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Minorities At Risk Project: Home    

Chronology for Mende in Sierra Leone

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Date(s) Item
1401 - 1600 The "Manes" (probably refugees from the break-up of the great Sudanic empires) invaded the area and integrated with local peoples, forming the country's present ethnic composition. The primary societal unit was the small chiefdom rather than the tribe.
1787 The Creoles, descendants of ex-slaves, were freed from Britain and the West Indies. Freetown was established and the majority of the Creoles settled there.
1808 Freetown became a British colony. Throughout the 19th century, Western missionary education and religion were taught among Sierra Leonean Creoles. Creoles were prominent in politics and trade in all of England's West African colonies.
1896 Sierra Leone became a British Protectorate.
1898 The Temne and Mende chiefdoms unsuccessfully resisted British power in the Hut Tax War. The colony began to decline economically. Creole merchants failed to compete with expatriate traders and confined their activities to the Freetown area. They also lost much of their influence in government.
1924 The Constitution brought tribal chiefs into the Legislative Council.
1945 - 1949 Creoles initially dominated the independence movement, while other groups became politicized after World War II.
1951 The British granted a new constitution which established the framework for independence in ten years. An interior-based political party, led by Milton Margai, won the national elections.
1960 Siaka Stevens, a Northern Limba and trade unionist, formed an opposition party, the All-People’s Congress (APC), that appealed to Northern interests. His party had been joined by the Temne, many Northern groups, the Susu, Loko, and Mandingo.
Apr 27, 1961 The country achieved independence, originally as a constitutional monarchy. Margai became Prime Minister with support of the Mende people in the south. Upon independence, the government was polarized on the issue of Mende domination. Divided ethnic loyalties and uneven economic development caused continued instability throughout the country.
1962 The APC captured the majority of Northern constituencies.
1964 Milton Margai died and was succeeded by his brother Albert Margai who, as head of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), began to replace Creoles in the party with his own people, the Mende. Creoles shifted their support to the APC. Margai promoted many well-educated Mende (who had chafed under a Creole-dominated government) to important civil service positions Brig.-Gen. David Lansana (a Mende) was appointed as the army commander.
1966 Lansana became a close confidant of Albert Margai. The Mende were disproportionately represented in the SLPP and the army. Col. John Bangura (a Temne-Loko), Lansana’s second-in-command, was distrusted because of his connections with the Temne-supported APC.
Feb 1967 Bangura and eight other officers (mainly ethnic Temne) were arrested for allegedly plotting a pro-APC coup. A new military academy was established.
Mar 1967 As the 1967 general elections approached, the antagonism of Temne and other Northerners against Mende and their allies, the Sherbro and Fula, increased. Stevens' APC narrowly won the elections which triggered three military coups.
Mar 17, 1967 The last of the three coups handed over power to Stevens and he was sworn in at the head of the APC government.
Mar 21, 1967 The Mende army commander Lansana carried out a coup against the new Northern government and arrested Stevens, with intention to restore Albert Margai to power.
Mar 23, 1967 Three majors overthrew Lansana and established a Mende-dominated military regime.
Jun 1967 A Mende-dominated government increased the proportion of Mende officers in the army from 26 percent of the African officers in mid-1964 to 52 percent by mid-1967. Thirteen of the 17 cadets who passed out of the military academy were Mende.
Apr 17, 1968 Another coup ousted the military regime and Stevens again seized power. The Mende officers were purged from the military and replaced by Northerners. Col. Bangura (who had helped restore Stevens to power) was recalled from exile. In Mende areas, violence broke out between Mende and Northern migrants.
1969 Stevens' APC regime established a repressive one-party state. The Creole elite, supporting Stevens, had retained strong influence (although they maintained a low profile), which in turn caused resentment from other groups. The Provincial Organization began as an anti-Creole, Mende association in Freetown.
1970 Temne ministers (from the Tonkolili district) left the APC and Stevens’ cabinet. A predominantly Temne party, the United Democratic Party (UDP), was formed. Stevens banned the UDP and detained its leaders. He employed Limba, Yalunka, and Koranko troops to arrest Temne army officers in order to underscore the cleavage between Temne and other Northern groups. Stevens began to bypass his commander Bangura in favor of Bangura’s deputies (a Limba and a Creole). Bangura was increasingly isolated within the cabinet as Stevens suppressed the UDP (with which Bangura had been linked) and arrested Temne
Mar 23, 1971 Bangura attempted a coup, but his Creole and Limba subordinates did not support it and restored Stevens to power. After this abortive coup, political power went to the Limba, Creoles, and Northern minorities (e.g., the Koranko). The leaders of the state, the party, and the army were all Limba. There was unrest among the Mende and Temne.
Apr 1971 Sierra Leone became a republic, with Stevens as president.
Jul 30, 1974 A group of Mende and Temne civilians and soldiers together made a foiled coup attempt.
Jun 1978 A new constitution established a one-party state, with the APC as the country’s sole legal party. The members of the opposition SLPP joined the ruling APC, but several opposition groups began to be formed outside Sierra Leone. Stevens attempted to broaden his regime by appointing a Temne vice president. He proclaimed a one-party state and invited the rest of the Mende SLPP to join the APC. Ethnic Limba still dominated the regime and the Temne emerged as the second favored group.
Sep 1981 Plots to overthrow the government were thwarted.
Jan 1982 There was a shooting incident near the President’s residence. Five army officers were forced to retire in February as a result of the incident.
1983 The commanders of the army, the paramilitary State Security Division, and the police were all Limba.
Jul 30, 1984 The Sierra Leone Democratic Party (SLDP) was formed in London. It called for the end of the one-party system in Sierra Leone.
Oct 1985 Stevens relinquished power voluntarily to Maj. Gen. Joseph Saidu Momoh. The last years of Stevens' rule were troubled by economic repression.
Feb 1986 SLDP members were allegedly involved in a plan to invade Sierra Leone with the help of dissident exiles and British mercenaries.
May 1986 Up to five candidates were allowed to contest each seat in the elections, but all candidates were required to be approved by the APC.
Dec 30, 1986 President Momoh released nine prisoners serving life sentences for plotting against the government in 1974.
Mar 23, 1987 27 junior army officers and the assistant police superintendent were arrested for a coup attempt.
Jan 26, 1988 President Momoh was re-elected.
May 29, 1988 Siaka Stevens, 83, the country's President from 1971 to 1985, died and a state funeral was held on June 12.
Oct 7, 1989 Six men were executed for their part in an abortive March 1987 coup attempt.
Apr 25, 1990 The government adopted a Newspaper Amendment Act. The licenses of five newspapers were then canceled.
May 28, 1990 Four people were killed in a demonstration in Freetown.
Aug 1990 The ruling APC decided to set up a commission to review the Constitution.
1991 - 2000 The government and the APC resisted increasing demands for a return to a multi-party state. It claimed that a multi-party state would worsen the country's economic problems and could lead to divisiveness. Protesters, mostly drawn from ethnic minorities, claimed that they were disadvantaged under the one-party rule whereby the President's own ethnic group (the Limba) were favored in government appointments.
Mar 1991 Students demonstrated and went on strike to demand a multi-party system of government.
Mar 23, 1991 Rebels loyal to the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), led by Charles Taylor, aided the RUF (Revolutionary United Front), led by Foday Sankoh, in invading Sierra leone from Liberia March. Sankoh is a Sierra Leonean former corporal who spent seven years in prison beginning in 1971 for involvement in an attempted coup. He later went to Liberia and Libya for guerrilla training.
Mar 28, 1991 President Momoh reversed his previous opposition to a multi-party democracy.
May 1991 Despite Taylor’s denials of involvement in the NPFL’s incursion, fighting escalated on the border between Sierra Leone and Liberia. Momoh requested assistance from the United Kingdom and the United States. Between 3,000 and 5,000 Sierra Leonean civilians and Liberian refugees had been killed by the NPFL. 10,000 people had fled from the border area.
Jul 1991 Resignation of the Minister of Social Services indicated divisions within the ruling APC.
Aug 1991 A multiparty system was approved in a national referendum.
Sep 14, 1991 The United Front of Political Movements (UNIFORM) was formed by six political parties: the National Action Party (NAP), the SLPP, the Democratic People’s Party (DPP), the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the National Democratic Party (NDP) and the Civic Development Education Movement (CDM).
Apr 30, 1992 The National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC), led by Capt. Valentine E. M. Strasser (a 27-year-old junior officer), seized power in a coup. The coup began as a demonstration against non-payment and poor conditions on the war front and snow-balled into a mutiny with mass popular support and middle-level military backing. Within two days, President Momoh had fled to Guinea
May 1, 1992 Strasser was appointed as chairman of the NPRC. He was later named Head of State and Minister of Defence.
May 4, 1992 The NPRC dissolved the House of Representatives and all political parties were banned. The NPRC place a high priority on the end of the war with RUF rebels.
Jul 7, 1992 All civilian Cabinet ministers were removed from the NPRC.
Jul 14, 1992 Strasser announced that the NPRC would become the Supreme Council of State (SCS) and that the Cabinet would be transformed into a Council of State Secretaries.
Aug 1992 Rebels offered to negotiate with the government but were turned down
Oct 23, 1992 Rebels hold four major districts: Pujehun, Kailahun, Kenema, and Kono. Unconfirmed reports put RUF member ship at 5000.
Dec 18, 1992 Nigerian jets have pounded rebel positions in the East over the past two weeks. Koidu, the capital of Kono district, is said to be in ruin and most of its population of 10,000 have fled.
Dec 28, 1992 Rebels attacked a hospital at Segbewema killing eight people. In the government counter offensive, 20 rebels were killed. Strasser claimed there was an attempted coup against his government. The NPRC has increasingly made tribally-motivated decisions. Mende, mostly from Kailahun, have replaced non-Mende in the government, and non-Mende police and military officers have been forced to retire or sent on indefinite leave.
1993 The rebel RUF continued to conduct a guerrilla war. But the government recaptured most of the areas controlled by the rebels since 1991. Rebel resistance continued in Pujehun.
Jan 5, 1993 Pres. Strasser confirmed the execution of 25 men accused of plotting to overthrow his government. In protest over the December executions, the United Kingdom suspended all economic aid to Sierra Leone.
Jan 15, 1993 In its first significant military success in several months, government troops recaptured the diamond town of Koidu killing at least 50 rebels. RUF had captured Koidu in November 1992. Rebels eventually retake the town and hold it until November.
Mar 30, 1993 The government army regained Pujehun (210 kms south-east of the capital), one day after it had been seized by members of RUF.
Apr 1993 Strasser promised a return to multi-party democratic civilian rule within three years.
Jul 26, 1993 Sixteen people have been killed in the past three days in fighting in the East. The RUF-Charles Taylor (NPFL) alliance has waned with the signing of a peace accord in Liberia.
Aug 1993 About 50,000 Sierra Leoneans refugees are expected to return to their homes in the next couple of weeks. The recent roll-back of RUF in the East has led to their return. Government troops captured the Southern town of Blama from the RUF. Thirty-five rebels were killed and six were captured.
Dec 1993 The government declared a unilateral cease-fire that lasted throughout the month. It allowed the RUF to gain much ground in the country.
Dec 27, 1993 RUF rebels attacked seven towns simultaneously in Kenema District. The government later recaptured three of the towns.
Jan 1994 The government declared successes against the rebel RUF even as RUF renewed its attacks in the South. About 100 civilians have been killed during the month.
Jan 25, 1994 The RUF razed villages around Bo, a southern region, killing 100 civilians.
Feb 22, 1994 The ICRC offered to mediate the conflict in Sierra Leone. A number of prosperous towns like Bunumbu and Manowa in Kenema district have been razed. Thirty-eight people were killed in and attack on the village of Bandasuma.
Mar 1 - Apr 30, 1994 During March, fighting intensified in the East and South, and during April, the RUF begins to move its operations northward. The movement has not gained large grass-roots support among the people. Its leadership, including leader Foday Sankoh, is mainly Temne, though it began its activities in the southeastern region of the country dominated by Mende.
Mar 14, 1994 A new force in the civil war has reportedly surfaced. The government reported that a group called NAFORD (National Association for the Restoration of Democracy), headed by human rights activist Allieu Kanu, began operations in the North. It has a political wing based in London and its military wing reportedly does not target civilians. Another new group was also identified as SLIP (Sierra Leoneans Search for Peace). It is based in Liberia and headed by a man named Swarray. Neither group came up in the press after this initial report of their involvement in the conflict.
Apr 11, 1994 Liberia’s ULIMO militia said its fighters had launched a new offensive against RUF rebels and had deployed some 30 miles in Sierra Leone’s territory near Kenema.
Apr 29, 1994 Military ID cards were found on rebels killed during an attack on the Kenema military post. This discovery has reinforced suspicions that many RUF rebels are former soldiers of the Sierra Leonean army.
May 11, 1994 RUF rebels attacked three towns along the Bo-Pujehun highway killing eight civilians. An attack on Bamdajuma Sow in Pujehun district left 35 civilians dead. Twenty others were killed when they drowned trying to escape the fighting. At least 142 people had been killed so far in May. Fighting has escalated since January.
Jun 21 - Sep 20, 1994 Since June, the strategic highways of Bo-Kenema in the southeast and Masingbi-Kono in the northeast have come under repeated attacks from rebels. Dozens have been killed. Three of the country’s four regions are insecure and half of the 12 districts have seen warfare. About one-fourth of the country’s residents are displaced. During July and August, about 800 ULIMO fighters, who had been fighting for the government, were disarmed and returned home after complaints by local chiefs in the South and East that they had been attacking villages.
Aug 24, 1994 At least 50 were killed when government troops backed by Nigerians fought RUF rebels in the southeast border region. Most of those killed were rebels, but some civilians also died. Nigeria has about 800 troops in Sierra Leone supporting the government.
Sep 13, 1994 RUF rebels attacked the town of Jimi Baagbor near Bo killing 40 civilians in a rocket attack. Twenty rebels and 5 soldiers were killed in battle.
Dec 1994 The government and RUF concluded a round of peace talks, but fighting continued. The RUF controlled large areas of the East and South by the end of the year. They continue to operate with little popular support. More than 6000 people have been killed since the rebellion began in March 1991.
Jan 1995 Seven nuns and about 100 civilians were abducted by rebels in the North. Rebels have captured at least 11 Europeans in a series of raids.
Jan 3, 1995 Rebels attacked a refugee camp in Gondama village near Bo forcing 85,000 displaced people to flee the camp. At least nine other locations have been attacked since Christmas.
Feb 17, 1995 Government troops reportedly captured a major rebel base 170 km East of Freetown. More than 70 rebels were reportedly killed. The OAU said it sent a peace mission to Sierra Leone to try to convince the two sides to engage in peace talks. More than 50,000 refugees have recently fled to Guinea adding to the almost 190,000 already there. Liberia hosts about 120,000 Sierra Leonean refugees.
May 4, 1995 RUF soldiers reportedly massacred 150-200 people in an attack on the diamond center of Koidu. The government reported 20-30 killed and RUF denied any involvement in the killings.
Jul 12, 1995 The government claimed a victorious offensive against RUF bases near Bo. Three hundred rebels were reportedly killed. Within the past several months, RUF has come within 40 km of Freetown.
Aug 31, 1995 Nearly 700 people have starved to death since June in the South and East. Rebels have intensified ambushes on highways since May making road transportation in much of the country impossible and creating widespread starvation.
Sep 1995 UNICEF said 30-40 people are dying daily in the Eastern towns of Daru and Segbwema which have received no aid. The government said it agreed to a request by the RUF to talks on ways to end the war. Attacks on two towns in Kono region in early September reportedly left about 100 civilians dead. Attacks on Njaiama Nimikoro and Njala also reportedly left about 150 people dead. The number of deaths could not be independently confirmed.
Sep 27, 1995 Rebels seized four towns near Bo (Kpetima, Yemgema, Serabu, Walihun) and at least 100-150 civilians were killed. If confirmed, it is the first rebel gain since May when the government hired South African mercenaries to train its troops.
Sep 28, 1995 Twenty-thousand displaced persons demonstrated in Bo against their lack of food. It was the third such protest since June. Four protests have taken place in Kenema. World Food Program officials said more than 400 people have starved to death in Bo and the figure is much higher in Kenema.
Oct 1 - Dec 31, 1995 The government recaptured towns around Bo halting a rebel advance. There was fierce fighting in the East during November in the Kailahun region and around Bo and Moyamba districts during December.
Jan 16, 1996 Valentine Strasser was ousted in a coup led by his deputy Julius Maada Bio. Bio proceeded to push ahead with elections despite opposition from rebels and doubts about the army’s willingness to relinquish power. He also initiated peace talks with RUF. Strasser was allowed to leave the country and flew to Conakry. RUF is less hostile to Bio than Strasser and by February, RUF held no major towns. However, frequent ambushes made much of Sierra Leone inaccessible and they have devastated the mining-based economy. Death totals from the conflict are said to have reached 10,000.
Feb 1996 Fighting continued around Bo and other voting Centers before elections, scheduled for March, began. At least a dozen people were killed.
Mar 15, 1996 Elections were concluded in Sierra Leone. In the second round of voting, the People’s Party (SLPP) of Ahmed Tejan Kabbah won with 59.5% of the vote while John Karefa-Smart of the United National People’s Party received 40.5% of the vote. The military handed over power on 29 March 1996.
Apr 15, 1996 Joint committees met in Abidjan to try to work out details of ending the civil conflict.
Jun 1996 Thousands are fleeing their homes in Sierra Leone because of terrorist attacks. According to international relief workers, attackers have been torturing and maiming their victims in the Bo area.
Jul 1996 Thousands of refugees began returning to Sierra Leone from Liberia. About one-half of Sierra Leone’s four million people have been displaced and 370,000 of those have fled to neighboring countries.
Aug 1996 Rebel attacks in the North have led to a mass departure from the Koya region of Port Loko district. Rebels killed 31 villagers and seven soldiers in the eastern village of Foindu.
Oct 1996 Indigenous militias, Kamajors, reportedly freed 500 captives of RUF. The captives were reportedly starving and had been used as slave labor by the RUF. An attack in a small northern town left 36 people dead.
Nov 6, 1996 At least 5000 refugees have returned to Kahahun and Kambia districts in the East and North after nearly three years in Guinea. In the last two weeks, more than 10,000 displaced persons have returned to their homes.
Dec 2, 1996 President Kabbah announced that a peace deal had been signed with the leader of RUF, Foday Sankoh, on 30 November. Over the past weeks there had been a number of defections from RUF and more than 1000 former rebels had surrendered to the government.
Dec 11, 1996 The murder of more than 150 civilians in the northern Tonkolili district was blamed by the government on RUF. RUF denied involvement. It has become increasingly difficult to assess blame for attacks on civilians in Sierra Leone’s civil war because RUF has appeared leaderless at times and government soldiers have deserted to RUF or simply engage in vigilante activities as individuals. Civilians have coined the term sobels, soldier-rebels, to describe these men.
Feb 10, 1997 Kamajor leaders reportedly uncovered a rebel base in Moyamba district. More than 2000 rebels were reportedly surrounded by the Kamajors. Over 1000 Kamajors have been trained in Moyamba district in the past month.
Feb 21, 1997 RUF rebels, who are mostly Temne, vowed to continue fighting against what they described as the hegemony of the Mende. President Kabbah is half-Mende while about half is cabinet is Mende. RUF leader Foday Sankoh is Temne, as are most of his lieutenants. There are mixed reports as to the ethnicity of the majority of RUF troops: an April 1994 report from the Inter Press Service stated that the majority of RUF troops are from the south while a February 1997 report from the same news service stated that most RUF rebels are Temne. The leadership of the opposition United National People’s Party (UNPP) are also mainly Temne. Fighting between the RUF and Kamajors has been concentrated in the southeast
Mar 6, 1997 Military sources said more than 12 soldiers and more than 20 civilians were killed in attacks and ambushes over the past two weeks. Fighting between government troops and Kamajors was also said to have resulted in 14 deaths near Magburaka in the North near Makeni
Mar 15, 1997 A senior member of RUF said the organization had sacked Foday Sankoh for blocking the implementation of the peace agreement signed in November. Sankoh was said to be under house arrest in Nigeria. Sankoh loyalists, however have continued to wage war and the RUF faction that deposed him appears to have very little support within the organization.
Apr 28, 1997 Relations between the government and Kamajors have deteriorated since the signing of the peace agreement in November. There were clashes reported in Moyamba, Bo and Tonkolili districts. The Kamajors got involved in the war against RUF in 1994 when the morale of government troops appeared to be sinking because of RUF advances. The Kamajors scored victories and gained local support. They are organized around traditional hunting societies. The army became increasingly jealous of the Kamajors’ success and fighting between the groups occurred in 1996. The worst incident involved the government killing over 100 Kamajors in separate incidents in the East and South.
May 12, 1997 RUF carried out attacks on the districts of Bombali and Port Loko in the north. At least 13 were killed and dozens injured. Since the peace accord was signed, skirmishes between RUF rebels loyal to Sankoh and Kamajors have occurred. RUF forces loyal to Sankoh were also reportedly terrorizing villages in Moyamba in the south. The peace process has appeared to have failed: attacks have resumed, the United Nations has not dispatched a 700-member team that is to oversee the demobilization of rebels, few RUF members have disarmed, and the RUF has failed to send a representative to the Joint Monitoring Group that was to oversee the peace process.
May 14, 1997 RUF rebels reportedly seized Kamakwie, 90 miles from Freetown. The RUF has attacked more than 10 northern villages and towns in the last week. Security for refugees trying to return from Liberia could not be assured because of the renewed fighting.
May 25, 1997 A coup was carried out by members of the armed forces. The Armed Forces Revolutionary Council now rules Sierra Leone and it is led by Johnny Koroma who was freed from jail by junior officers who led the coup. It is the third coup in five years in the country. Civilian and professional groups and trade unions condemned the coup and shops and offices were closed in protest. Coup leaders announced they would disband the Kamajors. Fighting between the military and Kamajors has claimed hundreds of lives since January.
May 28, 1997 From Nigeria, Sankoh reportedly told his forces to join the coup leaders in Sierra Leone. Hundreds of RUF rebels arrived in Freetown. After the coup, the RUF changed its name to the People’s Army. Coup leader Johnny Koroma said the government of Tejan Kabbah had been ousted because of its failure to make peace, its promotion of ethnic politics and the neglect of the military in favor of Kamajors. Koroma is Temne while the majority of the previous government was Mende. Though the military and Kamajors had been allied against the RUF under Kabbah’s rule, their relationship had always been tense. The RUF and new military government have joined forces against the Kamajors who have vowed to fight to restore Kabbah to power.
Jun 2, 1997 Freetown came under naval bombardment in an attempt by the Nigerian armed forces to put down the coup. Nigerian forces were reinforced by fresh troops sent from Guinea and Ghana. RUF and the coup leaders retaliated by firing on Nigerian troops guarding a seaside hotel. The Nigerian effort failed and Nigeria planned to send about 2000 more troops as reinforcements. Troops under the ECOMOG flag continue to enter Sierra Leone. At least 150 people have been killed in the fighting in Freetown. Thousands of residents have fled the capital. Thousands of civilians are said to be joining the ranks of the Kamajors which are predominantly Mende.
Jun 11, 1997 Thousands of demonstrators were reported to have marched for the reinstatement of Pres Ahmed Kabbah in Pujehun, Moyamba and Mattru Jong.
Jun 17, 1997 Major Johnny Koroma was sworn in as head of state. He stated his commitment to restoring democracy and pledged his government would be broad-based, incorporating all ethnic groups. Koroma said he would extend an invitation to the Kamajors to join his government, just as he had to the RUF.
Jun 18, 1997 Eight SLPP members were arrested for allegedly planning a coup by attempting to incite the RUF to overthrow the AFRC and restore Tejan Kabbah to power.
Jun 19, 1997 At least 52 people have been killed in Kenema in the east in clashes between junta forces and Kamajors. The military seized a large arms cache in Kenema, which is the home of Kamajor leader Chief Brima Bangura. The junta estimated the Kamajors’s strength at 37,000 while the army has 15,000 troops.
Jun 24, 1997 Kamajors are reportedly recruiting hundreds of fighters, mostly former soldiers of the United Liberation Movements, from Liberia. Some 35 people have been killed in the past three days in the southeast. Unrest involving Kamajors has been reported in 5 of 12 districts in the south and east. They number over 17,000 and reportedly control much of the south and east. Militias made up of Temne in the north, counterparts to the Kamajors who are mainly Mende, are called Kapras. The Kapras accuse the Kamajors of killing civilians and soldiers who are Temne.
Jul 6, 1997 Sierra Leonean human rights groups reported that armed robberies, summary executions and other human rights abuses have increased since the military coup in May. There have been more than a dozen summary executions by the military, looters are shot on sight, arbitrary arrests of Kabbah supporters occur, and there has been a clamp down on the media.
Jul 9, 1997 The army and RUF troops traded heavy artillery fire with Nigerian troops around the international airport. Thousands of villagers fled to Port Loko town. The RUF ruled out the reinstatement of outed President Tejan Kabbah.
Jul 15, 1997 A junta cabinet was sworn in. Foday Sankoh, leader of the RUF, was sworn in as deputy head of state, though he is still detained in Nigeria. Nigerian troops blocked off the main highway into Freetown following a weekend of fighting. Sixty people, mostly civilians, were killed in the clashes. There has also been recent fighting between the military and RUF and Kamajors on the Liberian battles. At least 18 Kamajors and 10 soldiers have been killed.
Jul 31, 1997 Junta leaders have met with ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) leaders in Cote d’Ivoire. One of the conditions of the junta for restoring democratic rule is the release of Foday Sankoh from Nigeria. The leaders said they would not return power to Kabbah and that new polls could not be run in the country presently because of the intense political hostilities among the various ethnic groups in the country.
Aug 2, 1997 Coup leader Koroma promised democratic elections in 2001. He called for the removal of Nigerian and ECOMOG troops. The constitution remained suspended and political parties remained banned.
Aug 7, 1997 The United Nations Security Council threatened to impose sanctions on Sierra Leone unless coup leaders took measures to restore the democratically-elected government of Tejan Kabbah. The military junta announced it was suspending the country's court system and replacing it with People's Revolutionary Courts. The AFRC said it was putting the new system into place because it had received no cooperation from lawyers and judges.
Aug 25, 1997 Over the past few weeks, there has been a deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Sierra Leone due to fierce fighting, widespread power shortages and an ECOWAS-imposed embargo that has resulted in escalating food prices and lack of supplies. Security for humanitarian organizations remains precarious. Government workers and civil servants continued to strike for non-payment of salaries and civil unrest is increasing.
Aug 29, 1997 At an ECOWAS summit on Sierra Leone, most members stated their opposition to using force to restore the government of Tejan Kabbah. Nigeria said it would proceed with using force to dislodge the junta once it received U.N. support. Negotiations between the junta and ECOWAS broke off after Koroma said his government would stay in power for four years. An embargo that had been effectively in place since the beginning of the coup was formally imposed by ECOWAS August 30th.
Sep 2, 1997 Kamajors have occupied the highway between Bo and the northern town of Makene in order to capture junta and RUF personnel and vehicles. In recent reports of fighting between Kamajors and the military, the military appears to be gaining the upper hand.
Sep 5, 1997 Eleven ECOMOG peacekeepers were killed and three others seriously wounded by land mines laid near the Freetown airport by the military junta.
Sep 17, 1997 A new group, the Independent National Mediation Committee, formed to negotiate a resolution to the Sierra Leonean crisis. It said it was sending a delegation to President Kabbah in Guinea to arrange a meeting between he and coup leader Koroma.
Sep 24, 1997 President Kabbah rejected an offer by the military junta to hold talks. Coup leader Koroma wanted to include RUF leader Foday Sankoh in the peace talks.
Sep 26, 1997 Ten Kamajors and four soldiers were killed in recent fighting. The heavily armed Kamajors have attacked military positions on four fronts.
Oct 31, 1997 Mende villagers in the Serva River Valley claim that the AFRC junta is trying to starve them into submission. AFRC check points bar all food and medicine shipped to Mende territory and the Mende claim the AFRC is trying to systematically eliminate them. The RUF is known for attacking Mende towns and executing civilians. The AFRC has also destroyed Mende rice crops leaving villagers surviving on wild yams. During the spring 1997, government forces loyal to President Kabbah also began looting Mende villages in frustration at their lack of success against the RUF. Kamajor militias were forced to fight both RUF and government troops, especially after the May 1997 coup.
Feb 11, 1998 Nigerian troops advanced steadily on Freetown from both the east and the west. Journalists reported that Koroma’s soldiers and RUF soldiers were arresting people caught trying to flee Freetown. Members of the Mende ethnic groups were also reportedly targets of attacks by soldiers loyal to Koroma.
Mar 10, 1998 After the victory of Nigerian/ECOMOG forces over the AFRC junta in February, President Tejan Kabbah returned to office after about 10 months in exile. Fighting continues in the north and east of the country, but the AFRC and their RUF allies are in retreat, and Freetown remains relatively peaceful. Fighting is fiercest around Bo and Kenema, and traditional militias (Kamajors, Kapras, Tamaboros and Dunsos) have played a major role in clearing Sierra Leone of forces loyal to Koroma.
Apr 16, 1998 Remnants of the AFRC are waging a war of terror against villagers in the eastern district of Kono. Over 100 homes, offices and shops have been burnt in Koidu town and some 2000 civilians are being held hostage as human shields in readiness for an expected offensive by ECOMOG. The AFRC took over the district in March, while ECOMOG has liberated 8 of the 12 districts in Sierra Leone.
Jun 24, 1998 Currently, there are 6000 Nigerian soldiers in Sierra Leone. More are being moved into the country in anticipation of the relocation o ECOMOG headquarters from Monrovia, Liberia to Freetown.
Jul 25, 1998 RUF leader Foday Sankoh was transferred from house arrest in Nigeria to detention in Freetown. He appeared along side Minister of Information Dr. Julius Spencer on television to urge his followers to stop terrorizing civilians and to lay down their weapons. Authorities say he is likely to face trial for treason and crimes against humanity. Rebels are reportedly exchanging diamonds for Liberian arms and rice. Liberian mercenaries, former fighters of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia, are fighting alongside the rebels and providing them with arms.
Jul 29, 1998 Pro-Kabbah Kamajors have admitted to recruiting thousands of children to help fight RUF/AFRC remnants. In Kailahun district alone, there are 3000 child soldiers. Kamajor commander Patrick Zangalaywah said children follow the laws governing the conduct of the militia, abstinence from sex and drugs and no looting, better than adults. Commander Monya Farmah said he would rather do away with adult Kamajors. However, Kamajor Movement National Coordinator Chief Sam Hinga Norman has given his word to U.N. Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict Olara Otunna that he would demobilize children and refrain from recruiting new child soldiers. The RUF/AFRC have also been abducting and conscripting dozens of children in the northeast provinces. A Human Rights Watch report issued today condemned the war of terror against civilians in Sierra Leone. Members of Johnny Koroma’s AFRC and RUF have been committing gross violations of human rights, including killing, raping, abduction, and maiming of civilians, since they were ousted from power in February. The report said that forces fighting for President Kabbah had also committed human rights abuses and violated humanitarian international law. About 250,000 Sierra Leoneans have fled to refugee camps in Guinea and Liberia.
Aug 2, 1998 ECOMOG commander Major General Timothy Shelpidi has stated his forces will crush rebel activities as soon as international support arrives. ECOMOG is in need of more logistical support, troops, and an end to illegal resupplies to the rebels. RUF rebels continue to operate in the north and east.
Aug 8, 1998 Since the extradition of RUF leader Foday Sankoh in February, there has been frequent movement of people in and out of Sierra Leone. The government has introduced new travel regulations requiring those wishing to leave the country to obtain a police permit. An amnesty extended to RUF/AFRC rebels has expired. The government warned there would be no extension of the amnesty, yet few soldiers have willingly surrendered.
Aug 12, 1998 The U.N. Secretary General issued a progress report on the U.N. Observer Mission in Sierra Leone. It stated that since the end of June, the military and security situation in Sierra Leone has improved as reports of atrocities committed by AFRC and RUF rebels has declined. ECOMOG has maintained its pressure on Kailahun district, the remaining stronghold of the rebels, yet the situation in the north-east remains volatile. Another finding is that resentment at the atrocities inflicted by the AFRC and RUF is so widespread as to pose a threat to the physical safety of anyone associated with the Koroma government. A number of revenge killings have been reported around Freetown since February. Since February, there have been systematic reports of human rights abuses against civilians by the RUF/AFRC. Incidents of mutilation have decreased since the end of June, but it is thought several thousand people have been attacked and the same number killed. Rebel forces are also thought to hold several thousand civilians captives who are used as porters, human shields, and sex slaves. The humanitarian situation in Sierra Leone continues to give cause for concern, especially since only 5% of the requested $20.5 million has been received. Global malnutrition is estimated at 39%. At least 166,000 people have been internally displaced since February, and this figure represents only a fraction of the total number of internally displaced. The UNHCR estimates that since February more then 250,000 have sought refuge in neighboring countries.
May 1, 2004 The first local government elections in 32 years were held in 311 wards nationwide. (US Department of State. 2008. "Background Note: Sierra Leone." Bureau of African Affairs.)
Sep 3 - 4, 2005 At the SLPP's national convention in Makeni, Vice-President Solomon Berewa was selected as the party's leader and its 2007 presidential candidate. (The Republic of Sierra Leone - State House Online. 09/06/2005. "Vice President Berewa Leads SLPP.")


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Information current as of July 16, 2010