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Sierra Leone in the Year 1996

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" Not again"(Beah 202). Ishmael Beah and his friend Mohamed look at one another and say this just six months following Ishmael's return to Freeport, Sierra Leone, after attending a brief life-changing convention in New York City. Fighting has broken out on May 25, 1997 at the State House and House of Parliament, just 14 months after the first multi-party presidential election since 1967 (Lizza 23). There was hope that life would improve under the ruling government of Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, newly elected in March 1996, which had brought the beginnings of peace to the country...but would it?

Because of growing international pressure from groups such as the United States and women's groups, the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC), under Maada Bio, who replaced the ousted Valentine Strasser who had established the NPRC with a group of military officers, agreed to hand power over to a civilian government through presidential and parliamentary elections. These elections were scheduled to begin in March 1996 (Beah 223). Knowing that they needed to stop the election, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) did all they could to stop people from voting. They began chopping off the hands of people who were expected to vote, but in the end almost two-thirds of the voting public cast their ballots. When the results of the election came in, the new president turned out to be twenty-year United Nation diplomat, Ahmad Tejan Kabbah (Lizza 23).

Two months after Kabbah was elected, the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) began to discuss a peace agreement in the town of Yamoussoukro. The two groups later signed the peace agreement, the Abidjan Peace Accord in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire on November 30, 1996. Although this agreement seemed like it could only better the situation in Sierra Leone, the accord quickly fell apart because the RUF could not agree on certain terms of the agreement, such as disarmament and the creation of a monitoring force (Sierra Leone Civil War 3). So on May 25, 1997, the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), under the direction of Major Johnny Paul Koroma, launched a coup and overthrew President Kabbah (U.S. Department of State 3).

Despite the return to civilian government rule in Sierra Leone, peace did not appear to be imminent in this region. The rebels continued to take over raping, mutilating, and killing many civilians in their pursuit of power and control of the diamond mines. It appears that much more international involvement will be needed to help the country of Sierra Leone to recover politically, economically, and emotionally. Therefore, at this point in time, the new government did not improve the life of people in Sierra Leone, which can be mostly blamed on the Coup launched by Major Johnny



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