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Renegades Rally For Peace As Battle Looms

Mon., June 9, 1997

Soldiers who seized control of Sierra Leone in a violent coup two weeks ago reopened the country’s borders Sunday and staged a rally to appeal for a peaceful solution to the crisis.

The coup leaders also appealed to the international community not to use military force to return the civilian regime to power.

“Let us agree that the diplomatic option will be the answer to the problem,” coup leader Maj. Johnny Paul Koroma told The Associated Press.

“We are not prepared for military intervention.”

Reinforcements continued to arrive Sunday for a West African force led by Nigeria. The force, which seeks the reinstatement of democratically elected President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah, launched an offensive last week that led to fighting which left more than 50 dead in this impoverished nation.

Koroma has admitted that his force would not be able to face down the Nigerians.

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