about icg 
  Latin America 
  Middle East 
  by region 
  by date 
  by keyword 
  media releases 
  articles/op. eds 
  media contacts 
contact us 
donate to icg 

 home  programs  africa  west africa  sierra leone
  Sierra Leone’s elections: politics as usual?

Freetown/Brussels, 15 July 2002: The May 2002 election in Sierra Leone was the country’s first truly non-violent vote. Sierra Leone continues to make remarkable progress in ending its eleven-year civil war.

However the election also highlighted a potentially dangerous division between the government and the military, and demonstrated that ethnic tensions remain significant. Other factors, such as corruption and the ongoing war in neighbouring Liberia also have the capacity to reignite conflict.

In a new report, Sierra Leone After Elections: Politics as Usual? the International Crisis Group says that there were concerns about the fairness of the electoral process which saw President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah re-elected with over 70 per cent of the vote and his Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) also win an overwhelming parliamentary majority.

West Africa Project Director Dr Comfort Ero said: “Sierra Leone has been left dangerously close to single party rule. President Kabbah has also done little to establish a cabinet that is broad-based, inclusive and designed to promote the goals of national reconciliation”.

The international community has invested approximately U.S.$2 billion in an expensive and so far successful peacekeeping mission, however many root causes of the war have not been eliminated. Renewed conflict in Liberia reinforces the need for the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) to remain, as well as British military and police training teams.

ICG Africa Program Co-Director Fabienne Hara said: “President Charles Taylor of Liberia retains destabilising regional ambitions, and has the tools to pursue them. Elements of Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and Kamajor militias now in Liberia could be redirected against the country’s fragile peace structures”.

The United Kingdom has significant leverage over the Kabbah government, which relies on international aid for 60-70 per cent of its budget. The British government, the Commonwealth and international donors should therefore make the fight against corruption a priority. The UK in particular, through its military training, should try to ensure unity among the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces, facilitate the disbanding of the Kamajor Civil Defence Forces and work to ensure that the security forces are not split along ethnic, regional or political lines.

The United Nations Security Council should also ensure that UNAMSIL retains a robust mandate, taking into account the increased instability in Liberia. ICG encourages the creation of a Contact Group including Nigeria, the UK, France and the United States to align positions on the Mano River crises and in particular to bring all stakeholders in Liberia’s civil war to the peace table.


Katy Cronin (London) +
email: [email protected]

Ana Caprile (Brussels) +32-(0)2-536 0070
Jennifer Leonard (Washington) +1-202-408 8012

All ICG reports are available on our website www.crisisweb.org


copyright privacy sitemap