Friday, September 28, 2007

Weapons deadline in Sierra Leone

Police in Sierra Leone have ordered all civilians who own a weapon to hand them over to the police within two weeks.

Police chief Brima Acha Kamara said automatic and semi-automatic rifles, pistols, shotguns and ammunition explosives should be surrendered.

Last week there were violent attacks in the wake of Ernest Bai Koroma's victory in a presidential run-off.

Kamajor militia fighters Tens of thousands of fighters were disarmed after the war by the UN

But the BBC's Umaru Fofana in the capital, Freetown, says tensions have calmed in the country since then.

Our correspondent says that not many weapons are expected to be recovered as a comprehensive disarmament programme was conducted by the United Nations after the decade-long civil war ended in 2002.

Ernest Bai Koroma at a rally Mr Bai Koroma is a 54-year-old insurance broker

More than 17,000 peacekeepers disarmed tens of thousands of rebels and militia fighters who fought in the conflict in which some 50,000 people were killed, and many more maimed and raped.

"Failure to do so (hand in weapons) will be considered an act of defiance and the police will be at liberty to search and recover such weapons and bring the offenders to justice without mercy," Mr Kamara warned in a statement, AFP news agency reports.

Members of the armed forces and the police are exempt from the weapons ban.

Mr Bai Koroma won 54.6% of the vote in the run-off against incumbent Vice-President Solomon Berewa.

BBC NEWS | Africa | Weapons deadline in Sierra Leone