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Vol 39 No 5

Published 6th March 1998

Sierra Leone

Freetown fracas

The Nigerian-led ousting of Major Johnny- Paul Koroma’s Freetown junta raises awkward questions for Whitehall’s proclaimed ethical foreign policy and its ban on military cooperation with General Sani Abacha’s government. Britain’s Minister of State for Africa Tony Lloyd insisted at the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group meeting in London on 2 March that Nigeria’s Freetown operation was illegal as it had no mandate from the United Nations’ Security Council; while Ghana’s Foreign Minister Victor Gbeho argued it was a legitimate operation sanctioned by the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) and as such the Commonwealth should formally applaud it. Eventually a compromise was hammered out for CMAG’s communique; it commended the role played by Ecowas rather than referring to the regional grouping’ s military arm, Ecomog, which is dominated by Nigeria.

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