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Last Updated: Monday, 2 May, 2005, 10:52 GMT 11:52 UK
S Leone ex-leader to fight poll
Valentine Strasser
Strasser did not fulfil his pledge to end the civil war
Sierra Leone's former military leader Valentine Strasser has said he wants to contest elections due in May next year.

He said he had formed the People's Redemption Party and hoped to register it in time for the presidential poll.

Mr Strasser seized power in 1992 at the age of 25, becoming Africa's youngest head of state. He was deposed in another coup four years later.

Under a UN-brokered deal, he studied politics at a UK university but failed to complete the course.

At a news conference in the capital, Freetown, Mr Strasser complained that the government refused to pay him the benefits due to former presidents because he had never been elected.

"I don't enjoy any privileges whatsoever under the constitution, as someone who once served this country in high office," he said.

Trial urged

Sierra Leoneans had hoped Mr Strasser's coup might end a war that broke out in 1991, but his regime failed to either defeat or reach a deal with the rebels.

His reaction to an attempted coup by former army officers in December 1992 led to international condemnation.

Nine suspected coup plotters and 17 other prisoners were executed.

Amnesty International has demanded that he stand trial for alleged murder and torture.

In 2001, the Sierra Leone government urged people to stop jeering and throwing stones at him.

After his downfall, multi-party elections saw Ahmad Tejan Kabbah become president.

President Kabbah was re-elected in 2002 after the 10-year war was declared over.

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