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S. Leone Electoral Panel Sworn In

March 21, 2000

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (AP) _ President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah on Monday swore in an electoral commission to oversee a vote called for in a peace agreement that ended eight years of civil war, government officials said.

The pact, which brought the Revolutionary United Front rebels into a power-sharing government, calls for elections after all the warring factions are disarmed.

But many RUF fighters have refused to turn in their weapons. Cease-fire violations remain common, and the rebels have repeatedly blocked U.N. troops deployed to monitor the peace from moving freely through the country.

The RUF remains in control of much of eastern Sierra Leone, and human rights organizations have reported rebels looting villages, burning houses, raping women and mutilating civilians.

Last month, the Security Council increased the U.N. force size from an initial 6,000 to 11,100. But as of early March, only 5,880 troops had been deployed.

The RUF rebels killed tens of thousands of people and horribly disfigured thousands more in their campaign to gain power in Sierra Leone.

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