Sierra Leone History

Sierra Leone History

The political-administrative organization of Sierra Leone encountered some hostility in the internal regions placed under the English protectorate in 1896: a bloody revolt of the Mandingo in 1898 against the tax on housing (Its borders expanded in the following decades and in 1844 it had with William Fergusson the first governor of African origin. Various agreements defined between 1882 and 1911 the borders with the surrounding French colonial territories and with the Republic of Liberia. The political-administrative organization of Sierra Leone encountered some hostility in the internal regions placed under the English protectorate in 1896: a bloody revolt of the Mandingo in 1898 against the tax on housing (Hut tax) was severely repressed. In the Freetown peninsula (administered as a crown colony) the Creole community, made up of immigrant freedmen, formed the most advanced class.

The governor, initially assisted by an Advisory Council, was supported from 1863 by a Legislative Council and an Executive Council. With 1930 the first political movements arose among the Creole community, while only later did the Protectorate express authoritative leaders such as MA Margai. The 1951 Constitution marked a significant step towards internal autonomy and MA Margai’s Sierra Leone People’s Party became the dominant party. Having achieved internal autonomy in 1958, Sierra Leone was able, after the Constitutional Conference in London in 1960, to gain independence on 27 April 1961 as a monarchy linked to the British crown and as a member of the Commonwealth. In March 1967 the dispute between the two major parties (Siaka Stevens’ All People’s Congress and the Sierra Leone People’s Party of Albert Margai, brother of the late leader) resulted in a military coup. In April 1968 a different military faction seized power favoring the appointment of S. Stevens as prime minister. On April 19, 1971, Sierra Leone opted for the republican form of government, without prejudice to its permanence in the Commonwealth. Siaka Stevens was also elected head of state. With the support of the military, he gave the country a socialist-inspired regime, being reconfirmed in office by Parliament in 1976 and by the electoral consultation of the following year. In November 1985 he withdrew from political life, choosing as his successor Joseph Momoh, confirmed as president with the elections of May 1986. A first coup d’├ętat foiled in March of the new year, he promoted a cautious liberalization which led to the approval of a new Constitution (1991); in the context of a sharp deterioration in the internal situation, on April 29, 1992 the head of state was ousted by a military coup.

According to remzfamily, power was then assumed by a Provisional National Council (later transformed into the Supreme Council of State) chaired by General Valentin Strasser. In this way, a phase full of uncertainties opened with the coup attempt by the followers of J. Momoh (December 1992) and the onset of an aggressive guerrilla war, while Strasser carried out continuous alterations of the military leaders to consolidate his power. At the end of 1995 Strasser was deposed in a coup by his deputy, General Julius Maada Bio, who assumed the presidency of the provisional military government by declaring his intention to hold new elections: in fact in February 1996 the new head of state was elected, Ahmad Tejan Kabbah who, having taken office as president, started negotiations with the guerrilla leaders. In May 1997, yet another coup d’├ętat again plunged Sierra Leone into chaos and not even the mediation of neighboring countries was able to give an outlet to the crisis. Kabbah, who fled abroad, returned to power in March 1998, despite the guerrillas of the coup leaders barricaded in the mountains to the north of the country, aided by the Nigerian peacekeepers. He, trying to find a solution to the conflict with the guerrillas, proposed, the following year, to the rebels of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) peace negotiations, without obtaining any positive results: thus continued the civil war between the government troops and the RUF rebels, firmly established in the northern and eastern diamond districts of the country. In November 2000, new British units (750 effective) joined the 17,500 UN peacekeepers and the Security Council extended the embargo to block the trafficking of diamonds, from which the RUF’s sources of funding derived. A positive sign came with the RUF’s declaration of wanting to abandon arms to continue the fight with political instruments: in fact, the rebels began not to hinder the deployment of blue helmets on their territories. The civil war was quelled, after ten years, in 2001: the last contingent of the UN mission left the country in December 2005. In May 2002 Kabbah was re-elected president. Presidential and parliamentary elections were held in 2007: Ernest Koroma became president and was also reconfirmed in the 2012 elections.

Sierra Leone History

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