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Faith Nyasuguta

Over the weekend, Sierra Leone experienced a series of attacks on military barracks and prisons, now confirmed by officials as a failed coup attempt. Information Minister Chernor Bah revealed that 13 military officers and one civilian have been arrested in connection with the incident.

Bah stated on Tuesday, “The incident was a failed attempted coup. The intention was to illegally subvert and overthrow a democratically elected government. The attempt failed, and plenty of the leaders are either in police custody or on the run. We will try to capture them and bring them to the full force of the laws of Sierra Leone.”

Inspector General of Police William Fayia Sellu confirmed that the attempted coup “failed in the early hours of the 26th of November.” He informed reporters that a group of individuals had attempted to forcibly “unseat” the government.

Photographs of 32 men and two women are being circulated by the police, identifying them as individuals sought in connection with the unrest. This group includes both serving and retired soldiers and police, as well as civilians.

The attacks resulted in at least 20 deaths, with around 2,200 people escaping from the prisons that were targeted. President Julius Maada Bio confirmed on Sunday that “most of the leaders” of the attack had been arrested, and efforts would continue to pursue the rest. 

The casualties include 13 soldiers, three assailants, a police officer, a civilian, and a private security worker. Eight people sustained serious injuries.

Since the contested election in June, tensions in Sierra Leone have been escalating. President Bio won re-election amidst concerns about the election’s transparency raised by European Union observers and United States officials. 

The opposition, led by Samura Kamara of the All People’s Congress (APC), rejected the results, asserting that the election lacked credibility.

In addition to political tensions, Sierra Leone has grappled with the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Sierra Leone’s Vice President Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh visits the central Pademba Road prison after unidentified fighters attacked a military barracks and the prison, in Freetown, Sierra Leone, on November 27 (Umaru)

Last August, police opened fire on demonstrators protesting soaring food prices. Presently, checkpoints have emerged in Freetown, schools and banks remain closed, and a curfew is in effect from dusk until dawn, indicating the ongoing tensions in the country.

Several countries in West and Central Africa are currently under military rule after a series of recent coups. These include Sierra Leone’s neighbour Guinea as well as Mali, Niger and Chad

West African bloc Ecowas said on Tuesday it was primed to deploy regional support to “strengthen national security” in Sierra Leone.

Similarly, Nigerian national security adviser Malam Nuhu Ribadu warned that “anything that will interfere with democracy, peace, security and stability of Sierra Leone will not be accepted by Ecowas and by Nigeria”.


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Faith Nyasuguta

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