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Thursday, 31 August, 2000, 13:23 GMT 14:23 UK
Sierra Leone timeline

Independence

April 27 1961: Sierra Leone, formerly a British colony, gains independence.

April 29 1992: Captain Valentine Strasser, aged 26, ousts President Joseph Momoh in a military coup, months after the country voted in a referendum for the creation of a multi-party system. In response to international pressure, Captain Strasser announces plans for the first multi-party elections since 1967.

February 1996: Elections, organised by the military junta that toppled Captain Strasser in a palace coup, results in victory for Ahmed Tejan Kabbah's Sierra Leone People's Party.

May 25 1997: Major General Johnny Paul Koroma deposes President Kabbah in a military coup, suspends the constitution, bans demonstrations, and abolishes political parties. Kabbah flees to Guinea to mobilise international support.

July 1997: The Commonwealth suspends Sierra Leone.

President reinstated

8 October 1997: The United Nations Security Council imposes sanctions against Sierra Leone, barring the supply of arms and petroleum products. A British company, Sandline, nonetheless supplies "logistical support", including rifles, to Kabbah allies.

February 1998: The Nigerian-led West African intervention force, Ecomog, storms Freetown.

  • Nigerian troops storm Freetown
  • Ecomog consolidates control

    10 March 1998: President Kabbah makes a triumphant return to Freetown amid scenes of public rejoicing.

  • Jubilant homecoming for Sierra Leone president
  • Democracy returns to Sierra Leone

    January 1999: Rebels backing Foday Sankoh seize parts of Freetown from Ecomog. After weeks of bitter fighting they are driven out, leaving behind a devastated city.

  • Rebels enter Sierra Leone capital
  • Freetown bears the scars

    February 1999: An inquiry in the UK into the supply of weapons to Kabbah supporters by the British company, Sandline - at the time of a UN embargo - is highly critical of civil servants and ministers.

  • Arms report pulls no punches

    Fragile peace

    May 18 1999: A ceasefire is greeted with cautious optimism in Freetown. In hospitals and amputee camps, victims of rebel atrocities express hope that eight years of civil war may soon be over.

  • First step to peace

    17 July 1999: Six weeks of talks in the Togolese capital, Lome, result in a peace agreement, under which the rebels receive posts in government and assurances that they will not be prosecuted for war crimes.

  • Peace deal signed
  • Text of peace accord

    UN under attack

    November/December 1999:UN troops arrive to police the peace agreement - but one rebel leader, Sam Bokari, says they are not welcome. Meanwhile, Ecomog troops are attacked outside Freetown.

  • UN troops arrive in Sierra Leone
  • Rebels clash with UN troops

    January 2000: The UN faces difficulties deploying troops in the north of the country, and rebel chief Foday Sankoh says the UN has no business in Sierra Leone - a remark which causes amazement in the UN mission.

  • Sierra Leone rebel chief scorns UN
  • Rebels block UN troops

    February 2000: A UN report says rebel atrocities are continuing, with abduction, rape and house-burning an almost daily occurrence.

  • Rape, mutilation continue in Sierra Leone

    April/May 2000: UN forces come under attack in the east of the country, but far worse is in store when first 50, then 300 UN troops are abducted.

  • UN attacked in Sierra Leone
  • UN condemns rebels
  • Hostage crisis deepens

    Rebels retreat

    May 2000: The rebels are once again forced onto the defensive as leader Foday Sankoh is captured, Britain announces a military assistance plan for the government, and the captured UN soldiers are released.

  • Foday Sankoh captured
  • Britain's plan
  • Last UN troops released
  • Army takes key town

    June-July 2000: The British military task-force sent to help restore order departs, leaving behind a training force and UN troops surrounded by rebels are freed in a dramatic rescue effort.

  • UK forces pull out
  • Key rebel town recaptured
  • 200 UN troops rescued

    August 2000:The UN agree to pursue rebels through an international tribunal, the government say detained rebel leader Foday Sankoh has been replaced by a young commander and 11 British troops are captured by a renegade militia group.

  • UN agree to war crimes trials
  • Sankoh 'replaced' as rebel leader
  • UK army hostages captured

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