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CAFOD welcomes peaceful Sierra Leone elections

 The Catholic aid agency CAFOD welcomes the news that today's elections in Sierra Leone have passed in "the spirit of peace and tolerance", as encouraged by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. However it urges a note of caution amongst the jubilation that the once war-ravaged country seems to be entering a new era of calm. Historically Sierra Leone and its neighbour Liberia have been caught in a cycle of violence. This cycle has seen wars in Sierra Leone break the peace in Liberia and vice versa. While Sierra Leone is now peaceful, there is every possibility that the calm could be threatened by the war over the border in Liberia. Yesterday fierce fighting was reported near the Liberian capital Monrovia and the Liberian Government has sent in extra troops to try and hold back rebel forces. CAFOD believes that careful thought must be given before any of the peacekeeping forces from Britain and the United Nations are withdrawn. The aid agency's West Africa Team Leader Antonio Cabral warned that the end of the elections is not an end in itself, especially if peacekeeping troops are withdrawn. "It is like putting all the police in one street and expecting all the crimes to go away, the criminals will just move to another street. Then when you move the police out, the crime will return," he commented