''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 2

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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Thursday March 13, 2013 - Former President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah is no more as he joins the ancestors. He was 82 and he is credited with steering the ship of peace through very treacherous and dangerous waters and he finally got there to declare the brutal, murderous and savage war over in 2002. We pray that Allah will grant him eternal rest. RIP

The great architect of Sierra Leone's hard-won peace, the one and only former President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah has waved goodbye to his worldly duties at the age of eighty two (82) after what insiders say was a lingering health condition.

The former President would be remembered both at home and abroad for his stance - patience and understanding - as he negotiated with a murderous armed group that wanted to seize power at any cost, never mind how many died as was witnessed in that infamous January 6, 1999 rape, plunder and sacking of the capital Freetown.

One-time Press Attache at the Sierra Leone High Commission in London Sorie Fofana in announcing the passing away of the former President noted -

Barely a month after celebrating his eighty-second birthday, Sierra Leone’s former head of state, Alhaji Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah passed away peacefully at his Juba residence in the west end of Freetown. President Kabbah ruled Sierra Leone from 1996 to 2002 when he gracefully bowed out after serving the mandatory two term limit. The late elderly statesman will be remembered for his nationalistic approach towards governance. He declared Sierra Leone’s civil war ended in 2002.

A family spokesman said the family will work with the government to plan the state funeral of the late head of state.

Tributes have started flowing in from all over the world. World leaders (both current and past) have started paying glowing tributes to the late former Sierra Leonean leader.

And the government, for its part, has declared seven day of national mourning starting tomorrow, Friday 14th March as well as ordering all flags to fly at half mast during this period as preparations are made to give the former President a fitting state funeral.

Indeed it was through the leadership and determination of the late President that Sierra Leone is now regarded by the United Nations and other peace-making organisations as a beacon on how to work towards peace and how to develop a country after the kind of brutal war that ravaged and savaged the country. It was through the wise leadership of the late President that Sierra Leone is now enjoying the kind of peaceful atmosphere that engenders democratic elections, development and makes for the country to join the committee of civilised nations.

However the road to peace was not that smooth. It was fraught with challenges that often saw the late President battling it out with his conscience, his close aides and his gut-feeling that concessions have to be made to get the guns of war silenced once and for all.

He achieved this in the midst of betrayals from within his own national army, an army he had taken the reins of governance from and whose key members never wanted a civilian to be head of state in 1996, not to talk of holding elections. He and the people held their ground and despite a "peace before election" campaign by pro-military supporters, those elections were held, emerging as winner after a strong showing by veteran politician, the late Dr John Karefa-Smart of the UNPP (Pan Lamp for you and us).

The late President though soft-spoken and slow to anger can be as hard as nails when confronted with issues that demanded his authority and unwavering stance. Take the case of the Wanza boat deal. He refused to honour the bill for a patrol boat that up to the time of writing in March 2014 had never landed on the shores of this country. The original deal, entered into by the NPRC, the military junta that handed over the reins of power after the 1996 elections raised quite a stir. MP's who are alleged to have been bribed by the man at the centre of the deal, one Wanza, came out with a report urging President Kabbah to pay up. It is reported that even his late wife Patricia was not spared as lobbyists warmed up to her to prevail on her husband to authorise payment.

He refused. That was the man. If he is convinced that he was on the right path, nothing would make him move an inch.

The present government is said to have parted with quite a whopping sum in paying for what is effectively a ghost ship a picture of which had never been seen by anyone except in the minds of the conspirators and outright thieves.

The late President had had some very controversial moments as leader of the nation. Supporters of the late Deputy Defence Minister, Chief Hinga Norman are of the considered view that he was betrayed by Tejan Kabbah for allowing him to be roped in for trial by the Special Court. Kabbah denied any such, pleading that he was not aware that the head of the pro-government armed Kamajor militia would be put on trial.

Watchers of events of the 90's, more so that which led to the ousting of his government in May 1997 say that it was his lack of leadership at such a crucial time that made the coup succeed after he revealed that he somehow knew three days before the event that it was going to be sprung.

The former President's submission at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2004 makes quite interesting reading -

The peace achieved at the end of the eleven years of war in this country can be sustained only if there is reconciliation among the people and if national reintegration is actively and successfully pursued. Thus reconciliation and national reintegration are necessary ingredients in the peace building process which we need to embark upon in order to avoid the recurrence of war. Therefore to promote reconciliation and national reintegration we need to understand what were the root causes of the war itself and how those root causes are to be eradicated for good. It is for this reason that I have deemed it necessary to take the Commission back to an appropriate point in the history of this country to narrate the events and elements which, in my view cumulatively gave rise to the war. It is also important to narrate the role played by some of the actors in that war, and how they subscribed to the causes of the war or to the war itself.

He told the TRC of his resolve to restore peace to war-torn Sierra Leone

"When I became President, I was very conscious of my political, constitutional and perhaps even moral obligation to strive hard and exert every effort to bring an early end to the war. The reasons for this were obvious.

The population had already become war-weary, and in spite of my knowledge of the state of the military and its inability or unwillingness to prosecute the war against the rebels, I had made the ending of the war my main campaign pledge. I made this pledge in the belief that by negotiations and sound reasoning I would be able to talk the rebels out of their hostile activities against the population, persuade them to enter into negotiations with the view of concluding a peace agreement with them. ...I was also convinced that with a civilian government other than the APC in power, the original stated rationale for the RUF taking up arms would have been eliminated and my new civilian government would be able to persuade them to lay down their arms. This conviction was based on the fact that the RUF had repeatedly stated that they embarked on armed struggle in order to oust the APC Government from power and to liberate the people of Sierra Leone from the perceived tyranny and corruption of that Government."

Here's a section that should be carefully heeded by the ruling APC, a party that created the atmosphere for Sierra Leone's first armed rebellion in the country's recent history -

"On my assumption of office in 1996, I was quite conscious that the military had been for long completely politicized by the previous civilian regime and that by their having been in power for over four years immediately before my election to office the same military had cherished the fact of having political power which they had used mainly to accumulate wealth. I was therefore aware that they would not be inclined to be loyal to my Government in the first place and would also detest to give up power easily and completely. .. They unsuccessfully mounted and orchestrated a campaign for "peace before elections" which was another way of perpetuating the junta in office. Through this campaign they even attempted to ingratiate themselves with the RUF by demonstrating to the RUF that the junta was prepared to delay the holding of elections so that it would forge a power sharing arrangement with the RUF, but that the problem was with the political parties as they were pressing for the holding of elections for the purpose of permanently excluding the RUF from participating in the governance of the country. In order to convince the population that "peace before elections" was a viable proposition, and in order to demonstrate to the RUF that the junta was sincere about its desire to bring the rebels into the Government, the NPRC organized a hastily arranged peace meeting with the RUF in Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast just before the date of the elections and the continuation of the meeting was adjourned to a date after the stated date for the elections."

The then national army's commitment to ending the war was made plain when civilians reported the involvement of armed men dressed in national colours attacking areas either as units or in collusion with RUF elements which saw them being labelled by civilians as so-bels, soldiers in the day time and rebels at night or whenever the change of identity was thought necessary.

This is what the President told the TRC

"On a number of occasions the army Chief and his men brought to me information about a successful military campaign by them which resulted in the routing or dislocation of the enemy and seizure or destruction of its logistics including even the killing of known rebel commanders. Such a false account was given to me in relation to a purported attack of government troops on a rebel camp in the provinces. In the report it was alleged that that camp was wholly destroyed, a large number of rebels including their commander, Superman, was killed. A photograph of a charred bed alleged to have been that of Superman was produced to me as proof of the truth of the contents of that report. Superman was one of the most hated of the rebel commanders as he was notorious for his unrelenting propensity to cause mayhem and carnage on the civilian population. As it turned out, the report was wholly untrue. The particular camp was never attacked by Government troops and it remained intact long after the Lome Peace Agreement in 1999. Superman himself remained alive for a long time after that report and he perished only in a brawl that ensued later within the ranks of the rebels themselves."

Here's another juicy bit of deception by the military -

"In the attempt of the security forces to furnish me with false intelligence reports, I had the experience of listening in the military network to a conversation between two military officers one giving a glowing account of a very successful exploit by the Government troops against the rebels. This conversation became the subject of a Situation Report (Sitrep), which was presented to me in order to give the impression that the military's conduct of the war against the rebels deserved to be commended. It turned out that the contents of that Sitrep did not bear any reality to any event at all, but that the two officers who were in conversation were each in different rooms of State House."

The late President did not end his submission without a swipe at the gadfly of all politicians - the press.

"Indeed the Government fully subscribes to the freedom of the press. This is an important institution, which enhances the practice of democracy and helps in the promotion of good governance. The hallmark of a democratic society is the existence of a free press with the ability to expose the excesses of the government and of persons in authority. What is objectionable however, about the conduct of certain sections of the Sierra Leone Press is their unwarranted and unjustified attack on the personality and character of individuals. Some journalists do this without regard to the ethics that govern their profession and often for mean and malicious reasons. They write as facts what they know is untrue and without regard to the effect their publications would have on the reputation of those they write about. Such attitude does not promote reconciliation, especially in a country like ours just emerging from war."

The former President recently put his thoughts on record in a memoir titled "Coming Back From the Brink" in which reviewer Lans Gberie touched on a number of issues highlighted in the publication. There was the question of the Beoku-Betts Commission of Inquiry findings which had been given various interpretations, most of which were far from the truth. He stated

"Kabbah is understandably tetchy while narrating this part, omitting even the quotes from the Commission...He writes, plausibly, that there was a case of mistaken identity in Commissioner Beoku-Betts’ rebuke of him. That the ambience was one of vindictiveness and political skullduggery, could be seen in the fact that Prime Minister Siaka Stevens, who the junta handed power to, seized Kabbah’s property – a house and land in the west end of Freetown – though the Beoku-Betts Commission had not recommended that action. In 1974, Kabbah began petitioning the government to return his property; this was only done when the then attorney general, Abdulai O. Conteh, reviewed the Commission’s findings and Kabbah’s petitions, and concluded that “a combination of errors, flawed actions, etc, have unfortunately militated against Mr Kabbah” and that Kabbah’s “constitutional and fundamental protective rights” had been violated. Kabbah’s property was restored on 20 May 1988 by the government, which effectively repudiated the Commission’s findings against him."


There are some die-hard supporters of the AFRC/RUF coalition of evil otherwise known as the beasts who had long wanted the former President dead even before God's appointed time. During the dark days of the nation when rebel forces were using all ways and means to seize power by force of arms and sheer terror, sections of the AFRC/RUF press published all manner of ill-will on his health with some key "journalists" invoking all kinds of terminal illnesses on him. Even after he'd left power and was doing less of his international duty tours, reports kept popping up every now and then about his demise - something which got Sorie Fofana in a recent article headlined - "Stop Killing Pa Kabbah!" in which he stated -

"Rumour mongering has become a dangerous pastime in Sierra Leone. Since the 82-year-old former President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah fell ill, and, was flown to the United Kingdom for advanced medical treatment, rumour mongers have had a field day. Even though the former head of state remains alive, his death has been propagated across the world by some dangerous rumour mongers. Nobody is denying the fact that President Kabbah is sick. After all, even President Kabbah himself knows that he will one day have to return to his maker. But this idea of spreading falsehood about the old man’s health is a very dangerous thing to do. Instead of praying for the man, some people want him gone now."

Well the old man is now dead showing that all of us being mere mortal would one day heed the call to the great beyond.

We pray that Allah grant him peace, the peace which only He can give.



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