Capital : Freetown. Area : 71 740 km². Official language : English. Population : 5 866 000 inhabitants. Currency : Leone. President : Ernest Bai Koroma.
On April 29, 1992, a group of young officers in the Sierra Leonean army, including Sergeant Solomon Musa, Lieutenant Colonel Tom Nyuma, Colonel Yahya Kanu, Brigadier-General Julius Maada Bio, Captain Komba Mondeh, and Captain Valentine Strasser. Apparently frustrated by the government failure to deal with rebels, the young soldiers launched a military coup, which sent president Momoh into exile in Guinea and they established the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC) with Colonel Yahya Kanu as its chairman. Kanu was assasinated by his fellow members of the NPRC, who accused him of trying to Negotiate with the APC. Valentine Strasser eventually took over as the chairman of the NPRC and Head of State of Sierra Leone. A 26-year-old Sergeant Solomon Musa, one of the leaders of the coup and a best friend of Strasser took over as Vice-Chaiman of the NPRC. Many Sierra Leoneans nationwide rush into the streets to welcome the NPRC Administration from the twenty-three year dictatorial APC regime, that was perceived as corrupt. The NPRC junta immediately suspended the 1991 Constitution, declared a state of emergency, limited freedom of speech, and freedom of the press and enacted a rule-by-decree policy. The army and police officers were granted unlimited powers of administrative detention without charge or trial, and challenges against such detentions in court were precluded.
The NPRC proved to be nearly as ineffectual as the Momoh lead APC government in repelling the RUF. More and more of the country fell to RUF fighters, so that by 1995 they held much of the diamond-rich Eastern Province]] and were on the doorsteps of Freetown. To rectify the situation, the NPRC hired several hundred mercenaries from the private firm Executive Outcomes. Within a month they had driven RUF fighters back to enclaves along Sierra Leone's borders. During this time corruption had erupted within senior NPRC members. Some senior NPRC members including Brigadier-General Julius Maada Bio, Lieutenant Colonel Tom Nyuma and Colonel Komba Mondeh, were unhappy with Strasser's handling of the peace process. In January 1996, after nearly four years in power, Strasser was ousted in a coup by his fellow NPRC members, lead by is Defense Minister Brigadier-General Julius Maada Bio. Bio reinstated the Constitution, and called for general elections. Promises of a return to civilian rule were fulfilled by Bio, who handed power over to Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, of the Sierra Leone People's party (SLPP), after he had defeated John Karefa-Smart of the United National People's Party (UNPP) in the second round of presidential elections in early 1996. Kabbah's SLPP party also won majority of the seats in Parliament.
In 1996, Major General Johnny Paul Koroma, was allegedly involved in an attempt to overthrow the government of President Kabbah. He was arrested, put on trial and convicted. He was imprisoned at Freetown's Pademba Road Prison. Some top rank officers in the Sierra Leone Army were unhappy with President Kabbah's decision, and on May 25, 1997, a group of soldiers who called themselves the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) overthrew President Kabbah. The AFRC released Koroma from prison and installed him as their chairman and Head of State of the country. Koroma suspended the constitution, banned demonstrations, shut down all of the country's private radio stations and invited the RUF to join his government. After 10 months in office the junta was ousted by the Nigeria-led ECOMOG forces, and the democratically elected government of President Kabbah was reinstated in March 1998. Following the reinstatement of Kabbah's government, hundreds of civilians who had been accused of helping the AFRC government were illegally detained. Courts-martial were held for soldiers accused of assisting the AFRC government. 24 of these were found guilty and were executed without appeal in October 1998. On January 6, 1999, another unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the government by the AFRC resulted in massive loss of life and destruction of property in Freetown and its environs.
In October, the United Nations agreed to send peacekeepers to help restore order and disarm the rebels. The first of the 6 000-member force began arriving in December, and the Security Council voted in February 2000 to increase the UN force to 11 000 (and subsequently to 13 000). In May, when nearly all Nigerian forces had left and UN forces were attempting to disarm the RUF in eastern Sierra Leone, Sankoh's forces clashed with the UN troops, and some 500 peacekeepers were taken hostage as the peace accord effectively collapsed.
On January 18, 2002, President Kabbah declared the civil war officially over; an estimated 50 000 people were killed, and hundreds of people had their arms or legs hacked off by rebels. That same year, the Sierra Leone Government and the United Nations agreed to set up war crimes court in Freetown.
Elections were finally held in May, 2002. President Kabbah was re-elected, gaining 70% of the vote and his Sierra Leone People's party won a majority of the parliamentary seats.