Briefing from ROAPE Volume 24 Number 72
Sierra Leone: The Militariat Strikes Again
West Africa has seen a number of attempted and successful coup d'etats in the 1990s led by relatively junior officers and ‘other ranks’ who have claimed populist or transformatory goals on assuming office but have failed to live up to these early expectations. Such coups are described by Jimmy Kandeh as a product of the ‘militariat’ , a social group within the military who lack the clientelist ties of more senior officers (Kandeh, 1996). The regimes they create, led by figures such as Yaya Jammeh in The Gambia from 1994, and Valentine Strasser in Sierra Leone from 1992-1996, are prone to institutional instability and some orchestrated political violence. Populist rhetoric does not turn into the creation of new participatory institutions. The long-term effects of such regimes may involve the decline of state capacity, the almost complete undermining of military discipline, and what Allen has described as ‘spoils-based collapse’ (Allen, 1995).