A Long Way Gone

A Long Way Gone Sierra Leone Civil War

The Sierra Leone civil war began in 1991 with the attacks of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), led by former army corporal Foday Sankoh, on government military and civilian targets. While allegedly begun as a response to the corrupt government of President Joseph Saidu Momoh, the RUF quickly turned to acts of terror and violence with little regard to its ostensible political agenda. The RUF captured towns on the Liberian border, killing and torturing numerous citizens. The President is ousted in 1992, setting up a cycle of military coups for the next five years. In 1996, after the first multi-party election in nearly thirty years, Ahmad Tejan Kabbah is elected President. He signs a peace accord with the RUF. Kabbah is ousted by yet another military coup, led by Johnny Paul Koroma and the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) - a force consisting of both army and RUF soldiers who previously fought against one another.

Atrocities were committed on both sides of the conflict, which resulted in over 50,000 killed and one million people displaced. Despite the level of violence, national attention was not drawn to Sierra Leone until 1999, when the United Nations intervened to establish the Lome Peace Accord. This treaty made the RUF commander vice-president of the country with control over Sierra Leone’s valuable diamond mines.

Despite the accord, RUF forces continued their attacks and seemingly random acts of violence against government and civilian targets. The UN sought disarmament, but response on both sides was slow. Eventually, Great Britain intervened, sending in troops to capture RUF forces and restore full power to then-president Kabbah. In 2000, RUF leader Sankoh was captured. Over the next year, UN forces complete disarmament and the war is declared over in 2002. Newly re-elected President Kabbah declared the conflict ended in 2002.

Sierra Leone Civil War Timeline (BBC News): http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-14094419