Address by Major Johnny Paul Koroma
Head of State and Chairman of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council
Freetown - 1 June 1997

My fellow countrymen, friendly nations and members of the international community. The big question at this moment on the lips of everybody inside and outside the country is what prompted us to oust former President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah and his government from power.

Before dwelling on the main above-mentioned theme of my address, I want first and foremost on behalf of my colleagues avail myself o this opportunity to solemnly extend our sincere and heartfelt sympathy and expression of regret for the unfortunate incidents that occurred during the takeover operation in which some of our brothers and sisters, as well as foreign nationals, lost their lives and property.

In this regard, the AFRC, as you have been informed through the media, has taken appropriate measures to prevent the recurrence of such unfortunate incidents. My address this evening is not only directed to fellow Sierra Leoneans. It is also meant to enlighten concerned non-nationals and the international community about the welfare of our beloved country, on the main motive of our action.

I have already emphasized in my last two addresses that our action was not motivated by selfish [as heard] and greed for power. The main objective of the AFRC to seize power is to restore lasting peace and political stability in this country, which has been ravaged and continues to be shattered by a senseless war.

On this vital issue of restoring peace and political stability in our country, I would like on behalf of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council and the entire nation to pay a special and fitting tribute to the Ivorian head of state, His Excellency President Henri Konan Bedie, with special mention to his Foreign Minister Amara Essy, the government and people of La Cote d'Ivorie for the very important role they played in getting Corporal Foday Saybana Sankoh, the charismatic leader of the Revolutionary United Front of Sierra Leone around the negotiating table, that resulted to the signing of the Abuja peace accord last November. But for the relentless efforts of the authorities of this great African country, in the true state of African solidarity, we will not even have been thinking about...[pauses] talking about inviting the RUF leader to command his fighters to (?cease) hostilities and to join the revolution with the sole objective of bringing lasting peace to our beloved country.

The AFRC would also like to seize this opportunity to thank friendly sister countries in the subregion, namely the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Republic of Guinea, and Ghana for their effective and invaluable role in averting irreparable destruction of our fatherland at the height of the rebel war. The AFRC would also like to behalf of the entire nation to thank the international community and NGO's [words indistinct] to the United Nations Organization, the Commonwealth, the OAU, the International Alliance, the International Community of the World Force for the very important roles they played toward the success of the Abidjan peace process.

Fellow countrymen, friendly nations, members of the international community, I would now like to dwell on the main theme of my address this evening. The main reason that prompted us to take the [word indistinct] and timely decision to overthrow the former regime and to extend an invitation to RUF Cpl. Foday Sankoh and the RUF to operate with us.

It is true the wind of democracy has blown and continues to blow around the world. Patriotic and national Sierra Leoneans, old and young, put in everything, sometimes at the expense of their lives, during the transition process to democratic rule with the objective of being in tune with progressive nations around the globe and restoring lasting peace and political stability in Sierra Leone. After five years of military governance, our country was returned to democratic rule with great pains, but due to lack of political ingenuity and sincere commitment on the part of former President Tejan Kabbah and some of his lieutenants, the hard-won democracy was being gradually jeopardized by the flagrant antidemocratic and unpatriotic practices of the lat regime. The unanimous vote in favor of the new president by SLPP parliamentarians and the appointment of ruling party stalwarts to most of the key positions of the state's administrative machinery is a palpable truth of such tendencies.

In an exclusive interview granted to the West African magazine of March this year in Washington, OAU Secretary General Dr. Ahmed Salim Ahmed (sic.) rightly opined, and quote, "Progressive African leadership must now operate, above all, on the clear knowledge that the question of peace, security, and political stability of their respective continent is of primordial importance. Without peace, security, and political stability, it is not possible that any country will achieve the type of democratic and economic growth, the type of social development that we aspire to," quote. [as