Vigilante groups have been successful in providing local security. But subcontracting security functions to vigilante groups for counter-insurgency purposes is a dangerous option for fragile African states. African leaders should set clear objectives and mandates when enlisting vigilantes and invest in disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration programs.
Armed men attacked main military barracks and prison in capital Freetown; govt denounced coup attempt.
Unidentified gunmen 26 Nov launched assault on main military barracks in capital Freetown, seemingly attempting to access key armoury. During ensuing battle with security forces, assailants attacked detention centres, including Freetown Central Prison, from which 1,890 inmates were freed or abducted. Govt same day imposed nationwide curfew, said security forces repelled attack by “renegade soldiers”, while President Bio that evening announced most leaders of attack had been detained. As fragile calm returned to Freetown, govt 27 Nov said attack had left 20 people dead, including a dozen soldiers, and most inmates remained missing. Delegation of West African regional bloc ECOWAS same day arrived in country, expressed solidarity with govt and readiness to “deploy elements” upon request. Information Minister Chernoh Bah 28 Nov described incident as “attempted coup” and announced 13 military officers had been arrested. As night-time curfew remained in place, police same day published list of 34 people wanted in connection with incident, including current and former security forces members.
As part of Crisis Group’s research into civilian vigilante groups in counter-insurgencies in Africa, Senior Research Analyst Ned Dalby went to Sierra Leone to investigate the wartime Civil Defence Forces and their core fighters, the Kamajors. For an in-depth analysis of vigilantism in the Lake Chad basin, see Watchmen of Lake Chad: Vigilante Groups Fighting Boko Haram.
The landmark guilty verdict today against former Liberian President Charles Ghankay Taylor is a warning to those most responsible for atrocity crimes that they can be held accountable.
Sierra Leone has made much progress since the civil war ended in 2002, but a number of social and economic time bombs must still be defused if an enduring peace is to be built. The 2007 elections, in which Ernest Bai Koroma won the presidency and his All People’s Congress (APC) wrested the parliament from the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), restored legitimacy to the electoral process.
Sierra Leone holds presidential and legislative elections in August 2007. President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah, who won a landslide victory in 2002 at the end of the civil war, split the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) by anointing a successor, Vice-President Solomon Berewa.
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