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Sierra Leone’s attempted coup and a cost of living crisis put peace to the test

Assaults on army barracks and prisons in Sierra Leone on 26 November 2023 had been a failed coup attempt, in keeping with police and executive officers within the west African nation of 8.8 million people. Christina Mammone, who has researched Sierra Leone’s transition from mass violence, war and atrocities to peace, solutions questions at the tried coup.

What was once the context of the November assaults?

There is not any explicit match or motive which can also be known because the cause for the recent attacks. There have been assaults on Wilberforce, the rustic’s primary army barracks, and two most safety prisons, the Particular Court docket and the Pademba Street Jail complexes. The barracks and the prisons are all primarily based in Freetown, the rustic’s capital.

However there was rising discontent within the nation over the emerging value of residing and the post-election stalemate between the 2 primary political events. In June 2023, the inflation price increased to 44.81% in comparison to 27.95% in June 2022. There has additionally been growing unrest because the re-election of President Julius Maada Bio in June. Those will have all contributed to what came about. Even the budget speech through the finance minister in November 2023 stated emerging meals costs within the nation, caution it would “inflict higher hardship” on electorate.

The price of meals in Sierra Leone increased 60.34% in October 2023 over the similar month within the earlier yr. Meals inflation in Sierra Leone averaged 14.21% from 2008 till 2023, emerging to an all time top of 64.67% in September 2023. A big contributing issue has been the cost of rice, which increased through 41% (imported) and 40.8% (home) yr on yr. Imported rice was once promoting for SLL19,067 (US$0.83) in September 2023 as opposed to SLL21,333 (US$0.93) for native rice.

Some electorate suppose that the federal government has now not achieved sufficient to handle the emerging value of residing. This has ended in violence in some circumstances. Since 2020 there was a rising divide between the federal government and a few electorate over some political selections. An example was once a protest towards the federal government’s plan to transport an influence plant. There have additionally been riots and clashes between civilians and the protection forces like the one in August 2022 in Freetown over the hovering value of residing. This led to alleged heavy-handedness and excessive use of force through the protection brokers.

Those perhaps have larger the extent of mistrust between electorate and the federal government.

Moreover, because the June 2023 parliamentary election political rigidity between the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party and the opposition All People’s Congress has larger.

The All Other people’s Congress was once essential of a perceived lack of transparency in the election process and results. This made it boycott parliamentary complaints, which led to intervention through the Financial Neighborhood of West African States (Ecowas) in resolving the deadlock.

What are the results for peace?

A priority for me is whether or not this incident will inspire additional department and rigidity between the ruling social gathering and the opposition social gathering. Govt movements can have a destructive affect and abate the continuing promotion of democratic practices within the nation.

Then again, in my research into transitional justice within the nation I discovered that the resilience and want of the Sierra Leonean inhabitants to keep peace was once exemplary.

What does it sign for restoration from civil battle?

It is very important remember the fact that the assault at the Wilberforce Barracks was once now not the one assault. There have been next assaults at each the Pademba Street and Particular Court docket Jail complexes. About 2,200 prisoners escaped from the prisons that had been attacked. Some Sierra Leoneans declare that the assault was an try to free up some army officials who had been within the jail.

For the reason that the federal government has categorised those coordinated assaults as an attempted coup, there may be the temptation to attract parallels between the 2023 assaults and the 1997 coup throughout the civil battle which ended in the status quo of the Armed Forces Innovative Council. The council was once formed in May 1997 after Primary Johnny Koromo seized energy. It met with expanding resistance on all fronts: locally, its troops had been engaged in fight with armed forces forces unswerving to Ahmad Tejan Kabbah’s executive; across the world, the Commonwealth suspended Sierra Leone, and the United International locations Safety Council imposed sanctions at the nation. It was once sooner or later overthrown in February 1998 through the Ecowas Tracking Workforce troops.

Moreover, a few of the ones concerned within the assault had been known as a part of the army and the police, elevating questions at the safety scenario of the rustic.

Regardless of such issues, Sierra Leone has remained relatively peaceful within the twenty years because the battle ended. It additionally has a examined framework to proceed to take action however investigations into the new assault will have to be clear and unbiased.

What’s the most probably affect on democracy?

I feel the approaching months are a very powerful for democracy in Sierra Leone.

This yr was once a watershed within the political historical past of the rustic. The All Other people’s Congress candidate, Samuel Kamara, rejected the presidential elections consequence. The social gathering due to this fact boycotted the parliament.

This political deadlock was once resolved on 23 November, 3 days earlier than the assault, with the announcement of a cross-party Elections Evaluation Committee.

Whilst the opposition social gathering has denied involvement within the assault and condemned the attendant violence, there are issues in regards to the most probably affect on political collaboration and bipartisanship.

That is why next movements of the federal government will have to be measured and investigations into the assaults carried out impartially and transparently. It is because such movements will without delay impact the continuing promotion of democracy in Sierra Leone.

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