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Vol 37 No 7

Published 29th March 1996

Sierra Leone

Falling out parade

Civilians eagerly voted the military out but they ignore the soldiers at their peril

Demanding elections and calling the military's bluff in the middle of a civil war was always going to be a high risk strategy. Yet it may have worked, at least in the short term. Sierra Leoneans were clearly delighted with the chance to throw out the military regime of Brigadier Julius Maada Bio. In the later stages of the parliamentary election campaign, in February, civilians were openly hostile to the large, incompetent and undisciplined army. Politicians thought to have army connections were wiped off the electoral map. Have the soldiers got the message? The fear is that civilians will be unable to cut the army down to size and in six months' time, another band of disgruntled soldiers resentful at being hounded from office will make their move against an elected but weak government. Then the cycle would begin again.

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