The Sierra Leone Web




On the 25th of May 1997, Soldiers of the Sierra Leone Army, tired of war with the Brothers and Sisters of the RUF - (Revolutionary United Front) decided to overthrow the Government of President Ahmed Tejan Kabba, who they perceived as reluctant to conclude peace.  The Armed Forces Ruling Council (AFRC) was formed with the then Major Johnny Paul Koroma as Chairman. 

Immediately the following decisions were implemented:

1. Cpl Foday Saybana Sankoh (then incarcerated in Nigeria) was immediately contacted to call on his men to cease all hostilities and come and join their Brothers and Sisters of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Sierra Leone, to ensure total peace. Cpl. Sankoh gave his blessing to this Alliance.

2. Members of the RUF were given slots in both the "SUPREME RULING COUNCIL" and the "COUNCIL OF SECRETARIES OF STATE" (CABINET). But most importantly, the choice of their nominees to both these Councils and all of the Government and Para-statal appointment, were left entirely in their hands.

3. They were properly catered for, housing was provided for not only the RUF High Command but even men and women of the lower ranks were billeted in the Army Barracks. The Chief of Defense Staff (CDS), the late Brigadier S.F.Y. Koroma gave them preference when rice was supplied. In addition, the sum of Le50,000,000.00 (Fifty-million Leones) was given to them as [word indistinct].

4. No decision was ever taken at either Government or Military levels where they were not adequately represented. The Chairman AFRC ensured that they were never marginalized or discriminated against; so he immediately decreed that we were all members of the "People's Army".

5. Member of the RUF were provided with adequate radio communications to facilitate contacts with their men in the field; Telephones with IDD facilities both in their offices and their homes and motor vehicular transport.

On the 13th of February 1998, the ECOMOG Forces over-ran us and we pulled out of Freetown. Lt.-Col. Johnny Paul Koroma decided to relocate to Kailahun, which was both the stronghold and headquarters of the RUF. In taking this decision, he considered that it made good sense for the sake of strengthening the alliance, to relocate to the RUF headquarters, even though the majority of his own fighting forces were in the Northern Region of the Country.

The RUF High Command used his presence in their dominant midst, not only to humiliate him and his family, but to cut him off completely with his men in the field, and marginalize him. He was relocated four miles away from their Headquarters, with no radio communications; his satellite telephone was taken away from him, so he could neither communicate with his men in the field nor his contacts abroad. Members of his house-hold entourage were so harassed and molested, that they had to run away to neighbouring Liberia. He was left all to himself with no security to talk about. The only time he was ever contacted was when there was a crisis. In effect he was a crisis manager. No sooner the crisis in the field was put right, Johnny Paul became irrelevant.

When ever the High Command of the RUF wanted us to carry out a task, they would use his name, as if the orders came directly from him. We got tired of this and demanded to hear from him; to no avail. They made one excuse after another. We therefore took it upon ourselves to leave our mountain stronghold and march into Freetown. We figured out that once we had seized the seat of power, we would be in a very strong position to demand the presence of our Leader at our location. We did not have enough ammunition, as the RUF has never, not even once ever given us ammunition or any other logistic support; so our initial moves were calculated and deliberate, to get supplies from the enemy. By the time we got to "MASIAKA" (47 MILES AWAY FROM Freetown) we had adequate supplies. It was then that the RUF High Command got in touch with us to co-operate our moves. We obeyed, and continued to put pressure on this Western Front, so close to Freetown. It was this pressure that we put on the enemy, who concentrated all their efforts on us, that made it possible for the combined force of the RUF and the SLA to capture Kono which was a major ECOMOG strong-hold.

Our attack on Freetown, made it possible for the release of Cpl. Foday Sankoh and the convening of the Lome Peace Conference. To our greatest surprise we were totally unrepresented, unrecognised and marginalised in all the deliberations and final outcome of the Lome Peace Agreement. People who went there as representatives of the AFRC, were chosen by the RUF High Command. The position of our Leader, Lt.-Col. Johnny Paul Koroma as a stake-holder were not recognised, and therefore, no one thought of inviting him or his personal nominees to the conference to represent our interest. To add insult to injury, when the list of nominees for appointments to
ministerial, para-statal and diplomatic posts were made, no one consulted our Leader, though he was at hand. The RUF took it upon themselves to choose nominees for the AFRC. We want to emphasise, that ours is an alliance of partners or stake-holders and not a firm union; so therefore the perceived imposition of their will and decisions on us is unacceptable. The non-recognition of our Leader, Lt.-Col. Johnny Paul Koroma as a stake-holder in his own rights, representing the interest of the AFRC is not only unacceptable, but will no longer be tolerated. We are therefore making the following demands with respect and all humility:

1. We recognise the big and positive role of H.E. President Charles Taylor of the Republic of Liberia, in helping us solve our problems; and in this regard we will therefore call on his untiring efforts and patience to help us continue our alliance with our RUF partners, for everlasting peace to return to Sierra Leone. It is only with mutual respect, recognition and understanding between the RUF and AFRC that peace can be assured to the good and suffering people of our country - Sierra Leone. We thank him very much for making it possible for us to consult with our Leader after a break of almost 18 (eighteen) months. But we further kindly request him to make it possible that his entire family and dependents are transported to Monrovia, where they will be under his protection. Our Leader, Lt.-Col. Johnny Paul Koroma, will be by the side of Cpl. Foday Saybana Sankoh and travel with him to any location in and out of Sierra Leone in the pursuit of peace.

2. An addendum should be make to the "Lome Peace Agreement" for the sake of clarity and recognition that should indicate that all members of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Sierra Leone, who joined Lt.-Col. Johnny Paul Koroma in the bush in February 1998 are reinstated before any restructuring of the "New Army."

3. In the spirit of the Lome Peace Agreement which recognised the validity of the Conakry Peace Agreement of October 1997, hence the AFRC as a de-facto government, all promotions made in the Armed Forces be recognised as valid and should stand. 

4. Soldiers who attained officers ranks in the bush should be considered for retraining commissioning.

5. These of our soldiers killed in action (KIA) and wounded (WIA) should be recognised and due benefits paid to their families in the case of KIA's or proper medical attention given to the WIA's.

6. In the best interest of fair play and peace a committee should be set up -- "Armed Forces Restructuring Committee" which will for the period of the interim government take on the functions of the "Forces Council". This committee will include both the RUF and AFRC leaders and such other members that would be agreed upon.

7. For the purpose of clarity, where-ever the RUF/SL is mentioned, it should appropriately read RUF/AFRC.

8. In the spirit of the Conakry Peace Accord which offered amnesty to all coupist and their collaborators, the 23 (twenty-three) men and 1 (one) woman of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Sierra Leone who were court martialed for treason and related charges, and were executed by a firing-squad on the 19th of October 1998, be granted total pardon and amnesty "posthumously" and their accrued benefits go to their next of kin.

9. We will be open to a negotiated settlement through our leader, with the Government, for salaries to be paid to us for the time since February, 1998 to now.

10. Payment, or a firm commitment to pay all soldiers who served for more than 40 (forty) years or more and were retired with nothing more than Le 4,000.00 (Four thousand leone and 3 (three) bundles of CI sheets.

11. The names of those people included in the list of nominees for appointment to Government, Para-statal, Diplomatic and all such other committee appointments be regarded as invalid; and the privilege and opportunity be given to our leader Lt.-Col. Johnny Paul Koroma, in consultation with us, to make his choice from among our membership.

12. In conclusion, we wish to assure especially the good people of Sierra Leone who want and deserve peace, that we are totally committed to the Lome Peace Agreement of 7th July, 1999. The demands that we are making are just to ensure the due recognition of our leader and the efforts of the AFRC in bringing peace to Sierra Leone since the 25th of May, 1997.

13. To assure the International Community of our desire and willingness to respect the 1999 Peace Agreement, we have mandated our leader to sign the Peace Agreement for an on our behalf after the necessary amendments and addendum have been made to address our grievances.

We have also mandated him to request an appropriate appointment which will recognise his status and position in the affairs of things; so long as such a position will help the peace process in Sierra Leone.

We thank all those who made it possible for peace to return to Sierra Leone, especially the Chairman of ECOWAS, H.E. President Gnassingbe Eyadema of Togo, H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, H.E. President Charles Taylor of Liberia, H.E. President Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso; and last but not least - H.E. Muhammar Khaddafi of Libya Peoples Jamarihya.

We recognise the efforts of the United States of America through their presidential envoy, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the efforts of the United Kingdom, the United Nations Organization, the Commonwealth of Nations, the Organization for African Unity and last but not the least the dominant and positive role of ECOWAS, without whose lead, all the positive things that brought about an agreement, would not have been possible. We thank all of them from the bottom of our hearts and ask them to please help and guide us through the Peace Process during this our very difficult times. God Bless you all.