Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio reacts during the 64th Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Head of States and Government ordinary session in Abuja on December 10, 2023. (Photo by Kola Sulaimon / AFP)
(AFP) – A West African delegation led by the leaders of Senegal and Ghana were in Sierra Leone on Saturday to lay the groundwork for a “security mission” in the wake of an alleged coup attempt in November.
On November 26, armed attackers stormed a military armoury, two barracks, two prisons and two police stations, clashing with security forces.
Twenty-one people were killed and hundreds of prisoners escaped before authorities were able to regain control after what they deemed a coup attempt by members of the armed forces.
The violence sparked fears of another coup in West Africa, where Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Guinea have all experienced putsches since 2020.
A recent summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) launched the delegation to “facilitate the deployment of a security mission to Sierra Leone to help stabilise the country”.
“After the heinous attempt to overthrow the democratically elected government on November 26, ECOWAS considered that the region must be protected and decided to send a stabilisation mission to Sierra Leone,” the country’s Foreign Minister Timothy Kabba said in a radio interview late Friday.
He insisted that the ECOWAS force would not be a military intervention, noting similar forces in Gambia and Guinea Bissau.
“We have a very competent army that suppressed the insurgents — in no way does this impinge on Sierra Leone‘s sovereignty,” Kabba said.
Senegal’s President Macky Sall and Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo are both in Freetown to discuss the security situation with Sierra Leone‘s President Julius Maada Bio, their offices said.
Sierra Leone authorities on Wednesday lifted the curfew that was imposed in the wake of the November 26 clashes.
© Agence France-Presse