The Sierra Leone Web


September 1994

22 September: Sierra Leone's military leader, Captain Valentine Strasser, is due to leave Saturday for a week-long visit to China to seek substantial aid for Sierra Leone. Aides said Strasser would ask China's help in harbour construction, reviving the country's railway which was dismantled after heavy losses in 1971, and to supply ammunition to the country's Chinese-armed military. China is already renovating Freetown's dilapidated Fourah Bay University campus and aiding with health, agriculture, power, and sports projects. The country's only functioning sugar plantation and refinery is Chinese-run and Freetown's 2,000-strong Chinese community plays a key role in commerce. China is the Sierra Leone's main arms supplier, and has stepped up shipments since RUF rebels launched an uprising from Liberia in 1991.

A group of northerners Friday became the first Sierra Leonean troops to complete a new training programme run by Nigerian military advisors. Chief of Staff Colonel Kelly Conteh said at the time of their recruitment earlier this year that he wanted troops who knew the terrain available for service in the north, where the Temne ethnic group is dominant.