NZ to Enforce Sanctions Against Sierra Leone

  • Don McKinnon
Foreign Affairs and Trade

New Zealand will begin enforcing United Nations sanctions against Sierra Leone's military junta from tonight, Foreign Affairs Minister Don McKinnon said today.

The sanctions restrict the travel of Sierra Leone's military junta and ban the supply of arms and petroleum to their regime. The move is in response to a coup in May and the continuing violence and deteriorating humanitarian conditions since then.

"The coup was a tragedy for people who have endured many years of civil unrest and were only just starting to put their country together again," said Mr McKinnon.

Immediately following the coup, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), of which Mr McKinnon is deputy chair, suspended Sierra Leone's new leaders from participating in the Commonwealth councils, a move endorsed at the recent Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Edinburgh.

Mr McKinnon said the efforts of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in negotiating a peace deal, and international sanctions appear to have already had a positive reaction. Coup leaders have promised to reinstate President Kabbah within six months and to immediately end fighting with forces loyal to the ousted leader.

Mr McKinnon welcomed the junta's promises but said it is too early to tell whether the agreement had the full commitment of all parties involved in the coup.