FURTHER THOUGHTS ON LOMÉ
The present climate of confusion and threats of disruption apart, there are already stark indications of the possible shortcomings of the Lomé Agreement. The agreement tempted fate by leaving many issues to the subjective interpretation of the parties, which is bound to lead to interminable problems for implementation.

Three examples come to mind:

  • The agreement talks about President Kabbah appointing RUF ministers. Indeed the Attorney General stressed the issue, almost to the point of devaluing the essence of the relevant provision in the agreement during his address on the occasion of their London visit, that "President Kabbah will appoint and will decide"; "The RUF will only nominate and submit a list". Thus Lomé does not say which specific ministries will go to the RUF. It barely says they are entitled to four Cabinet posts, one of which is a senior portfolio, and four deputy posts.  It has been argued, rather fatuously, that it was to keep in line with the Constitution and the President's powers of appointing ministers. Poppycock! Considering the RUF and (if they are still together) the AFRC were not elected; did not take part in the elections that brought Kabbah to power; almost certainly do not, by their very act of waging war on Sierra Leone, recognise the present parliament; and have reached thus far purely through their overwhelming use of force and arms; this plea of constitutional adherence is unavailing. So what if Kabbah gives a ministry to the RUF and they do not want it because, for example, they consider it is not prestigious enough? What if the RUF refuses that post and demands another? Having gone to the extent of accepting that these people were entitled to a number of ministries, why was it not possible to spell out which these were at the Lomé Talks, so as to avoid unnecessary bickering afterwards? Politicians love to engage in horse-trading which, one suspects, is taking place right now while RUF and government ministers rub shoulders in a strange kind of camaraderie. But the reality is that none of this bears any immediate impact on the combatants on the ground who have yet to understand what is, or is not, their "entitlement" under the agreement.
  • We have already pointed out the fallacy in believing that the rebel opposition is a homogenous group or movement encompassing the aims and expectations of the various military groupings that make up its amorphous resistance to Ecomog and Kabbah's Government.  Will the RUF be sharing its crop of ministries with the AFRC or the other factions who have been fighting alongside it? And what if the other groups do not accept the RUF's offer to share? Is anyone really surprised that we are already witnessing a power struggle within the rebel fraternity even before any appointments have been made?
  • Finally, the key issue of Sierra Leone's resources has been the bottom line over which everyone has been fighting. True, the agreement emerged with a Commission for the management of strategic resources, national reconstruction and development and elaborate mechanisms for exploitation, etc. But its purpose is largely aspirational. One would have preferred to see coming out of Lomé at least a rudimentary development plan to which all parties subscribed and committed themselves for say the next 18 months to two years. As it stands, whose economic and development theory is to be applied to the governance of Sierra Leone during this period? The RUF's, the SLPP Government's, or the AFRC's. If potentially vast amounts of money are going to be generated from exploitation of our natural resources, what plan has been worked out for their disbursement and application, and to which specific priority areas? There should have been clear and more definite indicatives and agreement on issues like, for example, revenue generating, distribution and, especially, local retention of proceeds where a national resource is derived from a particular locality. These should have been dealt with so that we set out from a baseline for short-term development on which all the parties were united and had agreed to implement. The closest that the agreement gets to acknowledging this fact is in Article VII, paragraph 6, which talks in mealy-mouthed fashion about the proceeds from the transactions of gold and diamonds being public monies to be put into a special Treasury account to be spent exclusively on the development of the people of Sierra Leone. 
It seems that every ounce of energy was put into the mechanical production of the Agreement, which is not a bad thing. But the rush to clinch a deal led to many corners being cut. Yet the rush was not necessary because the desire and the urge for peace were there among the parties; the cease-fire was holding at the time; the talks, though difficult, were progressing. They should have continued with the talks to ensure that every possible ground was covered. After all there was still plenty to do out in the former battle zones, such as consolidating the cease-fire and putting confidence-building measures into place.  All areas susceptible to misunderstanding should have been cleared first before rushing to a deal. 

Nevertheless Lomé will and must stand, but must be improved. One expects that the various commissions envisaged under the agreement will engage in some strategic thinking once their work commences so that nothing contentious takes them by surprise. Short of advocating a return to the drawing board, it is the least that one can demand!
 

10/10/99