Sierra Leone Journal
Dispatches from Pre-War Freetown and Beyond

 


Timeline to War:
List of Important Events in Recent History of Sierra Leone


Nov. 28, 1985 Siaka Stevens retires; Joseph Saidu Momoh becomes president (WA 12 Dec 88)

May 29, 1988 Siaka Stevens dies

Dec. 24, 1989, Liberia invaded by dissidents crossing border with Côte d’Ivoire (WA 8 Jan 90). Charles Taylor identified as among dissidents (WA 22 Jan 90)

May 24, 1990, Teacher protests in Freetown (WA 4 Jun 90) (WA 11 Jun 90) (WA 2 Jul 90)

Jun. 16, 1990, Liberian peace talks in Freetown (WA 25 Jun 90) (WA 23 Jul 90)

July 1, 1990, Liberian rebels attack Monrovia (WA 9 Jul 90)

Aug. 23, 1990, ECOMOG intervention force sails from Freetown to Liberia (WA 3 Sep 90)

Sep. 9, 1990, Liberia’s president Doe murdered (WA 17 Sep 90) (WA 24 Sep 90) (WA 15 Oct 90)

Oct. 16, 1990, Lorry drivers and market women strike in Freetown (WA 29 Oct 90)

October 1990, Constitutional review commission appointed in Freetown (WA 5 Nov 90)

November 1990, Liberia’s rebel leader Charles Taylor threatens retaliation against Sierra Leone for allowing ECOMOG forces to stage their Liberian operations at Freetown’s Lungi Airport (WA 19 Nov 90) (WA 3 Dec 90)

Mar. 23, 1991, Rebels attack towns along Sierra Leone’s southern border with Liberia (WA 1 Apr 91) (15 Apr 91) (WA 15 Apr 91) (WA 22 Apr 91)

Mar. 28, 1991, S.L. constitutional review commission recommends multi-party system of government (WA 8 Apr 91) (WA 13 Jan 92)

April, 1991, Nigeria and Guinea send troops to aid Sierra Leone in battle against rebels (WA 22 Apr 91) (WA 13 May 91) (WA 20 May 91)

May 13, 1991, First mention of Foday Sankoh as leader of rebels fighting in Sierra Leone (WA 13 May 91)

May 23, 1991, Constitutional Review Commission delivers its “white paper” on return of Sierra Leone to multi-party democracy (WA 3 Jun 91) (WA 10 Jun 91)

May 27, 1991, First mention of Revolutionary United Front (RUF) (WA 27 May 91)

July 2, 1991, Sierra Leone parliament votes to end 13 years of one-party rule (WA 15 Jul 91)

July 8, 1991, First reports of forced conscription of Sierra Leoneans into RUF forces (WA 8 Jul 91)

August, 1991, Sierra Leoneans vote to end one-party rule in national referendum; amended constitution passes parliament (WA 9 Sep 91) (WA 16 Sep 91)

Sept., 1991, Teachers strike; refuse to re-open schools for new term (WA 4 Nov 91) (WA 11 Nov 91)

February 1992, Another teachers strike (WA 24 Feb 92) (WA 2 Mar 92) (WA 23 Mar 92)

April, 1992, Voter registration begins (WA 20 Apr 92)

Apr. 29, 1992, Coup in Freetown ousts Momoh; National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC) led by Captain Valentine Strasser takes power (WA 4 May 92) (WA 11 May 92) (WA 18 May 92)

October 1992, Four American nuns murdered in Liberia; Charles Taylor’s NPFL accused (WA 9 Nov 92)

December 1992, First mention of drug use by RUF rebels (WA 7 Dec 92)

December 1992, NPRC appoints advisory council to map return to civilian rule; council elects Ahmed Tejan Kabbah as its chairman (WA 21 Dec 92)

Dec. 28, 1992, Coup attempt in Freetown foiled; 3 killed in the attempt and 9 executed shortly afterward; 17 others sentenced to death for a previous plot were also executed, including former police inspector general James Bambay Kamara, who had been in custody since the April coup that brought the NPRC to power (WA 11 Jan 93) (11 Jan 93) (WA 22 Mar 93)

September 1993, Beccles-Davies Commission report on assets of former government ministers issued; millions of leones worth of assets confiscated from former president Momoh and the estate of Siaka Stevens (WA 6 Sep 93) (WA 20 Sep 93) (WA 27 Sep 93)

Sep. 16, 1993, Teachers launch another nationwide strike (WA 20 Sep 93) (WA 4 Oct 93)

November 1993, Coup plot alleged; 4 Vietnamese arrested; former NPRC member S.A.J. Musa linked to plot (WA 8 Nov 93) (WA 17 Jan 94) (21 Feb 94)

December 1993, NPRC announces timetable for return to civilian rule (WA 6 Dec 93)

Dec. 3, 1993, Advisory council headed by Ahmed Tejan Kabbah presents its 170-page working document on Sierra Leone’s proposed constitution (WA 17 Jan 94)

January 1994, James Jonah appointed chairman of the Interim National Electoral Commission responsible for registering voters and drawing constituency boundaries in preparation for voting in Nov. 1995 (WA 10 Jan 93)

Mar. 7, 1994, Liberian National Transitional Government (LNTG) installed in Monrovia to run Liberia for 6 months until elections scheduled for Sept. 7 (WA 14 Mar 94)

March, 1994, Three missionaries killed by RUF in Panguma, Kenema District (WA 28 Mar 94)

April, 1994, First mention of “sobels,” soldiers of S.L. armed forces who engage in looting and extortion and then blame their crimes on rebels of the RUF; also first reports of S.L. soldiers defecting to rebel side (WA 25 Apr 94) (WA 26 Sep 94)

April, 1994, War moving to the north with attacks on Masingbi and Makali (on the Kono road east of Magburaka); first reports of mutilations perpetrated by rebels on civilians (WA 25 Apr 94)

April, 1994, Thirteen senior officers of S.L. army sacked amid rumors that army and NPRC are at odds (WA 25 Apr 94)

October 1994, Draft constitution for Sierra Leone formally presented by chairman of National Advisory Council Ahmed Tejan Kabbah; this represents a revision of the original working document following a period of public comment (WA 10 Oct 94)

Nov. 7, 1994, Four Vietnamese accused of involvement in alleged coup plot of Nov. 93 released (WA 14 Nov 94)

Nov. 12, 1994, Twelve soldiers convicted of murder and armed robbery in 1992 are executed in Freetown, among them a soldier accused of collaboration with the RUF; attorney general Franklyn Kargbo refuses to sanction executions and leaves S.L. to seek political asylum in Britain (WA 10 Oct 94) (WA 21 Nov 94) (WA 26 Dec 94)

November 1994, RUF rebels attack Kabala, capture 2 members of British VSO along with 1 American and 1 Belgian (WA 21 Nov 94) (WA 12 Dec 94)

Dec. 4, 1994, First meeting of S.L. government and RUF representatives reported (WA 19 Dec 94) (WA 26 Dec 94)

Dec. 28, 1994, Ceasefire in Liberia takes effect; faction leaders declare war is over (WA 9 Jan 95)

January 1995, RUF links fate of kidnapped VSO volunteers to that of S.L. army colonel sentenced to death for aiding rebels (WA 23 Jan 95)

January 1995, RUF issues statement on its political goals; denies that talks with government took place on Dec. 4 (WA 30 Jan 95)

Jan. 20, 1995, Sierra Rutile (SRL) and Sierra Leone Ore and Metal (SIEROMCO) mines near Moyamba and Gbangbatok attacked; some foreign and Sierra Leonean mine workers taken hostage; mines closed and all remaining foreign personnel evacuated (WA 30 Jan 95)

Jan. (end of), 1995, Rebels invade Port Loko and Kambia districts taking hostages, including 7 nuns, and forcing residents to flee across the border to Guinea (WA 6 Feb 95). Nuns released (27 Mar 95)

April, 1995, RUF said to be closing in on Freetown (WA 17 Apr 95) (WA 24 Apr 95) (WA 8 May 95)

May, 1995, First reports of a private army of South African soldiers (later identified as Executive Outcomes) being hired by S.L. government to train S.L. armed forces (WA 15 May 95) (WA 29 May 95) (WA 5 Jun 95)

June, 1995, Ban on political activities lifted; political parties allowed to form under guidelines set by government (WA 26 Jun 95) (WA 3 Jul 95)

Aug. 15, 1995, National Consultative Conference held in Freetown supports return to civilian rule; adopts guidelines for return including proportional representation method of electing members of parliament (WA 28 Aug 95)

Aug. 19, 1995, Liberian factions sign new peace accord in Abuja, Nigeria (WA 28 Aug 95) (WA 18 Sep 95)

October 1995, Fifteen political parties registered to compete in Sierra Leone elections (WA 9 Oct 95) (WA 23 Oct 95) (WA 4 Dec 95) (WA 8 Jan 96)

December 1995, General elections to return Sierra Leone to civilian rule scheduled for February 26, 1996 (WA 11 Dec 95)

December 1995, RUF and OAU representatives hold talks in Abidjan (WA 8 Jan 96)

Jan. 16, 1996, Strasser removed as head of state and chairman of NPRC, replaced by Brigadier Julius Maada Bio (WA 22 Jan 96)

Feb. 12, 1996, National Consultative Conference re-convened in Freetown; votes to go ahead with elections (WA 19 Feb 96)

Feb. 26, 1996, Elections held in Sierra Leone; around 50% of 1.6 million registered voters take part; SLPP leads parliamentary voting with 36.1% and presidential voting with 35.8%; 55% of vote required for president, so run-off to be held between top two finishers Ahmed Tejan Kabbah (SLPP) and John Karefa-Smart (NUPP). Five parties share the 68 seats in parliament according to their percentage of the vote (WA 11 Mar 96); 12 paramount chief MPs elected separately (WA 1 Apr 96)

Feb-Mar 1996, First talks between S.L. government and RUF held in Côte d’Ivoire (WA 11 Mar 96) (WA 18 Mar 96)

Mar. 15, 1996, Kabbah wins runoff election for president, to be sworn in Mar 29 (WA 25 Mar 96)

Mar. 25, 1996, Maada Bio and Foday Sankoh meet in Côte d’Ivoire; 2 month ceasefire declared (WA 1 Apr 96) (WA 8 Apr 96)

Mar. 29 1996, Kabbah sworn in as president of Sierra Leone, announces blanket amnesty for all political prisoners; new parliament to convene Apr 2; analysis of vote shows parties still regional in character (WA 1 Apr 96) (WA 8 Apr 96) (WA 15 Apr 96)

Apr. 23, 1996, Kabbah and Sankoh meet in Côte d’Ivoire; agree to maintain ceasefire (WA 29 Apr 96)

May 27, 1996, 26 of 28 provisions of a peace accord between S.L. government and RUF said to have been agreed on (WA 17 Jun 96) (WA 29 Jul 96)

June 7, 1996, New S.L. parliament convenes; President Kabbah outlines country’s problems and possible solutions in an address at the opening session (WA 24 Jun 96)

July, 1996, Re-structuring of S.L. armed forces announced (WA 8 Jul 96)

Aug. 18, 1996, Liberia’s faction leaders approve second Abuja agreement to end war; elections now scheduled for May 1997 (WA 2 Sep 96) (WA 21 Apr 97)

Sep. 8, 1996, Coup attempt in Freetown foiled; over 140 members of S.L. armed forces compulsorily retired, including Strasser and Maada Bio (WA 16 Sep 96) (WA 23 Sep 96)

October 1996, Peace agreement between S.L. government and RUF proves elusive; Kabbah calls for international community to impose sanctions on RUF (WA 21 Oct 96)

Nov. 30, 1996, Kabbah and Sankoh sign peace agreement in Abidjan (WA 2 Dec 96) (WA 10 Feb 97)

Mar. 2, 1997, Foday Sankoh, visiting Nigeria, placed under house arrest; split develops in RUF leadership (NA Jun 97); (NA Jul/Aug 98 gives date of Sankoh’s detention as 8 Mar 97)

Mar. 26, 1997, Dr. John Karefa-Smart, leader of the UNPP suspended from parliament for contempt; 14 UNPP members of parliament expelled from the party, and thus from parliament, by Karefa-Smart are reinstated in parliament (WA 21 Apr 97)

May 25, 1997, Coup in Freetown removes Kabbah government; a day of shooting and looting results in several deaths; ministry of finance destroyed in rocket attack; Bank of Sierra Leone loses 5th and 6th floors to fire (WA 2 Jun 97) (NA Jul/Aug 97)

May 27, 1997, Coup-makers announce the formation of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC); Major Johnny Paul Koroma, a prisoner who was released during the coup, declares himself head of state, invites Foday Sankoh to join the new government (WA 2 Jun 97)

June 2, 1997, Mammy Yoko Hotel nearly destroyed in fighting between Nigerian soldiers and S.L. army; Nigeria flies in reinforcements; U.S. evacuates foreigners; workers strike in Freetown (NYT 4 Jun 97) (NYT 10 Jun 97) (WA 16 Jun 97)

July 19, 1997, Elections held in Liberia; Charles Taylor wins presidency by landslide, receiving 75% of the vote; his National Patriotic Party takes 21 of 26 Senate seats and 49 of 64 seats in the House of Representatives (WA 28 Jul 97) (WA 4 Aug 97)

Aug. 2, 1997, Charles Taylor inaugurated as 21st president of Liberia (WA 4 Aug 97) (WA 11 Aug 97)

October 1997, Peace deal between Sierra Leone’s AFRC junta and ECOWAS signed in Conakry, Guinea; pact provides for an immediate ceasefire and return of Kabbah government in 6 months (WA 27 Oct 97)

Feb 5-15, 1998, Nigerian ECOMOG troops drive AFRC junta from Freetown; Kabbah government to return to power soon (WA 16 Feb 98) (WA 2 Mar 98) (NA Mar 1998)

Mar. 10, 1998, President Kabbah returns to Freetown to resume leadership of S.L. government (WA 16 Mar 98) (NA Apr 98)

Aug. 25, 1998, Sixteen civilians, including 5 journalists sentenced to death in Freetown for collaborating with the AFRC/RUF junta (WA 7 Sep 98) (NA Oct 98)

Sept., 1998, Foday Sankoh, now in custody of S.L. government, indicted in Freetown court; unclear exactly when Nigerians handed him over (WA 28 Sep 98)

Sept., 1998, Twenty-four soldiers executed in Freetown after court martial finds them guilty of treason, murder, and collaborating with the enemy (i.e. the AFRC junta) (WA 19 Oct 98)

October 1998, Foday Sankoh sentenced to death in Freetown court (WA 9 Nov 98)

Jan. 6, 1999, RUF rebels attack Freetown; fighting leaves much of the city in ruins; Nigerian ECOMOG forces drive rebels out during a 12-day battle (NYT 7 Jan 99) (NYT 8 Jan 99)(WA 18 Jan 99) (WA 1 Feb 99)

May 18, 1999, Kabbah and Sankoh sign ceasefire agreement in Lomé, Togo (NYT 19 May 99) (NA Jun 99)

July 7, 1999, S.L. government and RUF sign peace agreement in Lomé; accord provides for coalition government to be led by Kabbah with four cabinet posts for RUF; Sankoh to head commission on minerals and national reconstruction; amnesty granted to RUF (NYT 8 Jul 99)

Oct. 3, 1999, Foday Sankoh travels to Freetown to join S.L. government (NA Nov 99)

Oct. 22, 1999, U.N. Security Council votes to authorize 6,000-member peacekeeping force for Sierra Leone (NYT 23 Oct 99)

Nov. 30, 1999, First U.N. peacekeeping troops, 130 Kenyans, arrive in Freetown (NYT 1 Dec 99)

May, 1, 2000, RUF rebels take some 500 U.N. peacekeepers hostage (TD 6 May 00) (TD 7 May 00) (WP 7 May 00)

May, 7, 2000, Fighting between S.L. army and RUF nears Freetown (NYT 8 May 00) (NYT 9 May 00)

May, 8, 2000, Sankoh disappears following demonstrations at his house in Freetown; several demonstrators die at the hand of Sankoh’s guards (NYT 9 May 2000) (NTY 10 May 00)

May 11, 2000, Combined forces of S.L. government, Kamajors, and U.N. halt rebel advance on Freetown (NYT 12 May 00) (NYT 13 May 00)

May 17, 2000, Foday Sankoh captured in Freetown (NYT 18 May 00)

May 24, 2000, Two foreign journalists killed by RUF (NYT 25 May 00)

May 29, 2000, Last of U.N. hostages released by RUF (NYT 29 May 00)

Aug. 26, 2000, Eleven British soldiers captured by rebel followers of ousted AFRC government known as Westside Boys (WA 21 Aug 00) (NYT 27 Aug 00); five later released (NYT 31 Aug 00)

Sep. 12, 2000, British stage raid in Sierra Leone; free 6 British hostages and 1 Sierra Leonean (NYT 11 Sep 00)

Nov. 11, 2000, S. L. government and RUF agree to new ceasefire (NYT 11 Nov 00); doubts about ceasefire (NYT 12 Nov 00)

NA = New African

NYT= New York Times

TD = Tallahassee Democrat

WA = West Africa

This research timeline helped to inform the book Black Man's Grave: Letters from Sierra Leone by Gary Stewart and John Amman. Copyright © 2001 by Gary Stewart




 
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