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Published 22nd January 1999

Vol 40 No 2

Sierra Leone

No surrender, no deal

President Kabbah has narrowly missed being overthrown again and still lacks a political strategy to deal with the

Prospects for a political solution to Sierra Leone’s rebel war seem to have perished along with the more than 2,000 civilians officially reckoned to have been killed in the Revolutionary United Front’s assault on Freetown. Indeed, local sources say the death toll could be nearer 8,000 (at the height of the fighting 550 bodies were cremated on one day) and that excludes the current round of revenge killings and summary executions by the Kamajor hunter-militias and soldiers from the West African peacekeeping force, Ecomog. While many Westerners and expatriate Sierra Leoneans argue that the RUF’s brutal assault on Freetown and operations in the diamond-rich eastern region make negotiations unavoidable for President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah’s government, the mood inside the country has hardened. ‘No surrender, no negotiations’ is the view on the Freetown streets, even among those who a month ago were pushing for a dialogue with RUF leaders and a pardon for leader Foday Sankoh, who was convicted of treason in October and is now held under Nigerian guard in Conakry, Guinea.

West Africa, according to Mr Taylor

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Charles Taylor and his ally, Burkina Faso's Blaise Compaoré, are undermining peace in the region – and they have more plans

Among others, Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Britain and the United States believe Liberian President Charles Taylor has trained and armed the brutally effective rebels of Sierra Le...

Central Africa's schism

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Kabila is determined to fight on but his foreign backers are looking for an exit

‘Peace in our time’ was the message emerging from the 18 January Windhoek summit on the Congo-Kinshasa war. Yet sadly, President Sam Nujoma’s assurances of a new era of regional pe...

Trial and error

Faction fighting and an embarassing ex-dictator pose problems for the President

Backstabbing is getting more vicious among barons of the ruling Alliance pour la Démocratie au Mali (Adema). Few doubt that Adema will win the presidential election in 2002 by a w...

Many complaints, some satisfaction

Once a year, Malians are allowed to air their grievances in a public forum – and broadcast on national television

The 144 employees of Timbuktu airport wrote to complain that their pay arrived late. They couldn’t afford to travel across the desert and mountains to the capital, Bamako, to read ...

Dubious democracy

Election results can be fixed but it will be more difficult to contain the military fall out

On 10 January, soldiers of President Ange-Félix Patassé’s Presidential Guard, led by General François Djadder Bedaya, set free Théophile Sonny Colé, veteran leader of the main uni...


Political chemistry

A key reason why the United States bombed El Shifa factory on 20 August (AC Vol 39 No 17) was because of its links to Iraq, Africa Confidential has learned. US and British intell...

Hornet's nest

Algerian troops raided into north-west Niger in late November, with approval and support from the government in Niamey, Africa Confidential has learned.

Une autre entente

It is a reflection of how grave the region’s spiralling conflicts are that Britain and France are now working more closely on Africa policy than at any time since General Charles d...