Weak states and violent conflicts : the case of Sierra Leone 1991-2002
My first experience with violent conflict started when I first heard of a rebel attack in the neighbouring country of Liberia, 1989, where a group of armed men began an assault on the regime of the former dictator, Samuel K. Doe. To quote Reinhold Niebuhr: ‘All human sin seems so much worse in its consequences than in its intentions’, in other words, what started in Liberia as an isolated incident soon turned out to be a catastrophic quagmire. It led to the mass execution of people; the wanton destruction of infrastructure and the massive wave of refugees fleeing to the neighbouring states including Sierra Leone. Ironically, the armed group, which called itself the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), stated that their objective was to oust the corrupt and oppressive regime of the then leadership. Significantly, the leadership of Sierra Leone was no exception to this kind of socio-economic and political problems but the APC government did not think that a similar fate lurked in its path. Two years later a similar group of armed men, who were termed marauders, attacked Sierra Leone in the eastern district of Kailahun, 23rd March 1991.This mist, which at first seemed like a man’s fist, blew and turned out to be a tempestuous wind that greatly struck Sierra Leone for a decade. This wave of violent conflict became one of the darkest spots in the history of West Africa at the time; it began spreading like a cancer, and took many political pundits by surprise. Like many people then, and may be future generations, I became interested in why and how such madness was unleashed on Sierra Leone during 1991-2002.
ForlagUniversitetet i Tromsø
University of Tromsø
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