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Sierra Leone: Former President Charged With Treason

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Ernest Bai Koroma, the former president of Sierra Leone, was charged on Wednesday by a court in the country’s capital, Freetown, with four offences, including treason, for his alleged involvement in an unsuccessful military attempt to overthrow the government of the West African nation in November.

Following the attempted coup and a controversial election in which President Julius Maada Bio was reelected for a second term in June 2023, the court’s ruling may heighten tensions in Sierra Leone.

In the nation still healing from a civil war that claimed over 50,000 lives between 1991 and 2002, tensions have been rising. The leading opposition candidate rejected the election results, and foreign allies like the US and the EU expressed doubts about them.

On November 26, gunmen opened fire on military barracks, a prison, and other targets in Sierra Leone, freeing roughly 2,200 prisoners and leaving over 20 people dead.

Later on, the government claimed that Koroma’s bodyguards were primarily responsible for the aborted coup. At the beginning of December, they called the former president in for an interview.

Shortly after the attacks, the ex-president issued a statement denouncing them.

As Koroma stood in the dock, his charges—which also include two counts of harbouring and misprision of treason—were read aloud, causing some of his supporters to cry in the courtroom.

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