Sierra Leone. The year began with a military coup, an internal settlement within the governing junta. President Valentine Strasser was deposed by his closest husband, Brigadier General Julius Maada Bio, and sent on a national flight. Despite the coup, in February the first free elections were held in the country since 1977. The Sierra Leone People’s Party, the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), which ruled the country in the first years after independence, became by far the largest party and came to dominate the new government. Representatives of two other parties as well as union leaders and lawyers were also given government seats.
In the presidential election, SLPP candidate Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, a 64-year-old former UN official, won. He began negotiations with rebel leader Foday Sankoh on an end to the civil war that has cost at least 10,000 people since 1991, rendered nearly half the population homeless and devastated the country’s mining-based economy. Although Sankoh did not recognize the civilian government, formal ceasefire prevailed for the rest of the year, but not without reports of new civil war and massacres. A civilian militia, recruited from hunters in the rainforest, helped the army regain rebel-controlled areas. New peace negotiations began at the end of the year and resulted in a peace agreement signed on November 30 in neighboring Ivory Coast.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER.ORG: What does SL stand for? In the field of geography, this two letter acronym means Sierra Leone. Check this to see its other meanings in English and other 35 languages.
In February 1998, the UN captured ECOMOG’s major cities and territories in Sierra Leone, bringing down Koroma and the military junta. Paradoxically, ECOMOG consisted predominantly of soldiers from Nigeria ruled by the dictator Sani Abacha. However, Tejan Kabbah’s reinstatement of the government did not prompt the rapid re-establishment of peace in the country marked by widespread corruption.
In March 1998, the Kabbah government ordered the extraction of gold and diamonds that had been in foreign hands for 60 years. Excluded from the provision were those of the country’s own inhabitants who had permits for the extraction of the minerals.
At the end of the year, rebel forces advanced again, occupying over half of the capital. The indoctrination of Nigerian forces created a balance in the force relationship, which in January 1999 caused the parties to enter into a ceasefire.
The new rebel leader, Foday Sankoh, signed a peace deal with the government in July to end 9 years of civil war. Sankoh himself was appointed Director of the Commission for Strategic Minerals and Vice President, although a resolution passed at the UN in 1998 forbade him to travel without the permission of the World Organization. The rebels systematically broke the ceasefire, and at the same time Sankoh was constantly rising – according to. UN officials to sell diamonds abroad. At the same time, he blamed the ECOMOG Peace Force for “becoming a threat to the security of the Leones.”
In May 2000, the rebels resumed fighting, which led to Sankoh being jailed the same month. Prior to his arrest, he had been traveling abroad. Apparently to sell diamonds. At the same time, he had accused the peacekeeping force of being “a threat to the security of the Leones.” The UN estimated that only about half of the 45,000 rebel soldiers had delivered their weapons. In August, Sankoh was ousted by his own guerrilla regional leaders who appointed Issa Sesay as new commander. Sankoh was informed of this development by Kabbah, who along with Nigerian President Olusegún Obasanjo and Mali President Alfa Oumar Konare held meetings with the rebel leader.
Also in August, the small armed group of West Side Boys captured 7 British soldiers. The group had previously supported Koroma. In September, British soldiers carried out a campaign to free the captured soldiers and arrest the West Side Boys leader, Foday Kallay.
In January 2001, the government postponed the parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for February and March. This was done with reference to the lack of security in the country. In March, for the first time, UN peacekeeping troops were sent peacefully into the rebel-controlled areas, and in May the disarmament of the 45,000 rebel soldiers began. It was completed in January 2002.
In May 2002, the postponed elections were held after the president raised the state of emergency, which would otherwise have characterized the country for four years. On May 20, the National Election Commission declared that Kabbah had won the election by 70% of the vote. His party, the Sierra Leone People’s Party, also won the parliamentary elections, winning 83 of the 112 seats. Koroma’s party had to settle for 27 seats. Sankoh’s RUF got no seats in parliament and Sankoh who continued to be arrested had to settle for 1.7% of the vote in the presidential election.
According to Countryaah.com, the population of Sierra Leone in 1996 was 4,303,846, ranking number 116 in the world. The population growth rate was -0.070% yearly, and the population density was 59.6281 people per km2.