Monday, May 02, 2005

The Nigerian legacy in Sierra Leone?

Chippla's blog has often complained about the excessive influence of former military dictators on Nigeria's political scene. Two of them, Olesegun Obasanjo and Muhammadu Buhari, were the main contenders in the country's most recent presidential election. The extremely destructive Ibrahim Babangida is considered a leading contender for the 2007 race. Thank goodness Sani Abacha is no longer on this Earth.

Could Sierra Leone's fragile sort-of democracy be headed down the same path? It will if Valentine Strasser has anything to say about it. In 1992, then Capt. Strasser overthrew Gen. Joseph Momoh under the pretext of ending the civil war that had started the previous year. At 25, he was the youngest African head of state. He so violently repressed a late 1992 coup attempt that it led to international condemnation. He promised to hold democratic elections but was overthrown by even more junior army officials when it was thought that Strasser was going to reneg on the elections promise.

Now, he reportedly wants to contest next year's presidential poll.

He is so beloved by his countrymen that In 2001, the Sierra Leone government urged people to stop jeering and throwing stones at him, notes the BBC.


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