CONFLICT AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION IN WEST AFRICA: THE ECOMOG EXPERIENCE IN SIERRA LEONE


Content

ABSTRACT

For the purpose of clarity and understanding, this research work shall be divided into five chapters. Chapter to introduction and background to the whole study. This include the statement of problem, objectives of study, significance of study, scope and limitation of study, sources of data and the organization of study.

Chapter two provides the literature review. Here, the concepts of conflict and conflict resolution are extensively conceptualized and analyzed. Chapter three is the research methodology and an. update on conflict in Africa as a whole.

Chapter four is the analysis of conflict in Sierra Leone. This chapter examines the intervention of ECOWAS in the crisis and the evaluation of this intervention towards ensuring the resolution of the conflict.

Chapter five is the 6onclusion and summary of the whole research work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

                                                                                                                                    PAGES

Title Page

Certification

Dedication               

Acknowledgement

Abstract

Table of Contents

 

Chapter One:           Introduction

Background to the Study 

Statement of Problem      

Objectives of the Study

Significance of Study

Scope and Limitation of Study

Sources of Data

Endnotes

 

Chapter Two:           Literature Review

The Theory of Conflict

Conflict Management

Analysis of Conflict Resolution

Endnotes

 

 

Chapter Three:        Research Methodology

Genesis of the Sierra Leonean Crisis

The Immediate Causes of Sierra Leonean Conflict

The Immediate Causes of Sierra Leonean Conflict

Endnotes

 

Chapter Four:          Data Analysis

The Intervention of ECOWAS in the Sierra Leonean Conflict

The Lome Peace Agreement

Personal Interview Questions and Responses

Tile ECQWAS Intervention: An Appraisal

Endnotes

 

Chapter Five:           Summary, Recommendation and Conclusion

Summary

Recommendation and Conclusion

Bibliography: Primary Source

Bibliography: Secondary Source

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

 

 

Background to the Study

The nature of international relations is such that is characterized with struggle or competition among international actors who are driven and guided by their personal interest. This however, results in conflict to which several measures, institutional; organizational and personal, have been put in place to address.

Conflict is one the most important phenomenon in international relations and it is a subject of great concern to international relations scholars and experts. Scholars in international relations have been preoccupied for years with trying to understand the causes of conflict in the international system, particularly its rampant and attendant problem in the sub-Saharan Africa. However, it is generally assumed or accepted that unless the causes of conflict are known, the solution may be farfetched. In most cases, conflict in. international system is a means for achieving a particular end, it is an instrument which can be used for different purposes which could either be good or bad, most of the time in international system, conflict could end in uplifting a people and right the wrongs of the past while creating a new social order that would enable the people involved to live happily.

On the other hand, conflict could be used for adverse purposes, it could be used to deprive others of their right and it could be used to create misery and devastation of great proportion. Nonetheless, conflict has become part and parcel of human existence, particularly, human's social characteristics.

The rate at which Africa has become engulfed in conflicts in the last one and half decades seems to be worrisome, not only to Africans, but also to the international community. Since the mid-1980s, countries in Africa have been battling and  struggling with one another over several issues in conflicts to the extent that it monopolized the attention of the international community on the continent searching for solutions to these conflicts. The nature of these conflicts ranges from border/territorial disputes, cultural/historical differences, and wars of liberation and independence struggles and lately internal civil strives of different dimensions. Although, it may be argued that, conflict is not a new phenomenon in Africa however, the last twenty years have seen a disturbing rate in armed conflicts.

From the great Lakes region, to the Horn of Africa to West Africa, there are serious conflicts raging. Countries like Sudan, Somalia, and the Republic of the Congo, Cote D'Ivoire, and Burundi are still engaged in war, while Sierra Leone, Liberia, Rwanda, and Ethiopia are in the immediate post war phase, with a fragile and compromised peace process. Whereas, in other countries, like Zimbabwe and Nigeria, the threat of peace reigning in the most .populous country in West Africa, signifies that the region is in serious conflict situation and requires collective efforts in finding lasting solutions to these conflicts.

The changing nature of these conflicts from inter-state conflict to intra-state conflicts seems to be adapting (though negatively) to the changing nature of the international political system. As a matter of fact, the era of inter-state conflicts in Africa were not as controversial and worrisome as the current intra-state conflicts. This has left millions of people dead (with hundreds of thousands of them slaughtered) and over 9.5 millions of people as refugees in different parts of the continent. If this scale of destruction and fighting were in Europe, it would be termed World War III with the entire World rushing to report, provide aid, mediate and otherwise try to diffuse the situations.

The prevalence of wars and conflicts in Africa makes the issues of management and resolution arduous challenges on the continent. The United Nations, African Union and ECOWAS are engaged in peacekeeping projects in Africa. In the 1994s, Africa was a recipient of over sixty per cent of the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations in the World, with many of these efforts concentrated in West Africa. A large chunk of the efforts and resources of ECOWAS are being consumed in peacekeeping and peace support operations, including sending observer missions to conflict areas. This has continued up till the present time.

The Sierra Leonean crisis was another serious crisis that challenged the corporate existence of Africa as a continent in general and West Africa in particular. The inhuman treatment that characterized the Sierra Leonean crisis made it a worse scenario in the sub-region. Tracing the genesis of the crisis may not be useful here but we need to acknowledge that the conflict that broke out in Sierra Leone in 1991 had remote causes. There was high degree of political instability in the country resulting from different military coups and counter coups. Since 1961 when Sierra Leone became independent, attempt to have smooth process of succession had eluded the country just like any other country in the continent. The failure to have a free and fair election during the parliamentary elections of 1967 resulted in serious crisis in the country and the subsequent military coup in the country. By 1968, this military regime was overthrown by Siaka Stevens through a civilian uprising. Stevens manipulated the constitution of the country to arrogate power to himself and ensure that his opponents were dealt with. In ensuring this, he proscribed the United Democratic Party (UDP) and jailed its officers. The Military Force Commander in the country, John Bangura, was also arrested with other officers believed to be unloyal to his administration. These officers were rounded up, accused of a coup plot and were subsequently executed. In this same manner, a relative of John Bangura, Foday Sankoh, who was a Corporal in the Army and a photographer was also implicated in the coup plot and was jailed in 1971.

Sierra Leone, like any other African country, has about seventeen ethnic groups with two of them standing out as the largest groups. The Temne occupies large sections of the northern region, and the Mende dominates the South and Eastern part of the country. Together, Mende and Temne account for roughly 60 percent of the country's population. The Temne and Mende have been dominant players in the political life of Sierra Leone before and since independence and political leaders from both groups have often appealed to their kith and kin for support. Other important ethnic groups are Krio, who inhabit the Western area; the Limba, sometimes dominant in All People's Congress, and the Koko, whose homeland in the far east of Sierra Leone is rich in diamonds. Factionalization and ethnicity dominated the political scene in the country soon after the independence. This also played out in the composition of the military and the police thus destroying the small, well trained and professional military inherited from the British after the independence.

The outbreak of the civil war in Sierra Leone started with the taking over of government by Joseph Momoh from Siaka Stevens from the same All People's Congress (APC). There was wide belief that the newly introduced APC government of Momoh will right the wrongs committed by Stevens APC but instead, it became business as usual. Under the regime of Momoh, Sierra Leone started to have its problem with Liberia with whom its shares border. In his search for a staging post to invade Liberia, Charles Taylor visited Sierra Leone in 1989, reportedly contacted and gave money to senior members in the Momoh's APC government as incentive for granting him permission to operate from Sierra Leone soil.

However, this became impossible as ECOMOG chose to use Sierra Leone as its base to intervene in the Liberia's civil war. This did not go down well with Charles Taylor, who was jailed briefly in Sierra Leone while trying to force his will on the Sierra Leonean government headed by Momoh. Consequently, Charles Taylor assisted Foday Sankoh's Revolutionary United front (RUF), the main rebel force that began fighting the Sierra Leonean Government in early 1991. With Taylor's backing, a small band of RUF rebels, invaded eastern Sierra Leone from Liberia in March 199.1 and launched a campaign to overthrow the All People's Congress Party of Sierra Leone, which had ruled the country for 24 years. Unfortunately, President Momoh's response to the initial insurgency was both ineffective and unpopular with the Sierra Leone Army (SLA).

Momoh's government failed to equip the troops with adequate logistic support neither: does it considers negotiating with the rebels. It is important to note that Foday Sankoh's Revolutionary United Front invaded Sierra Leone from territory controlled by the NPFL. Also, the RUF forces initially contained a lot of mercenaries provided by Charles Taylor. Apart from this, it must be pointed out that Taylor had other reasons for supporting the RUF. He wanted unlimited access to the rich agricultural and diamondiferous lands in Southern Sierra Leone, in order to pay for his elaborate war machine in Liberia. However,  the rebels did not succeed in gaining power until 1997, after six years of civil war and three military coups. By April 1992, a group of junior SLA officers overthrew Momoh's government and a 27 years old Captain Valentine Strasser became the Chairman of the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC). With Strasser in power, it became evident that no regime could basically and fundamentally resolve the problem of the country. Therefore, Strasser turned to others for security assistance, including Nigeria as well as the Kamajors, a Sierra Leonean militia. Also, the civil populace resulted to traditional institutions to protect civilians against the deadly ‘messiahs', the uneducated and undisciplined government troops on the one hand and the unspeakably cruel and merciless RUF on the other hand). It was under this tension that in January 1996, the Chief of Defence Staff in Strasser's regime, Brigadier-General Julius Maada Bio, took over the reign of government. In what looked like the choice of the people, Bio organized election as stipulated to hold in February 1996 and Ahmed Teejan Kabbah became the elected President of Sierra Leone. One year after the election of Teejan Kabbah as the President of Sierra Leone, the nation was still at war. The situation was getting even worse with the war getting ever more savaged. Although Kabbah may have had democratic legitimacy, he had little power. His position was further weakened after the Executive outcome withdrew in January 1997. Therefore, by May 1997, Major Johnny Paul Koroma chased the government of President Kabbah out of the country under the guise of Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRO). The AFRC joined alliances with the RUF and members of the rebel group were appointed to senior positions in the new government. The Koroma coup coincided with the Organization of African Unity (OAU) reign ministers' Summit in Harare. The Summit strongly condemned the coup. The then OAU Chairman, President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe expressed support for what he termed the ‘noble mission' of ECOWAS in Sierra Leone.

 

Statement of Problem

While it may be argued that conflict is part of the social process in any part of the world, its resolution should not be overwhelming that lives and properties are lost in magnitude without consideration for its devastating effects. It is not out of place to embark on conflict for social change, but where it becomes impossible to resolve conflict amicably among people of the same historical background, it goes a long way to tell the weakening nature of the state and its institutions.

It is important to note that the struggle to resolve the enormous conflict situation in West Africa has deprived the sub-region of certain developmental progress with enormous resources, both human and material lost in the process. Therefore, it is imperative to understand the nature of conflict in West Africa which makes it so much difficult to tackle.

Apart From this, the cause(s) of these conflicts in West Africa should be understood in order to be able to proffer adequate mechanism to resolve the conflicts.

 

Objectives of the Study

The main aim of this research work is to understand the causes of conflicts in West. Africa in order to understand why it is difficult for the sub-region to find lasting solution to these conflicts. However, the specific objectives include the following:

·       To examine the nature of conflict in West Africa

·       To examine the various mechanisms put in place by ECOWAS to resolve the conflicts in West Africa with greater emphasis on the Sierra Leone crisis.

·       To highlight the various challenges confronting ECOWAS in its bid to find lasting solution to the conflict situation in the sub-region.

 

Significance of Study

The study will help in enlightening the public, particularly students of conflict and peace studies, to have a broader understanding of the causes of conflict in West Africa.

The study will help decision makers to understand the rationale behind the -nature of conflict in West Africa and as a result be able to facilitate the necessary mechanism towards resolving these conflicts.

The study will add to the existing literature on the subject of conflict and conflict resolution. 

 

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

The research will be written with materials obtained from secondary sources. Thus, textbooks, monographs, journals, newspapers and magazines will be given prominence in this work.

 

Scope and Limitation of Study

This study examines the causes of conflict in sub-Saharan Africa as a whole with emphasis on West Africa. This is because the nature of conflict in Africa and West Africa has shown that the region and the sub-region are the most affected in the whole process of conflict resolution in the world. However, the study focus on ECOMOG experience in Sierra Leone.

The study is limited by the inability to access classified documents and heavy reliance on secondary sources.

 

Sources of Data

The sources of data for this research mainly Secondary sources. This means that information gathering from the use of published textbooks, journals, monographs, mimeographs, newspapers, magazines and bulletins.

The library of Lagos State University, the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs shall be extensively used in this regard.

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