''All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing'' - Edmund Burke


S I E R R A  H E R A L D

Vol XI No 9

The tendency sometimes to protect perpetrators for the sake of peace...doesn't help society. Impunity should not be allowed to stand. - Kofi Annan on Waki report

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Saturday September 26, 2015 - Events in Burkina Faso. Why the rat is sad that the pro-Blaise Compaore coup failed. People power wins the day as the Presidential Guards are sent packing, RPG's and all.The Presidential Guard head who ousted a peoples' government and felt the backlash.The citizens of Burkina Faso protested against the coup by the Presidential Guard.

The elite Presidential Guard of Burkina Faso is no more having burnt its fingers in an attempted coup that eventually should have seen the ousted and disgraced former President Blaise Compaore re-installed in office had it got its way in a country where the main army is as professional as it should be.

And there are interesting comparisons that Sierra Leone watchers would be keen to point out.

The Presidential Guard coup was not popular and had no support among the people. In desperation members of the group got a group of people together to stage what they termed a demonstration of support after the regional body ECOWAS and other international bodies including the UN made it clear it was not in favour of a band of soldiers seizing power during a transitional period leading to elections.

It was a coup that was widely condemned by countries and organisations that stood for democracy and the power of the will of the people. The United States and France were the first Western countries to condemn the coup asking for an immediate return to a process that was in place that should have seen elections held in which an elected President of Burkina Faso would have been seen occupying the top political seat in the country.

In Sierra Leone, on May 25, 1997 a band of soldiers wearing green camouflage tunics on the outside and sporting red vests underneath launched an unexpected move against the democratically-elected government of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah barely a year after elections in 1996 that saw the military, the NPRC of Valentine Strasser and Julius Maada Bio leaving power after a four-year stint.

Kindly recall that it was the people who decided that they had had enough of military rule and now wanted to see a civilian as head of government in Sierra Leone. The first Bintumani conference, attended by delegates from all over the country and in which various sections of Sierra Leone society participated decided at that conference in Freetown that the military must give way to the will of the people in a civilian administration.

Also recall that even when a second Bintumani conference was called after the palace coup that ousted Strasser, the people still called for the military to go never mind the military sponsored-movement which emerged that called for the war to end before elections would be held - the Peace Before Election group. It should be recalled that both Bintumani conferences were convened by the NPRC and in the end had no option but to yield to the wishes of the people. And so after barely a year in office, many Sierra Leoneans were shocked to hear of another military coup on May 25, 1997.Burkinabe stoop up to the coup makers and said no way to them.

It was the most unpopular coup in Sierra Leone's political history with a large majority of civilians refusing to recognise the Johnny Paul-led AFRC. Citizens were aghast at the idea of having another band of uniformed rulers a year after they had started enjoying the results of their demand that the military relinquish power to a civilian administration. Support within the wider community of the army was non-existent as many soldiers who had served during the NPRC appeared to have had enough and wanted to be left alone in peace to pursue the war against the rebels of Foday Sankoh.

Realising that those soldiers in support of the coup were not up to mark, the AFRC then called in the rebels of Foday Sankoh to join them in what they say was a government that would bring peace to Sierra Leone as there would be no more war with the rebels sharing power with them.

That was the sugar-coated pill fed to Sierra Leoneans and the international community. However it was clear to watchers of the political canvas of Sierra Leone that this was far from the truth. The AFRC was extremely worried, scared stiff that their numbers were thin on the ground and that in another mass movement by the people, they stood no chance. The co-opting of the murderous and rapist band of RUF members was meant to swell their numbers and intimidate Sierra Leoneans into accepting the AFRC or face dire consequences.

The international community again stepped in to find a way out for the AFRC/RUF band of murderers, rapists, human rights abusers and plunderers. They arranged a number of meetings headed by the regional body ECOWAS to find an easy way out for the AFRC/RUF coalition of evil so that their key operatives would be given a face-saving exit.

After one such meeting Dr James Jonah, then Foreign minister in the Tejan Kabbah administration announced that a deal had been reached with the junta and that they have agreed to hand power back to the civilian government of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah and all that remained were the modalities for a face-saving transfer of power.

It was while a meeting on the crisis was going on that out of the blue Johnny Paul Koroma made a speech in which he dashed all such hopes telling the nation and the world that the AFRC was there to stay and that it would be in power for at least another four years after which it would conduct various elections that would see the emergence of a new civilian administration. This should have been an APC government installed by the AFRC/RUF.

International broadcaster and one-time famous citizen, one Hilton Fyle of BBC Network Africa fame having cut his teeth with the NPRC in film production was believed to have been a part of the support group of the beasts in power, the AFRC/RUF coalition of evil. Residents in Freetown at the time can still recall his usual threat of cutting off the phone if in his phone-in programmes, anyone dared to criticise the AFRC.

He too in a book he later authored had this bit - "There was no denying however, that at the outset at least, the AFRC was planning to make a long stay. Apart from ignoring my advice in the beginning, it was clear there was a body of stubborn elements in the administration-or advisers-who insisting that the AFRC should not hand over power quickly. They were obviously the force behind the mighty blunder which wrecked the first peace talks chaired by the Nigerian Foreign Minister Chief Tom Ikimi...Someone wrote a defiant and cavalier speech, which he delivered in a broadcast to the nation. People power shows its mark again as pro-Blaise Campaore coup fails.

The speech was timed to coincide with the start of this peace meeting, but instead of being friendly and conciliatory, he spelled out plans by the AFRC to stay in power for four years, including some of it programs it would pursue during this period.

The speech was interpreted as an insult to the International Community, and the meeting was called off.

It was then that ECOWAS and the rest of the world began to pile up the pressure. The AFRC realising its mistake began to temper its approach and impress the world that it was serious about negotiating a handover of power, but it was too late."

Kindly note Hilton Fyle's observation - "Apart from ignoring my advice in the beginning, it was clear there was a body of stubborn elements in the administration-or advisers-who insisting that the AFRC should not hand over power quickly." He may have been an adviser, but as he points out "...there was a body of stubborn elements in the administration-or advisers...".

What everyone on the ground knew at the time was that this group of hard core advisers were APC operatives who see the overthrow of the SLPP as a means to power when the AFRC/RUF eventually leaves - if they ever were to do so. It would be recalled that many of the APC operatives now enjoying the fruits of democracy under the AFRC/RUF-supporting rat at State House were key players under the Johnny Paul band of butchers. These include, at least in the open, one Victor Bockarie Foh, Kainday Bangura and the AFRC Governor of the Central Bank one Christian Kargbo.

Junta spokesman Allieu Kamara did his best to put together what was now a Humpty Dumpty situation - the broken promise that could never be put together again. The Sierra Leone web had this -

"AFRC spokesman Allieu Kamara said Thursday that AFRC leader Major Johnny Paul Koroma's speech had been misinterpreted and that "he did not say" the AFRC will hold on to power until 2001.

"It was just an intention he intends to pursue, he was not announcing a program," Kamara said. "He was talking to the people of Sierra Leone to explain to them the problems of our country and at the same time to enlighten them a little bit. If he is given the opportunity, these were the areas he was going to concentrate on." Kamara said the AFRC had been continuing to "work for the people" of Sierra Leone while AFRC envoys were negotiating in Abidjan."

And the Sierra Leone web continued with the story thus -

"AFRC leader Major Johnny Paul Koroma acknowledged that his speech of July 30 which brought about the collapse of the peace talks had been a mistake in judgment and "has not gone down well to a number of our enlightened citizens."

In a fax to AFRC Foreign Minister Dr. Alimamy Pallo Bangura, the AFRC's Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs who headed the delegation to Abidjan, Koroma said the speech was delivered "in direct response to what appeared to me at the time to be the continued intransigence of the ECOWAS Foreign Ministers based on their mandate."

Koroma conceded that the speech had undercut the work of the AFRC envoys.

"I am willing further to admit this much - that I erred in making such a broadcast at the time the negotiations were in progress in Abidjan and the impression might have been created that our delegation was not acting in good faith throughout," he wrote.

"I ask of you to read this my statement to the ECOWAS Foreign Ministers in Abidjan and trust that what I have now said will in good measure provide a level of comfort that will enable them to see their way clear towards the ultimate resumption of the talks in Abidjan in an atmosphere of the utmost good faith on all sides."The Presidential Guard may have the most sophisticated equipment, but it stood no chnace against the people and the national army.

In Burkina Faso, the Presidential Guard quickly realised it had made a terrible mistake of going against the wishes of the people.

Despite the apology of coup leader as carried on this BBC story, it did not mean a thing to the people because they knew if they had not resisted, it would now have been a different story. "Coup leader Gen Gilbert Diendere admitted the putsch had been "the biggest mistake". "We knew the people were not in favour of it," he said."

Yesterday Friday 25th September, the re-installed government held its first Cabinet meeting at which certain key decisions were taken - among them the disbanding of the Presidential Guard.

The New York Times has this on the first Cabinet meeting after the interim government was re-instated -

"Burkina Faso's transitional president on Friday signed a decree to disband the presidential guard that staged a coup more than a week ago. Interim President Michel Kafando also fired the commander of the presidential guard, Col. Boureima Kere, and the country's security minister, Col. Sidi Pare, according to the decree that was read on national television.

Burkina Faso's armed forces said in a communique that they have started disarming the presidential guard and there is an inventory of their weapons. The decision was made after Kafando met with interim Prime Minister Yacouba Isaac Zida and other ministers for the first cabinet meeting since the transitional government was reinstalled Wednesday. Protesters were not prepared to encourage the coup and protested long and hard. They won.

Zida, who formerly served as the second in command for the presidential guard, said earlier he favored the action to disarm and disband the group. The prime minister said Diendere's future was still being considered and an investigation is being launched into the coup.

"Justice will be served after the conclusion of these investigations," Zida said.

The lessons here?

Had the AFRC handed over power peacefully, the country would have been spared further bloodshed and misery but because die-hard core APC operatives were the chief advisers it went on a campaign of murder, arson and rape prolonging the agony of the people for nine months.

Some of the APC diehards who advised the AFRC are still in place and now that the APC is in power are using their leverage to reward the AFRC/RUF for that poor advice that cost the AFRC and the people of Sierra Leone so much agony.

Still wondering why Omrie Golley was freed from prison and why he is now the rat's envoy to South Korea? Take a look at this should he deny he was not a mouthpiece for the murderous Revolutionary United Front of Foday Saybana Sankoh, the blood thirsty beast who wanted to rule Sierra Leone.

Any wonder why a number of APC operatives who were a part of the AFRC/RUF murder, rape and arson machine are now occupying positions in which they are paid by the sweat of those they maimed, brutalised, raped and murdered?

Any wonder why elements of the anti-people conspiracy and who directed the murder schemes of the AFRC are now in office coming from such places like the USA, the UK and other parts of the diaspora?

Take a look at all of the rat's appointments and you will see  clear pattern of rewarding the enemies of democracy and the people of Sierra Leone - never mind a sprinkling of others who were not a part of the AFRC/RUF conspiracy against the people.


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The right choice is Kevin McPhilips Travel

©Sierra Herald 2002