Sierra Leone. In August, about 500 people died in floods and landslides caused by three days of rainfall over the capital Freetown. According to some estimates, the number of fatalities may have been over 1,000. According to Countryaah.com, nearly 6,000 people were affected by the disaster, including the destruction of their house. These were often built without permission along rock walls on the outskirts of the city. President Ernest Bai Koroma announced seven days of country grief and urged the people to stand united. He also appealed to the outside world for help. To reduce the risk of an outbreak of cholera, the government carried out Sierra Leone’s first vaccination campaign against the dreaded bowel disease, which is often spread in connection with natural disasters when water and sewage pipes are missing. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for frequently used acronyms and abbreviations related to as well as country profile of Sierra Leone.
In October, the two largest parties, the only ones given a few seats in the last election, presented their candidates for the March 2018 presidential election. President Koroma is not allowed to stand because he has sat the two terms of office stipulated in the constitution. The Government Party General People’s Congress (APC) appointed Foreign Minister Samura Kamara, who is a trained economist and has previously worked for the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He will be opposed to Julius Maada Bio, representing the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and who finished second in the 2012 presidential election. A third candidate will be Samuel Sam-Sumana, who in March 2015 was fired as vice president and excluded from the APC. In September 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that President Koroma had the right to dismiss the vice president, but in November 2017 received a bribe from a court linked to the regional cooperation organization ECOWAS. According to the court, Koroma had not followed the applicable procedures and it ruled that the government must pay Sam-Sumana’s salary and be responsible for his legal costs. However, the Department of Justice in Sierra Leone did not accept the ruling from the court because it was not considered that the court had a mandate to judge the case.
In December, the so-called Peace Diamond, found by Pastor Emmanuel Momoh, was sold for $ 6.5 million at an auction in New York. The diamond is as large as an egg – 709 carats – and is the largest found in Sierra Leone. According to Momoh, the profit would go to local development projects.
Sierra Leone Geopolitics
Sierra Leone is a West African country whose recent history is marked by a long and bloody civil war, which broke out in March 1991 and ended in January 2002. In addition to representing the darkest period in Sierra Leonean history since independence, achieved by United Kingdom in 1961, the conflict destabilized the entire regional geopolitical chessboard. The civil war had broken out with the conquest of two cities in the south-east, on the border with Liberia, by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), in whose ranks militated guerrillas from Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso and Liberia. The following year, in April 1992, a coup military led by young officers of the Sierra Leonean army overthrew the government of Joseph Saidu Momoh and established the supreme council of state. Parties were banned and the Constitution suspended. Valentine Strasser, leader of the group of young soldiers, became the youngest president in the world at the age of 25. The eastern region of Sierra Leone was instead occupied by the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (Ulimo), committed to fighting against the army of Liberian President Charles Taylor, in turn an ally of Foday Sankoh, leader of the RUF.
The territories in the hands of the two rebel groups constitute the most prosperous regions of Sierra Leone, also by virtue of the presence of gold and diamond deposits. The possibility of fueling the war apparatus by the revolutionaries for more than a decade was linked precisely to the illegal sale of diamonds, a trade that contributed to the collapse of the Sierra Leonean national economy, which was already in critical condition.
In a few years, the victims of the civil conflict have reached tens of thousands and refugees have numbered around two million. In the second half of the 1990s, the international community decided to intervene. In March 1998, forces – mostly Nigerian – from the monitoring group of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecomog) occupied the capital Freetown, ousting Johnny Paul Koroma, who came to power in a military coup. They then replaced Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, who had won regular presidential elections in 1996.
In October 1999, after rebels of the RUF had captured the capital and negotiated a fictitious peace, achieving strategic positions in the new government, the United Nations (A) have settled in Sierra Leone with the mission Unamsil. The forces A, after two years of fighting, managed to start the disarmament of the rebels and to establish, in January 2002, the end of the civil war.
A sign of the new political phase was the institution of the Sierra Leonean special court to judge war crimes. The trials, which began in 2004, ended in 2009, with the exception of the Taylor case, which ended in September 2013 with the confirmation of the 50-year prison sentence for the former president, currently detained in the United Kingdom. In 2005, the troops of the Minusil mission were withdrawn in favor of the United Nations Integrated Office (Uniosil), created by the Security Council to facilitate the democratization process and operational until 2008, when it was replaced by Unipsil, which ended March 31, 2014.
The current president Ernest Bai Koroma, confirmed the elections of 15 November 2012 (the first without the supervision of ‘ A) with approximately 58.7% of the vote, has undertaken with the financial assistance of the international community, a path of reforms to improve the health and education system and to strengthen the potentially competitive but still backward economic structure of the country. On the international level, Koroma has maintained strong ties with donor countries and international institutions that support peace in Sierra Leone and has established good diplomatic relations with all neighboring states. In 2010-2011 Koroma, also as representative of Ecowas, he was at the forefront of resolving the Ivory Coast crisis to prevent the conflict from reverberating on the country.
In 2014, the Ebola epidemic hit Sierra Leone, causing, to date, more than 3950 victims among the residents. Only on 7 November 2015 the country was declared free of the virus.