Security Council stresses importance of bolstering Sierra Leone armed forces police

After hearing a briefing in New York by a senior UN official on the latest developments concerning the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), the President of the Security Council said its 15 members welcomed Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s intention to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the security situation in the country, and hailed progress made in the implementation of key benchmarks.”Council members reiterated the importance of strengthening the Sierra Leone army and police and urged the Government of Sierra Leone and donors to work together,” Ambassador Heraldo Muñoz of Chile said in a press statement. “They also encouraged the Government to continue its efforts to stop illicit diamond mining and smuggling.”In addition, members welcomed the Secretary-General’s intention to provide support to this year’s local elections in Sierra Leone through UNAMSIL, according to Ambassador Muñoz, who also encouraged continued cooperation between that mission and other UN operations in West Africa.Meanwhile on the ground, UN peacekeepers and the Sierra Leone Armed Forces conducted a joint tactical operation code named “Exercise Hammer Strike.”The exercise is part of various training programmes aimed at building the capacity of the Sierra Leone security sector as the UN Mission winds down its work. The 10-day operation emphasizes coordination at various tiers of command between UNAMSIL troops and the Sierra Leone Armed Forces. Video of Council President reading statement

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