MP wants colonial powers resolve Yenga dispute

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Hon. Emilia Lolloh Tongi of Constituency 001, Kailahun District

By Alfred Koroma

An Independent Member of the Sierra Leone Parliament has called for government to involve the French and the British colonial powers to help resolve the dispute over Yenga, a village in the Eastern province of Sierra Leone, largely occupied by the Kissi people.

Speaking in the Well of Parliament on Thursday last week, Hon. Emilia Lolloh Tongi, who represents Constituency 001 covering Yenga, said Guineans have crossed over the territory, forcing Sierra Leonean residents to move out.

She called on the Speaker of Parliament to get in touch with Sierra Leone’s Foreign Affairs Minister and let him call in the British and French to bring Sierra Leone and Guinea for a lasting solution to the dispute over Yenga Village.

Yenga, a village at the border between Sierra Leone and Guinea in Kissi Teng Chiefdom, Kailahun District, is originally part of Sierra Leone.

 Guineans came to occupy the territory during the civil war in Sierra Leone. It follows after Guinean troops were sent into the village to help Sierra Leone army suppress the RUF rebels. But the Guineans remained in the community after the war ended, eventually claiming ownership of the territory. Since then, there has been dispute between residents of both countries over who own the village largely occupied by the Kissi people of Sierra Leone.

In 2005, the neighboring countries signed an agreement that Yenga belonged to Sierra Leone. Later in 2012, they declared that the village be demilitarized.

 But the dispute over ownership of the area remains unresolved despite the many bilateral agreements signed.

Speaking to SLBC last month, Sierra Leone citizens in Yenga complaint their Guinean counterparts are claiming ownership of the community and destroying properties belonging to them.  Guinea military officers have entered the community back moving around with weapons, they told the state media, claiming the operation has affected their normal activities. 

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