The Sierra Leone Web


Your Excellency,

I come to you again in the name of peace, compromise and reconciliation following the true African tradition. I present to Your Excellency the case of a nation - the pending tragedy of a beleaguered country, the problem of Sierra Leone. The issues at stake here should not be seen merely as the ambition of a Major Johnny Paul Koroma or as the desperation of a Mr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. The issues here are the plight of a war-weary people who are being drawn deeper into a calamity for which posterity will have no mercy and will accept no excuses. The fate of the people of Sierra Leone is in your hands.

Your Excellency, if you have not taken the decision to treat the people of my country as a mere statistic, if the nation of Sierra Leone is not about to be made the African guinea-pig, in the experimentation with poorly understood concepts of democracy, if a small country like mine is not to be left to be bullied by a larger country with hidden economic and other agendas, then I crave your indulgence to listen for once to insights to our peculiar situation that apparently have not made the correct impact on international consciousness.

I here bring to your attention points that I would implore you to seriously ponder and deliberate upon before taking any definite position on the Sierra Leone problem. I ask Your Excellency to bear in focus that the most serious issues in contention have been:

  1. the reinstatement of Mr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah and
  2. the release of Corporal Foday Sankoh, the leader of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) now the People's Army.

Please also note that we of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) are evidently being tried by our accusers, in a court presided over by our accusers, with a jury of our accusers and witnesses comprising exclusively of our accusers. Your Excellency, we have not even been allowed the decency of a proper representation. Permit me, therefore, to present the Sierra Leone crisis from the point of view of the true victims of a corrupt, inept and tribalistic regime.

1. There is abundant evidence to show that Mr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah is a thoroughly dishonest, unscrupulous and wicked man. In 1967, the Beoku-Betts Commission of Inquiry concluded that Tejan Kabbah lacks integrity and could easily lapse into corrupt practices. That Commission therefore recommended that such a man is unqualified to hold any high office for which good character and integrity are prerequisites. The Justice Curry United Nations Audit Report of 1997, thirty years later, has also implicated Mr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah in financial malfeasance. A 630-Carat diamond belonging to the State which was in his possession disappeared with Tejan Kabbah after he left this country. The people of Sierra Leone demand their diamond back. Following a skirmish between our forces and Nigerian troops on 2nd June, 1997 in which eighty-seven civilians were killed, Tejan Kabbah in a BBC interview admitted having ordered the Nigerian bombardment of Freetown and callously added that the job was not yet complete. The civilian death toll in succeeding aggression by the Nigerians has now exceeded four hundred (400). The people of Sierra Leone are bitter and they no longer trust Mr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah to lead them.

2. Reference has been made to the fact that the Revolutionary United Front is pivotal in whatsoever solution is to be found to the Sierra Leone problem. Those are combatants who have been in the bush for six years. In the course of this period, they successfully resisted the Sierra Leone Army which at that times was fighting side by side with traditional militias and contingents from a number of West African Countries combined with groups like the Ghurkas and the Executive Outcomes. Undoubtedly, the Revolutionary United Front is a formidable fighting force that can neither be ignored nor underrated, yet the International Community has been giving the impression that the return of Ahmad Tejan Kabbah to the Presidency of the Republic of Sierra Leone is the most important single factor in determining the fate of the country.

It is glaringly evident that the current problems of Sierra Leone including the coup d'etat all emanate from the non-implementation of the Abidjan Peace Accord by Mr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. Foday Sankoh stays incarcerated in the Federal Republic of Nigeria and international organisations including the United Nations, the Commonwealth, the Organisation of African Unity and ECOWAS, all of which are moral guarantors of the said Abidjan Peace Accord have stayed ominously silent and have done little or nothing to secure his release. Let me assure Your Excellency that without Foday Sankoh and his formidable combatants of the Revolutionary United Front being directly involved, there can be no peace in Sierra Leone. The Revolutionary United Front combatants have no trust in Ahmad Tejan Kabbah and as of now, believe beyond a doubt that the reinstatement of Tejan Kabbah will lead either to their assassination or to their return to hostilities. Your Excellency, you are aware of the devastation and carnage that can result from urban guerilla warfare. The Revolutionary United Front combatants are now in our towns and cities.

3. Since Mr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah took over the reins of power in Sierra Leone, the Armed Forces of the Republic of Sierra Leone have been maintained on threats and intimidatory remarks. In the period in question, no logistics were bought for the Army. Supplies of rice, drugs, fuel and allowance were unilaterally reduced without consultations with the Army. Under the threat that, not withstanding the fact that the country was in a state of war the military was going to be cut half, morale among the men fell to such a low that discipline plummeted and the safety of officers was put at stake. Men demanded to know whether they were on the demobilisation list before obeying orders to go to the front. In the course of this period, 250 experienced soldiers were sent off without their benefits. These men are now languishing. Mr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah has publicly said that he only found out that there were no drugs in the Army after his wife's visit to the Military Hospital in Freetown a few weeks before the military takeover. He was the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.

4. Whilst the Armed Forces of the Republic provided for under the Constitution were being starved of logistics and supplies, the SLPP tribal hunter militia, the Kamajors, received logistics and supplies far beyond their immediate needs. This was enough indication of the preference for the private army over our Armed Forces, foreshadowing the ultimate replacement of the Constitutional Defence Force by Mr. Kabbah's hunters. Since the commencement of their hostile activities against soldiers under the direction of Mr. Hinga Norman, the Deputy Minister, over one hundred (100) soldiers have been killed by Kamajors. All of those murders have gone unpunished. The Kamajors therefore proceeded to the next degrading step of imposing a 6 o'clock curfew on all soldiers in Southern and Eastern provincial towns and cities. Your Excellency, no self-respecting Army would tolerate such humiliation indefinitely.

5. As has been hinted earlier in this letter, the conduct of the International Community relating to the crisis in Sierra Leone has left the impression that international organisations have no regard or respect for the existence of the Revolutionary United Front and for their involvement in the affairs of Sierra Leone. This has made the Revolutionary United Front feel not wanted. Let us recall that it is with the insistence of the International Community that the people of Sierra Leone went on with premature General and Presidential Elections before peace was achieved. It will also be recalled that the Revolutionary United Front and other prominent groups of citizens warned of the consequences of making such a dangerous move. The International Community ignored them and our present crisis is a direct result of those flawed elections.

Your Excellency, it now amazes Sierra Leoneans that these same international organisations and other countries are now advocating for the destruction of the nation of Sierra Leone as a means of correcting that for which they are to blame.

Within the limited space of this letter, we have attempted to present a brief summary of that which characterizes the peculiarity of our situation as opposed to an assumed generality which presumes that a coup d'etat has been made simply for the sake of the personal ambitions of a few. Your Excellency, ours is the case of a failed nation, a nation which was well on the road to a pending destructive and senseless civil war. Our intervention was not to remove Ahmad Tejan Kabbah from office, but to stop our country from falling over a political, economic and social precipice. Our cause is noble and just.

Your Excellency, let me assure you that our intentions and our programmes have been misread and misunderstood. When we went to the ECOWAS convened Ministerial Meetings in Abidjan, La Cote d'Ivoire, we were of the understanding that we were invited to the negotiating table only to discover that we were being presented with a set of ultimatums. I am sure that you will agree with me that that is not in consonance with the rules and spirit of dialogue and negotiation. Consequently as a sign of our good faith and good will, I now seek Your Excellency's assistance to reconvene the Abidjan Meetings but this time with the objective of reflecting the spirit of true negotiation. We implore also that the Chairmanship of the negotiations be revisited.

We are committed to returning this nation to Constitutional Rule in the shortest possible time.

We are committed to going back to the negotiating table to continue discussions on the time frame and modalities for this return to constitutionality.

We are committed to staving off the suffering from the horrors and brutalities of war that the past six years have imposed on our people.

We are committed to the return and consolidation of lasting peace with all parties, including the Revolutionary United Front and the Kamajors.

We are committed to the restoration of prosperity to our people. We now implore you to join us in this struggle for which we assure you our eternal gratitude. May God Bless You.

Please accept, Your Excellency, the sentiments of my highest esteem.