The Military in Sierra Leone Politics
The appearance of the “khaki boys” on the political stage in Sierra Leone came about as a sequel to what had started in Nigeria (11 coups by the 70s and 19 towards the end of the 80s) followed by those in Ghana, The Gambia and other African States.
Although the Military were able to hold on to power in Nigeria, Ghana and, lately, The Gambia, only the NPRC managed to survive for about four years, due largely to the fact that the populace had grown fed up with the APC style of governance at the time, under Dr. Siaka P. Stevens and president Joseph Saidu Momoh, making it easy for them (NPRC) to enjoy entrance legitimacy, like did Momoh in 1996.
The post independence leadership ineffectiveness and infelicity, marked by massive corruption and abuse of office, in most cases, became the invitation card for the military to enter into politics, though politics is not meant for the soldier.
The drama of military interregnum opened with Brigadier David Lansana, in 1967, followed by that of Juxon Smith and others, with their National Reformation Council of 23rd March, 1967; then the Anti-corruption Revolutionary Movement (ACRM), “Sergeants Revolution” of 17th April, 1968; led by warrant officer Patrick Conteh, who returned the country to civilian rule, making Siaka Stevens return from Guinea to be sworn in as prime minister, with Sir Bajan Tejan-sie as Governor General.
The attempt by Brigadier Bangura, the man who pioneered the return of Siaka Stevens from exile, to overthrow Siaka Stevens, opened the bloody chapter of bloodletting which helped to keep Stevens in power for over 23 years. No attempt was ever made again by the military until the era of Momoh, the war years, with the appearance of the NPRC and then the AFRC that briefly threatened the regime of President Tejan Kabba for over nine (9) months, sending the whole country into economic hibernation as a result of the sanction imposed on them by the international community. Their leader, Major Johnny Paul Koroma, remains at-large but wanted by the special court of Sierra Leone for war crimes and human rights abuse, if seen.
The military might of the British, one would be safe to state, forced the RUF to come to the negotiating table, which led to the end of the war in Sierra Leone and put in place security measures that guarantee the absence of the military into the politics of Sierra Leone, the highlight of which aid package was the retraining of the Sierra Leonean soldiers and ensuring a 100% literate force for the country.
Today, the men in “khaki” now yearn for international peace keeping missions, because all of them can read and write, and could benefit from any international training that could make them rise in the army, contrary to what obtained in the past. Thanks to the British, for this.
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