“The proliferation and abuse of over 500 million small arms and light weapons in circulation in the world caused million of deaths in the last decade alone”.
This was disclosed by the Deputy Chief of Defence staff and military spokesman, Brigadier Nelson Williams while delivering his keynote address yesterday at the China House Friendship hall in a National Youth Conference on post election peace building organized by the Sierra Leone Action Network on Small Arms (SLANSA) in collaboration with other partners.
He added that these weapons include the assault rifles, light and heavy machine guns, rocket propelled grenades, individual portable mortars, missiles and anti personeel landmines.
The Deputy Chief of Defence noted that readily available, affordable, easy to maintain, conceal, smuggle and use, light weapons have prompted ordinary citizens and self- styled freedom fighters and non- state actors in Africa to try to solve their problems and achieve their goals by violent means.
On October 31st 1998, he recalled 16 heads of states of the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) declared a three year moratorium on the importation, exportation and manufacture of small arms and light weapons and encouraged the international community to support the implementation of the said moratorium.
Mr Nelson- Williams maintained that Sierra Leone like other countries in ECOWAS is striving to come to terms with the proliferation of Small Arms Weapon (SALW), adding further that, “the danger of proliferation of SALW are exemplified not only in the plethora of civil conflicts in the sub region but also illegal dealing in SALW and serious crime.
In a democracy, like Sierra Leone he went on, some of the most critical decisions that our leaders must take are decision about peace, war and security.
Those decisions must be taken with the best interest of the people without tribal affiliations, a benefits or sentiments said the chief of defence staff.
He said youths have a crucial role to play in post elections peace building and that they must remember that “the citizens of democratic Sierra Leone value the contributions of youths toward protecting the nation from internal and external enemies.
The military spokesman pointed out that, he expect every member of SLANSA, West African Network for Peace Building (WANEP) and Media Foundation for West Africa to maintain a sense of professionalism, commitment to preservation of peace, security and loyalty to elected leaders.
In her statement ,Theodora Williams from Ghana who represented FOSDA said that despite the intensity of the political tension during the elections youth stood their ground to maintain peace and free and fair elections.
She revealed that, “the unfortunate thing about the conflicts that bedeviled Africa in the last two decades is that the vulnerable youth are most victimized.
They are enrolled as child soldiers, their education is disrupted prolonging their years in schools if not permanently terminated, some loose their parents and families which makes integration back in to society a lot more difficult said Ms Williams.
In his statement, Member of Parliament Ibrahim Sorie Kamara said that, “we are committed to ensure that democracy work and we are committed to ensure that good governance prevail and By Abibatu Kamara