41. Sierra Leone (1961-present)

 

Pre-Crisis Phase (April 27, 1961-March 20, 1967): Sierra Leone formally achieved its independence from Britain and became a member of the Commonwealth of Nations (CON) on April 27, 1961.  Parliamentary elections were held on May 25, 1962, and the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) won 28 out of 74 seats in the National Assembly.  The All-People’s Congress (APC) won 16 seats in the National Assembly.  Parliamentary elections were  held on March 17, 1967, and the APC won 32 out of 78 seats in the National Assembly.  The SLPP won 28 seats in the National Assembly.

Crisis Phase (March 21, 1967-April 21, 1971):  The Governor-General of Sierra Leone, Sir Henry Lightfoot-Boston, who had unsuccessfully attempted to arrange an APC-SLPP coalition government, appointed Siaka Stevens of the APC as prime minister on March 21, 1967.  Prime Minister Stevens was overthrown in a military rebellion led by General David Lansana on March 21, 1967. General Lansana announced that the appointment of Siaka Stevens as prime minister was unconstitutional since elections for twelve “paramount chiefs” had not yet been concluded.  On March 21, 1967, General Lansana declared martial law after some 40 individuals were killed during demonstrations against the military rebellion. General Lansana was overthrown in a military rebellion led by Major Charles Blake on March 23-24, 1967, and the eight-member National Reformation Council (NRC) headed by Lt. Colonel Andrew Juxton-Smith took control of the government on March 24, 1967. The NRC dissolved political parties and suspended the constitution. The NRC lifted martial law on April 3, 1968. The NRC was overthrown in a military rebellion led by Sergeant-Major Amadou Rogers on April 18, 1968, resulting in the deaths of two individuals. Sergeant-Major Rogers announced the formation of the seven-member National Interim Council (NIC) on April 18, 1968. The National Interim Council turned control of the government over to a civilian government headed by Prime Minister Siaka Stevens on April 26, 1968. Some 20 individuals were killed in political violence in Bo on September 24, 1968. Prime Minister Stevens declared a state-of-emergency on November 20, 1968. Prime Minister Stevens discovered a military plot to overthrow the government, and declared a state-of-emergency on September 14, 1970. The United Democratic Party (UDP) was established by John Karefa, Mohammed Forna, and Mohammed Bash-Taqi in opposition to the government on September 20, 1970. The parliament ratified the state-of-emergency on October 21, 1970. The government suppressed a military rebellion on January 21-22, 1971. The government suppressed a military rebellion on March 23, 1971, resulting in the deaths of four individuals. Guinea deployed some 200 troops in support of the government on March 28, 1971. The parliament declared the Republic of Sierra Leone, and elected Siaka Stevens as president on April 21, 1971. Some 100 individuals were killed during the crisis.

Post-Crisis Phase (April 22, 1971-January 29, 1977): On June 29, 1971, four military officers were executed for their involvement in the March 1971 military rebellion. Cuba provided military assistance (military advisers) in support of the government between November 1972 and May 1973.  Legislative elections were held on May 15, 1973, and the All People’s Congress (APC) won 84 out of 97 seats in the National Assembly.

Crisis Phase (January 30, 1977-March 22, 1991): Students demonstrated against the government in Freetown on January 30-31, 1977, resulting in the deaths of some 35 individuals. President Stevens declared a state-of-emergency on February 1, 1977.  Seven members of the All People’s Congress (APC) were killed in political violence on April 15, 1977.  Legislative elections were held on May 6, 1977, and the APC won 70 out of 100 seats in the National Assembly.  The SLPP won 15 seats in the National Assembly.  A new constitution establishing a one-party state was approved in a referendum held on June12, 1978, and President Stevens of the APC began serving a second seven-year term as president on June 14, 1978.  President Stevens declared a three month state-of-emergency on September 1, 1981, resulting in the arrest of 87 individuals.  Legislative elections were held on May 1, 1982, and the All People’s Congress (APC) won 85 out of 104 seats in the National Assembly.  The Sierra Leone Democratic Party (SLDP) was established in London on July 30, 1984. Joseph Saidu Momoh was elected president without opposition on October 1, 1985.  Legislative elections were held on May 29-30, 1986, and the All People’s Congress (APC) won 105 out of 127 seats in the National Assembly.  The government suppressed a military rebellion on March 23, 1987. On October 17, 1987, sixteen individuals were sentenced to death for their involvement in the military rebellion (six of the individuals were executed on October 7-8, 1989).  The government declared a state-of-emergency on November 2, 1987.  The government renewed the state-of-emergency on March 8, 1988.  Some 100 individuals were killed during the crisis.

Conflict Phase (March 23, 1991-November 30, 1996): The Revolutionary United Front (RUF) led by Foday Sankoh rebelled against the government of President Momoh beginning on March 23, 1991. Nigeria and Guinea deployed troops in Sierra Leone in support of the government’s conflict against the RUF rebels (seven Guinean soldiers were killed by RUF rebels in Sierra Leone in September 1995). A new constitution establishing a multi-party political system was approved in a referendum on August 30, 1991, and the constitution went into effect on October 1, 1991. The ban on political parties was lifted on September 30, 1991. President Momoh was deposed in a military coup led by Captain Valentine Strasser on April 29, 1992. President Joseph Saidu Momoh was deposed in a military coup led by Captain Valentine Strasser on April 29, 1992. Captain Strasser declared a state-of-emergency on April 30, 1992, and he was named chairman of the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC) on May 1, 1992.  The NPRC dissolved the parliament and suspended political activity on May 4, 1992. The NPRC was renamed the Supreme Council of State (SCS) on July 14, 1992. The SCS violently suppressed a rebellion on December 28, 1992, and 26 individuals were executed for their involvement in the rebellion. The government lifted the ban on political parties on June 21, 1995. Government troops suppressed a military rebellion on October 2-3, 1995, resulting in the arrest of seven military personnel. Captain Strasser was deposed in a military coup led by General Julius Maada Bio on January 16, 1996, and the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC) headed by General Maada Bio took control of the government on January 19, 1996. South Africa condemned the military coup on January 17, 1996.  Legislative elections were held between February 26 and March 15, 1996, and the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) won 27 out of 68 seats in the National Assembly. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah of the SLPP was elected president with 59 percent of the vote in the second round of presidential elections on March 15, 1996. The United Nations sent observers to monitor the presidential and legislative elections from February 19 to March 16, 1996. The Commonwealth of Nations (CON) sent 18 observers from eleven countries headed by S. K. Singh of India to monitor the presidential and legislative elections from February 17 to March 16, 1996. Some 27 individuals were killed in political violence in Freetown and Bo on February 25-27, 1996.  Ahmad Tejan Kabbah was inaugurated as president on March 31, 1996.  Foreign Minister Amara Essy of the Ivory Coast mediated negotiations between representatives of the Sierra Leone government and the RUF in Abidjan beginning on February 25, 1996. RUF rebels attacked several villages in the Bo district on February 28, 1996, resulting in the deaths of two individuals. RUF rebels attacked several villages near Kamasundu on March 5-8, 1996, resulting in the deaths of some 40 individuals. Government troops responded by attacking a RUF rebel base in the Kangari Hills region on March 8-9, 1996, resulting in the deaths of some 35 rebels. General Julius Maada Bio and RUF leader Foday Sankoh met in Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast on March 25-26 and April 22, 1996, and signed a temporary ceasefire agreement on April 23, 1996.  Representatives of the government and RUF held peace negotiations in Abidjan, Ivory Coast beginning on May 7, 1996.  RUF rebels killed 31 civilians and seven government soldiers in the village of Foindu on August 26, 1996.  RUF rebels killed 36 individuals in Masanga on October 20, 1996.  President Kabbah and Foday Sankoh of the RUF signed a peace agreement in Abidjan, Ivory Coast on November 30, 1996. Some 25,000 individuals were killed, and some 200,000 individuals were displaced during the conflict.

Post-Conflict Phase (December 1, 1996-January 3, 1999): The World Food Programme (WFP) initiated a food assistance program in Sierra Leone on January 29, 1997.  Foday Sankoh, leader of the RUF, was arrested in Nigeria on March 12, 1997.  President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah was overthrown in a military coup led by Major Johnny Paul Koroma on May 25, 1997, resulting in the deaths of some 15 individuals.  The United Nations (UN) Security Council condemned the military coup on May 27, 1997.  Major Koroma abolished the constitution, and banned political parties on May 28, 1997. World Vision International (WVI) suspended humanitarian assistance in Sierra Leone on May 29, 1997. A 20-member Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) headed by Major Koroma took control of the government on June 1, 1997, and Major Koroma was sworn in as president on June 17, 1997.  The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) condemned the military coup, and deployed some 9,000 peacekeeping troops (ECOMOG-Sierra Leone) from Nigeria, Guinea, and Mali headed by Major-General Victor Malu of Nigeria at the Freetown airport on June 1, 1997.  Nigerian naval ships shelled rebel targets in Freetown on June 2, 1997, resulting in the deaths of 62 individuals.  The Organization of African Unity (OAU) condemned the military coup on June 4, 1997.  Some 100 individuals were killed in political violence during the two weeks following the rebellion, and 300,000 individuals fled the country as refugees.  In June 1997, ECOWAS foreign ministers established a four-member conciliation committee (Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, and Nigeria) to mediate negotiations between the parties.  The Commonwealth of Nations (CON) imposed diplomatic sanctions (suspension of membership) against the military government on July 11, 1997.  The ECOWAS conciliation committee mediated negotiations between the parties in Abidjan, Ivory Coast on July 17-30, 1997.  The UN Security Council condemned the military rebellion on August 6, 1997.  ECOWAS imposed economic sanctions (trade embargo) against the military government on August 30, 1997.  Francis Okelo of Uganda was appointed as special envoy of the UN secretary-general to Sierra Leone on September 3, 1997.  The UN Security Council imposed economic sanctions (oil embargo) and military sanctions (arms embargo) against the military government on October 8, 1997.  ECOWAS established a five-member conciliation committee (Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Liberia, and Nigeria) to resume mediation of negotiations between the parties.  The ECOWAS conciliation committee mediated an agreement between the parties on October 24, 1997, which provided for the restoration of President Kabbah.  ECOWAS peacekeeping troops clashed with AFRC troops in Freetown on February 6-12, 1998, and deposed the government of Major Koroma on February 13, 1998.  Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) appealed for a ceasefire on February 12, 1998.  The World Food Program (WFP) provided humanitarian assistance to individuals displaced during the conflict beginning on February 24, 1998. Ahmed Tejan Kabbah returned to Freetown, and was re-instated as president on March 10, 1998.  Supporters of the AFRC and members of the RUF resisted the authority of the government of President Kabbah, and committed atrocities against civilians following the restoration of President Kabbah.  The UN Security Council lifted economic sanctions (oil embargo) against the government on March 16, 1998.  President Kabbah declared a state-of-emergency on March 18, 1998.  On May 20, 1998, the UN Security Council condemned the RUF and AFRC for atrocities and human rights abuses against civilians.  The UN Security Council lifted military sanctions (arms embargo) against the government on June 5, 1998.  The UN Security Council imposed economic sanctions (travel ban) and military sanctions (arms embargo) against the RUF on June 5, 1998.  EU foreign ministers imposed military sanctions (arms embargo) against the rebels on June 5, 1998.  On June 29, 1998, the Council of the EU imposed economic sanctions (travel ban) against members of the former military junta and leaders of the RUF.  On July 13, 1998, the UN Security Council established the United Nations Observer Mission in Sierra Leone (UNOMSIL) to monitor the security situation in the country; to monitor the disarmament and demobilization of members of the RUF and AFRC, as well as members of the Civil Defense Forces (CDF); and to assist in monitoring respect for international humanitarian law.  The military component of UNOMSIL consisted of 192 military observers and 15 other military personnel from 28 countries commanded by Brigadier-General Subhash C. Joshi of India.  UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed Francis Okela as UN Special Representative on July 13, 1998.  On July 29, 1998, Human Rights Watch (HRW) condemned the AFRC and RUF for human rights abuses against civilians.  On October 12, 1998, a military court condemned 34 military personnel to death for involvement in the 1997 military coup.  On October 19, 1998, the government executed 24 rebel soldiers near Freetown for their involvement in the May 1997 military rebellion.  On October 19, 1998, HRW condemned the government for the executions.  Foday Sankoh, leader of the RUF, was sentenced to death by the government on October 23, 1998.  RUF rebels killed 16 villagers in northern Sierra Leone on November 15, 1998.  Government troops clashed with RUF rebels north of Freetown on December 6, 1998, resulting in the deaths of at least 51 rebels.  More than 30,000 individuals were killed in political violence from December 1996 to December 1998, and some 300,000 individuals fled as refugees to Liberia and Guinea.

Conflict Phase (January 4, 1999-May 18, 1999): RUF rebels launched a military offensive against government troops in Freetown on January 4, 1999.  The UN Security Council condemned the RUF on January 7, 1999, and the European Union (EU) condemned the RUF on January 12, 1999.  The ICRC suspended humanitarian assistance in Sierra Leone on January 13, 1999.  Some 6,350 individuals were killed during violence in Freetown.  The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) condemned the RUF for atrocities against civilians on February 23, 1999.  On March 8, 1999, President Kabbah asked President Gnassingbe Eyadema of Togo to mediate in the conflict in Sierra Leone.  RUF rebels ambushed and killed some 60 individuals on the Mabang River on April 6, 1999.  An ICRC mission consisting of some 12 international personnel and 50 local personnel resumed emergency humanitarian assistance to individuals displaced by the conflict on May 17, 1999.  The government and RUF rebels agreed to a cessation of military hostilities in Lome, Togo on May 18, 1999.  Some 10,000 individuals were killed, and some 150,000 individuals were displaced during the conflict.

Post-Conflict Phase (May 19, 1999-May 2, 2000): The UN, OAU, and ECOWAS facilitated negotiations in Lome beginning on May 25, 1999.  President Kabbah and RUF leader Foday Sankoh signed a peace agreement in Lome on July 7, 1999. UNOMSIL was terminated on October 22, 1999.  On October 22, 1999, the UN Security Council established the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL)  to assist the government of Sierra Leone in the implementation of the disarmament and demobilization of RUF rebels; to monitor the terms of the ceasefire agreement; to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance; and to provide security at key locations, government buildings, and major airports.  The military component of UNAMSIL consisted of some 17,100 peacekeeping troops and 260 military observers from 28 countries commanded by Major-General Vijay Kumar Jetley of India.  The civilian police component of UNAMSIL, which was responsible for assisting local police in maintaining law and order, consisted of some 87 civilian police personnel from 28 countries commanded by Commissioner Joseph Dankwa of Ghana.  UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed Oluyemi Adeniji of Nigeria as UN Special Representative beginning on December 1, 1999.  The EU, US, and Britain provided emergency humanitarian assistance to displaced individuals in 1999.  ECOMOG peacekeeping troops withdrew from Sierra Leone on May 2, 2000.

Conflict Phase (May 3, 2000-November 10, 2000):  RUF rebels killed two UNAMSIL soldiers on May 3, 2000.  The U.S. government condemned the RUF on May 3, 2000.  RUF rebels attacked UNAMSIL troops in Regbere (Rogberi Junction) on May 6, 2000, resulting in the deaths of six UNAMSIL soldiers.  Twenty individuals were killed in political violence in Freetown on May 8, 2000.  RUF rebels attacked UN peacekeeping troops in Port Loko on May 16, 2000, resulting in the death of one UNAMSIL peacekeeping soldier.  President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah requested military assistance from the British government, and some 1,300 British troops were deployed in support of the government (Operation Palliser) on May 7, 2000.  British troops killed three rebels during clashes in Lungi Lo on May 17, 2000.  Britain and other Commonwealth of Nations (CON) countries agreed to establish the International Military Advice and Training Team (IMATT) in support of the government on May 20, 2000.  IMATT consisted of some 200 British military personnel and personnel from seven other countries.  Four government soldiers and two civilians were killed in a rebel ambush near Rogbere on May 24, 2000.  Government troops and RUF rebels clashed in the Rogbere area on May 27, 2000, resulting in the deaths of 29 rebels and 12 government soldiers.  ECOWAS heads-of-state agreed to sent a six-member conciliation commission (Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Togo) to Sierra Leone on May 29, 2000.  The ICRC resumed its humanitarian mission in the country on May 31, 2000.  OAU Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim appointed Jeremiah Mamabolo of South Africa as special envoy on June 12, 2000.  British combat troops withdrew from the country on June 15, 2000. Amnesty International (AI) condemned the RUF on June 16, 2000.  RUF rebels attacked UN peacekeeping troops near Masiaka on June 30, 2000, resulting in the death of one UN peacekeeping soldier.  The UN Security Council imposed economic sanctions (ban on diamond exports) against Sierra Leone on July 5, 2000.  One UNAMSIL soldier was killed by RUF rebels near Rogbere on July 16, 2000.  President Charles Taylor of Liberia appealed for a ceasefire on November 3, 2000.  The government and RUF rebels signed a ceasefire agreement in Abuja, Nigeria on November 10, 2000.  Some 10,000 individuals were killed, and some 100,000 individuals were displaced during the conflict.

Post-Conflict Phase (November 11, 2000-December 31, 2005): Six UN peacekeepers from Zambia were killed in an accidental mortar explosion on January 5, 2002.  Five UNAMSIL soldiers were accidentally killed on January 7, 2002.  The UN-sponsored disarmament program involving 45,000 RUF rebels was completed on January 13, 2002.  The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UN jointly established a “reintegration program” in Koinadugu and Kono on January 15, 2002.  UN and government representatives signed an agreement on January 17, 2002, which provided for the establishment of a war crimes tribunal.  President Kabbah lifted the state-of-emergency on March 1, 2002.  President Kabbah was re-elected with 70 percent of the vote on May 14, 2002, and he was inaugurated for a second term on May 19, 2002.  Legislative elections were held on May 14, 2002, and the SLPP won 83 out of 112 seats in the House of Representatives.  The All People’s Congress (APC) won 22 seats in the House of Representatives. The Commonwealth of Nations (CON) sent six observers and five staff personnel headed by Lloyd Axworthy of Canada to monitor the presidential and legislative elections from May 6 to May 16, 2002. ECOWAS sent 30 observers from 13 countries headed by Theresa Striggner-Scott of Ghana, to monitor the presidential and legislative elections from May 4 to May 20, 2002. The Carter Center (CC) sent 25 observers to monitor the presidential and legislative elections from May 5 to May 15, 2002. The European Union (EU) sent six election experts, 20 long-term observers, and 64 short-term observers headed by Johan Van Hecke to monitor the elections from April 15 to May 15, 2002.  The British-led IMATT was disbanded on July 28, 2002.  Eight individuals from Austria, Britain, Cameroon, Canada, Gambia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone were sworn in as judges for the United Nations Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) on December 2, 2002.  The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) began hearings on April 7, 2003.  The UN Security Council lifted economic sanctions (ban on diamond exports) against Sierra Leone on June 4, 2003.  Former RUF leader Foday Sankoh died from complications related to a stroke on July 29, 2003.  On December 1, 2003, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced the appointment of Daudi Ngelautwa Mwakawago of Tanzania as UN Special Representative in Sierra Leone.  UN Special Representative Daudi Ngelautwa Mwakawago of Tanzania arrived in Sierra Leone on January 12, 2004.  Local government elections were held on May 22, 2004.  The Commonwealth of Nations (CON) sent four observers and three staff members to monitor the local elections from May 17 to May 27, 2004.  UNAMSIL was disbanded on December 31, 2005.  Some 192 UNAMSIL personnel, including 169 peacekeeping troops, two military observers, and one civilian police personnel, were killed during the mission.  Daudi Ngelautwa Mwakawago resigned as UN Special Representative on December 31, 2005.

Post-Crisis Phase (January 1, 2006-present):  The UN Security Council established the United Nations Integrated Office in Sierra Leone (UNIOSIL) beginning on January 1, 2006.  UNIOSIL, which was mandated with assisting the government with the consolidation of peace, security, and the rule of law in the country, included fourteen military observers, 21 civilian police personnel, and 75 international civilian staff personnel headed by UN Executive Representative Victor da Silva Angelo of Portugal.  Legislative elections were held on August 11, 2007, and the APC won 59 out of 124 seats in the House of Representatives.  The SLPP won 43 seats in the House of Representatives.  On September 8, 2007, Ernest Bai Koroma of the APC was elected with 55 percent of the vote in the second round of presidential elections.  The European Union (EU) sent 88 observers from 25 countries led by Marie Anne Isler Begiun of France to monitor the presidential and legislative elections from July 6 to September 24, 2007. The National Democratic Institute (NDI) sent 42 observers from 16 countries to monitor the presidential and legislative elections from August 6 to September 10, 2007.  The Commonwealth of Nations (CON) sent seven observers led by Kenny Anthony of St. Lucia to monitor the presidential and legislative elections from July 21 to September 9, 2007.  Ernest Bai Koroma was inaugurated as president on September 18, 2007.  One individual was killed in political violence in Freetown on September 18, 2007.  Local elections were held on July 5, 2008.  The Commonwealth of Nations (CON) sent four observers and three staff members to monitor the local elections from June 27 to July 12, 2008.  UNIOSIL was disbanded on September 30, 2008.  On October 1, 2008, the UN established the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL), including 26 international civilian personnel headed by UN Executive Representative Jens Anders Toyberg-Frandzen of Denmark.  The United Nations Special Tribunal for Sierra Leone (SCSL) found three former RUF leaders, Issa Sesay, Morris Kallon, and Augustine Gbao guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity on February 25, 2009.  The three former RUF leaders were sentenced to prison terms on April 8, 2009.  The UN Security Council lifted economic sanctions (travel ban) and military sanctions (arms embargo) against Sierra Leone on September 29, 2010.  The EU lifted economic sanctions (travel ban) and military sanctions (arms embargo) against Sierra Leone on October 29, 2010.  On April 26, 2012, the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone found former Liberian President Charles Taylor guilty of aiding and abetting war crimes committee during the Sierra Leone civil war.   Legislative elections were held on November 17, 2012, and the APC won 67 out of 124 seats in the House of Representatives.  The SLPP won 42 seats in the House of Representatives.  President Koroma was re-elected with 59 percent of the vote in the first round of presidential elections held on November 17, 2012.  The Commonwealth of Nations (CON) sent observers led by Olara Otunna of Uganda to monitor the presidential and legislative elections.  The African Union (AU) sent 40 observers from 14 countries led by Dr. Amos Sawyer of Liberia to monitor the presidential and legislative elections from November 11 to November 24, 2012.  The Carter Center (CC) sent eight long-term observers from six countries and 34 short-term observers from an additional 12  countries to monitor the presidential and legislative elections from September 15 to November 18, 2012.  The European Union (EU) sent 28 long-term observers and 72 short-term observers from 27 countries led by Richard Howitt from the United Kingdom to monitor the presidential and legislative elections from September 27 to November 18, 2012.   The European Parliament (EP) sent four observers to monitor the presidential and legislative elections from November 15 to November 18, 2012.  The ECOWAS sent 150 observers led by Christian Edem Dovlo of Ghana to monitor the presidential and legislative elections from November 11 to November 18, 2012.

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Selected Bibliography

Fisher, Humphrey J. 1969. “Elections and Coups in Sierra Leone,” Journal of Modern African Studies, vol. 7, pp. 611-636.