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Published 29th March 1996

Vol 37 No 7

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.

Diamonds, dollars and democracy

Sensing the war is dying down, Lebanese diamond traders are swiftly moving back into centres such as Kono in the east. They are keen to regain control of buying operations before a...


Oil companies not diplomats are making the running after a bizarre presidential election

Blatant cheating, with no secret ballot, a disputed electoral roll and the refusal to allow opposition candidates to withdraw, gave victory – and another seven-year mandate &...

Break for the border

The mountain kingdom has to forge a new relationship with South Africa

As politicians and soldiers in Maseru snipe (sometimes literally) at each other, they are unable to tackle the biggest issue in the kingdom: its relationship with South Africa. The...

Last chance alliance

Personal ambition has again got the better of hopes for a united opposition front

Articulate, persuasive and wealthy; for many, Kwame Pianim seemed the best candidate the opposition could put up against Jerry Rawlings in this year' s presidential election. Piani...


Soldiers' schemes

Western support for democracy is being tested by Niger's military rulers who seized power on 21 January. On 25 March, the European Union decided, against French pressure, to mainta...

Funding fall-off

African Development Bank President Morocco's Omar Kabbaj hopes to have reached agreement with donors on a US$2,700 million replenishment for the African Development Fund (ADF 7) ne...

Monrovia muggings

Tension is rising in Monrovia. National Patriotic Front of Liberia leader Charles Taylor and United Liberation Movement -Krahn (Ulimo-K) leader Alhaji G.V.Kromah have banded togeth...