back. Barton said while no return is likely to devastated Sierra Leone in the immediate future, it has become a far less remote prospect as peace slowly takes root.