THE DAMBY TRADITION OF THE KONO OF SIERRA LEONE-WEST AFRICA

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Stevens was sworn in as Prime Minister on 21 March Within hours after taking office, Stevens was ousted in a bloodless military coup led by Brigadier General David Lansana , the commander of the Sierra Leone Armed Forces.

He was a close ally of Albert Margai, who had appointed him to the position in Lansana placed Stevens under house arrest in Freetown and insisted that the determination of Prime Minister should await the election of the tribal representatives to the House. Upon his release, Stevens went into exile in Guinea.

They reinstated the constitution and returned power to Stevens, who at last assumed the office of Prime Minister. Stevens assumed power again in with a great deal of hope and ambition.


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Stevens had campaigned on a platform of bringing the tribes together under socialist principles. Stevens reorganised the country's oil refinery, the government-owned Cape Sierra Hotel, and a cement factory.

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Stevens began efforts that would later bridge the distance between the provinces and the city. Roads and hospitals were constructed in the provinces, and Paramount Chiefs and provincial peoples became a prominent force in Freetown. Under pressure of several coup attempts, real or perceived, Stevens' rule grew more and more authoritarian , and his relationship with some of his ardent supporters deteriorated.

He removed the SLPP party from competitive politics in general elections, some believed, through the use of violence and intimidation. After the return to civilian rule, by-elections were held beginning in autumn and an all-APC cabinet was appointed. Calm was not completely restored. In November , unrest in the provinces led Stevens to declare a state of emergency across the country. Many senior officers in the Sierra Leone Army were greatly disappointed with Stevens' policies and his handling of the Sierra Leone Military, but none could confront Stevens.

Brigadier General Bangura, who had reinstated Stevens as Prime Minister, was widely considered the only person who could control Stevens. The army was devoted to Bangura, and this made him potentially dangerous to Stevens. In January , Bangura was arrested and charged with conspiracy and plotting to commit a coup against the Stevens government. After a trial that lasted a few months, Bangura was convicted and sentenced to death. On 29 March , Brigadier Bangura was executed by hanging in Freetown. After the execution of Bangura, a group of soldiers loyal to the executed Brigadier Bangura held a mutiny in the capital Freetown and in some other parts of the country in opposition of Stevens' government.

Dozens of soldiers were arrested and convicted by a court martial in Freetown for their participation in the mutiny against president Stevens. Among the soldiers arrested was a little known army Corporal Foday Sankoh , a strong supporter of Bangura. In April , a new republican constitution was adopted under which Stevens became president.

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These problems became so severe that the SLPP boycotted the general election ; as a result the APC won 84 of the 85 elected seats. An alleged plot to overthrow president Stevens failed in and its leaders were executed. In mid , Guinean soldiers, requested by Stevens, were in the country to help maintain his hold on power as Stevens was a close ally of then Guinean president Ahmed Sekou Toure.

In March , Stevens was elected without opposition for a second five-year term as president.

On 19 July , 14 senior army and government officials including David Lansana, former cabinet minister Mohamed Sorie Forna father of writer Aminatta Forna , Brigadier General Ibrahim Bash Taqi and Lieutenant Habib Lansana Kamara were executed after being convicted of allegedly attempting a coup to topple president Stevens' government. In , a nationwide student demonstration against the government disrupted Sierra Leone politics.

The demonstration was quickly put down by the army and Stevens' own personal Special Security Division SSD force, a heavily armed paramilitary force he had created to protect him and to maintain his hold on power. In , the APC-dominant parliament approved a new constitution making the country a one-party state.

Stevens is generally criticised for dictatorial methods and government corruption, but on a positive note, he kept the country stable and from collapsing into civil war. He built several government institutions that are still in use today.

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Siaka Stevens retired from politics in November after being in power for eighteen years. The APC named a new presidential candidate to succeed Stevens at their last delegate conference held in Freetown in November Like Stevens, Momoh was also a member of the minority Limba ethnic group.

Momoh was elected president as the only contesting candidate, without any opposition, and was sworn in as Sierra Leone's second president on 28 November in Freetown. A one-party parliamentary election between APC members was held in May President Momoh appointed his former military colleague and key ally, Major General Mohamed Tarawalie to succeed him as the head of the Sierra Leone Military.

Major General Tarawalie was also a strong loyalist and key supporter of president Momoh. Bambay Kamara was a key loyalist and strong supporter of President Momoh. The Sierra Leone Police under Bambay Kamara's leadership, was accused of physical violence, arrest and intimidation against critics of President Momoh's government. President Momoh's strong links with the army and his verbal attacks on corruption earned him much-needed initial support among Sierra Leoneans.

With the lack of new faces in the new APC cabinet under president Momoh and the return of many of the old faces from Stevens' government, criticisms soon arose that Momoh was simply perpetuating the rule of Stevens. The next couple of years under the Momoh administration were characterised by corruption, which Momoh defused by sacking several senior cabinet ministers. In October , owing to mounting pressure from both within and outside the country for political and economic reform, president Momoh set up a constitutional review commission to assess the one-party constitution. There was great suspicion that president Momoh was not serious about his promise of political reform, as APC rule continued to be increasingly marked by abuses of power.

The brutal civil war that was going on in neighbouring Liberia played a significant role in the outbreak of fighting in Sierra Leone.

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Sankoh was a British trained former army corporal who had also undergone guerrilla training in Libya. Taylor's aim was for the RUF to attack the bases of Nigerian dominated peacekeeping troops in Sierra Leone who were opposed to his rebel movement in Liberia. Strasser became the world's youngest Head of State when he seized power just three days after his 25th birthday. The NPRC junta established the National Supreme Council of State as the military highest command and final authority in all matters, and was exclusively made up of the highest ranking NPRC soldiers, included Strasser himself and the original soldiers who toppled president Momoh.

Turay, a key loyalist of ousted president Momoh. A heavily armed military manhunt took place across the country to find Lieutenant Sandy's killer. However, the main suspect, Major S. M Turay, went into hiding and fled the country to Guinea, fearing for his life. Dozens of soldiers loyal to the ousted president Momoh were arrested, including Colonel Kahota M.

Dumbuya and Major Yayah Turay. The NPRC Junta immediately suspended the constitution, banned all political parties, limited freedom of speech and freedom of the press and enacted a rule-by-decree policy, in which soldiers were granted unlimited powers of administrative detention without charge or trial, and challenges against such detentions in court were precluded. Dumbuya and former inspector general of police Bambay Kamara, was foiled.

Several Junior army officers led by Sergeant Mohamed Lamin Bangura were identified as being behind the coup plot. Several prominent members of the Momoh government who had been in detention at the Pa Demba Road prison, including former inspector general of police Bambay Kamara, were also executed.

On 5 July the deputy NPRC leader Sergeant Solomon Musa, who was very popular with the general population, particularly in Freetown, was arrested and sent into exile after he was accused of planning a coup to topple Strasser, an accusation Sergeant Musa denied. More and more of the country fell to RUF fighters, and by they held much of the diamond-rich Eastern Province and were at the edge of Freetown. In his first public broadcast to the nation following the coup, Brigadier Bio stated that his support for returning Sierra Leone to a democratically elected civilian government and his commitment to ending the civil war were his motivations for the coup.

President Kabbah took power with a great promise of ending the civil war. The soldiers immediately released Koroma from prison and installed him as their chairman and Head of State. Koroma suspended the constitution, banned demonstrations, shut down all private radio stations in the country and invited the RUF to join the new junta government, with its leader Foday Sankoh as the Vice-Chairman of the new AFRC-RUF coalition junta government. Within days, Freetown was overwhelmed by the presence of the RUF combatants who came to the city in thousands.

The Kamajors, a group of traditional fighters mostly from the Mende ethnic group under the command of deputy Defence Minister Samuel Hinga Norman , remained loyal to President Kabbah and defended the Southern part of Sierra Leone from the soldiers. After nine months in office, the junta was overthrown by the Nigerian-led ECOMOG forces, and the democratically elected government of president Kabbah was reinstated in February On 19 October 24 soldiers in the Sierra Leone army were executed by firing squad after they were convicted in a court martial in Freetown, some for orchestrating the coup that overthrew President Kabbah and others for failure to reverse the mutiny.

In October , the United Nations agreed to send peacekeepers to help restore order and disarm the rebels. The first of the 6,member force began arriving in December, and the UN Security Council voted in February to increase the force to 11,, and later to 13, But in May, when nearly all Nigerian forces had left and UN forces were trying to disarm the RUF in eastern Sierra Leone, Sankoh 's forces clashed with the UN troops, and some peacekeepers were taken hostage as the peace accord effectively collapsed.

The hostage crisis resulted in more fighting between the RUF and the government as UN troops launched Operation Khukri to end the siege. The situation in the country deteriorated to such an extent that British troops were deployed in Operation Palliser , originally simply to evacuate foreign nationals. However, the British exceeded their original mandate, and took full military action to finally defeat the rebels and restore order.

The British were the catalyst for the ceasefire that ended the civil war. Elements of the British Army , together with administrators and politicians, remain in Sierra Leone to this day, [ when? Tony Blair , the Prime Minister of Britain at the time of the British intervention, is regarded as a hero by the people of Sierra Leone, many of whom are keen for more British involvement. Between and , about 50, people were killed in Sierra Leone's civil war.