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Key Issues Moving Forward

Certainly in the early stages, the development of security system transformation in Sierra Leone was not a joined up process. There is still a legacy of this lack of coherence. Rivalry between some political institutions may have calmed down following the elections in August 2007 (while always remaining a significant threat), but these rivalries remain between security institutions and between security and non-security political and government organisations. The ONS continues to be a key actor in the security architecture and yet, despite all of the developments over ten years, there remains a need for a UK adviser to

protect the organisation from accusations of political bias (which appear almost on a weekly basis in the media).

At the same time, there are serious implications surrounding sustainability raised by the level of commitment the Government is willing to put into the security system. There is a feeling that security is ‘solved’ in Sierra Leone, along with a recognition that the focus of Government efforts needs to move on to economic development. Whilst this may be true in the interim, the poor economic situation itself could lead to a worsening security situation. If there is no political commitment from Government or external agencies to maintain a clearly unsustainable security apparatus, a decline in services provided by Sierra Leone’s security system may occur.

In this regard, the growth of criminality and associated criminal gangs is of particular interest, since their economic power makes them relatively powerful.

Given this, the existence of a functioning Sierra Leonean security system is a regional issue, not just a national one. From the point of view of donors, continuing to evolve the existing functioning security institutions may not only be morally justifiable but far cheaper than letting them fall into disrepair and then having to intervene further down the line. In fact, there is a very strong case to make for enhancing the ability of existing institutions to liaise not only with regional security institutions through ECOWAS, but also with the national security organisations of Liberia and Guinea.

The issue of backing individuals has resulted in a group of Sierra Leonean staff which is committed to security system transformation, individuals who have excellent relationships with their international counterparts. However, the downside to this approach is that a great deal is invested in these specific individuals. This is probably less problematic in the SLP and RSLAF, where there has been a huge effort to deliberately construct a cohort of capable officers. In the intelligence architecture in particular, the success of the ONS relies on a very small group of people; how long these individuals can be expected to continue in these roles and who would succeed them is an on-going issue. In the case of intelligence, so much relies on culture that it is impossible to simply

build a critical mass of intelligence officers to take over. It is inevitable that some form of international support needs to continue to ensure their independence. Similarly, in the case of civilian oversight of defence, institutional memory in the MoD goes back to 1999 at best; with only a few civil servants trained to staff the Ministry, the civil-military balance is inevitably fragile.

At the same time, having said that the SLP and RSLAF are operational – which they are – issues of sustainability have haunted many of the developments over the whole time period. It is clear that the current establishment of the RSLAF is too big and ambitions for greater capability may well be the result of raised expectations rather than planning based on sound principles of revenue or sustainability.

The question of sustainability raises the difficult issue of an exit strategy. At some point, the long-term commitment of the MoU with the UK will need to be replaced, but the danger is that a rapid removal of support for the security system will destroy the confidence built up over the previous ten years. In practice, this would result in a situation where poor economic conditions are compounded by an unsustainable security system where conditions of service decline and there are few prospects for servicemen outside the military or police. Different models for sustained advisory support could be considered, which is not institutionally or programmatically embedded in IMATT or SILSEP, but centred around a team of advisors with experience in different areas of relevance to the institutions that comprise the security system284. Indeed, this may be the most realistic way of constructing an exit strategy, while ensuring that ‘political space’ is maintained to continue Sierra Leone’s security system transformation process. For the work that has been done over the past two years regarding an exit strategy, and the work that is being planned, see Box 25.

In late 2006 a working group was formed to develop a workable model for a future programme which would involve a merged IMATT and SILSEP programme working across the security architecture. The initial authors of this proposed Integrated Security Advisory and Training Team (ISATT) left shortly after setting up the working group and their successors in DfID, the High Commission and IMATT failed to fully agree to the proposed structure. Consequently the ISATT was not taken forward at that point in time. What did come out of the discussions, however, was an agreement that the next phases of SSR in Sierra Leone needed to involve closer working and coordination between IMATT, SILSEP, JSDP and the High Commission. A security sector coordinator was appointed to both fulfil this role, coordinating UK Government activities, and act as an adviser to the ONS.

The UK did not begin exit planning around security-related programming in that point in time as it was widely expected that SILSEP would be extended to give time for greater funding and ownership of the programme post-elections by the Government of Sierra Leone. DfID had recently signed a joint country strategy with the EC committing them to increase support to health, water and education and draw down programmes in minerals and security. The rationale for this change in direction was the human development statistics in Sierra Leone, including the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the world, and the state of stability and peace in the country. The argument followed that long-term stability could only be guaranteed if citizens were given basic services and opportunities, the lack of which had led to widespread dissatisfaction and the start of the civil war to begin with. So, although drawing down security-related programming, DfID’s new direction was focussed on service delivery to reduce poverty and prevent a return to conflict.

In autumn of 2007, the result of the resource allocation round was announced, and DfID Sierra Leone was given a lower than expected budget – budget increases were not to happen in 2008-2009, but in the outer few years of the exercise. This led to a cost cutting exercises, the result of which was a decision to reduce spends in 2008-2009 by accelerating the direction laid out in the Joint Country Strategy for Sierra Leone (JCSP), developed with the EC. The Head of DfID Sierra Leone made the decision to not extend SILSEP post-2007. However, a bid was submitted to ACPP, which was accepted, giving, as a point of departure, one extra year of support to ONS and CISU primarily.

In parallel with these developments, as part of the process of beginning the development of an exit strategy, meetings were held across the UK Government and with ONS, CISU and the Ministry of Finance on how to ensure sustainability of the institutions established under SILSEP since 1999, including Government of Sierra Leone ownership and funding. The APC Government was finding its feet, and the core priority of the ONS was to prove its effectiveness. With this in mind, ONS submitted a budget for the use of ACPP funding to DfID, and instigated discussions with the Ministry of Finance on funding after March 2009. A big focus of ONS, as already noted in this book, was Box 25: Exit Strategy285

revenue generation, for instance by increasing capacity of the Joint Maritime Authority, and by supporting the combat of trafficking. DfID also made a subsequent bid to the ACPP to build new accommodation for ONS and CISU allowing them to move outside of State House, and create a physical space for the organisations’ continuity post- DfID support.

Recognising the urgent need for an exit strategy, in early 2008, the UK Government began work on a strategy for UK Government reduction of support to security-related programming. This time, rather than an ISATT, IMATT would follow its proposed glide path and DfID and the High Commission would complement the glide path through reducing budget support and advisory support gradually over the coming three years. Each subsequent bid to what had now become one collective Conflict Prevention Pool (CPP), rather than a GCPP and an ACPP, would match the SSR transition strategy which would be an annex to the overall UK strategy for Sierra Leone. The bid for 2009- 2010 was a single bid from UK agencies in Sierra Leone, which requested funding against this agreed exit strategy. The exit strategy will be shared widely with the Government of Sierra Leone, in particular the Ministry of Finance and ONS, to ensure that it will be able to take over UK support as it is drawn down.

At the time of writing, this strategy and the UK strategy are being finalized.

Box 25: Continued

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