“Sierra Leone observes with deep concern the increased instances of incursions by Guinean troops in Yenga” Bio
By Alpha Kamara in New York
President Dr Julius Maada Bio has expressed concern over the border dispute between Sierra Leone and Guinea. He raised the issue during the 58th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government via video conference.
“Sierra Leone observes with deep concern the increased instances of incursions by Guinean troops in the Yenga area which is in the undisputed sovereign territory of Sierra Leone. The issue remains unresolved and our Guinean counterparts have continued to encroach on Sierra Leone’s land and sea borders,” Bio said.
President Bio, therefore, urged the regional body ECOWAS to urgently create a special committee to look into the unsolved Yenga matter between the two countries through diplomatic engagement with a view to finding a lasting solution to this long-standing boundary dispute.
He further informed his colleague heads of state that he was very concerned about the restrictions imposed from the Guinean end on the free movement of goods and people between the two countries thereby creating a huge economic loss for both countries.
“I urge the Government of Guinea to consider removing these restrictions to enable the free movement of people, goods and services in order to promote cooperation, regional trade, and regional integration,” he said.
He also commended the ECOWAS Commission President, Dr Kassi Brou, a native of Cote d’Ivoire, for the comprehensive update on the state of the community, emphasizing that Sierra Leone subscribed to the analyses of the community’s political, security, and economic situation in substantial terms.
It could be recalled that Sierra Leone and Guinea have been fighting a cold war over the ownership of Yenga, in the East of the country. Yenga is found in Kissi Teng Chiefdom, Kailahun District in the Eastern province. The two sides in 2012 pledged to resolve the dispute over control of the town through dialogue. Guinean troops entered Yenga more than 18 decade ago, to help the Sierra Leonean army fight rebels. They refused to hand the town back to the Sierra Leonean government after defeating the uprising.
Before the just concluded Guinea elections, President Alpha Conde accused Sierra Leone’s Vice President Juldeh Jalloh of aiding the opposition candidate Cellou Dalein Diallo to unseat him. Since then, the relationship between the two neighboring countries has been sour.