Claudia Anthony (with additional content by the Sierra Leone Telegraph)
Sierra Leone Telegraph: 29 July 2017
On this glorious day fourteen years ago, a wicked and monstrous rebel war lord by the name of Foday Saybanah Sankoh died of pneumonia in the custody of the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
His celebrated end came at the Choithram Hospital in Freetown, on 29th of July 2003. Aged 65, Foday Saybanah Sankoh who led his country’s over ten-year-long brutal civil war, had been in detention since May 2000.
He had been arrested and took into detention after his bodyguards opened fire on a crowd of protesters, outside his Freetown residence killing about 20 people.
In 2002, Sankoh suffered a stroke that left him partly paralysed. He was indicted in March 2003, for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
He was then transferred (turned over by Nigeria) to the custody of Sierra Leone’s Special Court on 29 July 1998, exactly five years before his death in Choithram Hospital in Freetown, on 29th of July 2003, aged 65.
The rebel war in Sierra Leon took the lives of over 100,000 people, with at least 5,000 innocent men, women and children amputated by drugged up child soldiers – recruited by and acting under the direct command of Foday Sankoh.
Sierra Leoneans are now preparing for their third, hopefully peaceful and democratic presidential and general elections on the 7th of March 2018.
The expectation is that the outcome of those elections will further strengthen the country’s democratic ideals – rather than see a return to dictatorship or military rule.
It is therefore essential that politicians from across the political divide show maximum restraint and tolerance for free speech. and freedom of association.
They must also refrain from using tribal or regional differences in their campaigns for votes, as such a strategy could lead to unintended and uncontrollable consequences, such as large scale civil disturbance and violence.
After the rebel war in 2001, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was established, to conduct an inquiry into the causes of the war and the lessons that must be learnt.
It is now several years since the publication of the TRC report. Sadly, many of its recommendations have still not been accomplished: Violation of the rule of law and the flagrant abuse of power by those elected to serve the people continues; Chronic youth unemployment, abject poverty, corruption and poor governance are far from being tackled. Those were the seeds of the ten year long rebel war in Sierra Leone.
This article was written by Claudia Anthony, with additional content from the Sierra Leone Telegraph for wider publishing here.
Watch the last days of Foday Sankoh: