Sierra Leone: Ex-President Koroma indicted for alleged role in “coup attempt”

Former Sierra Leonean President Ernest Baï Koroma, who led the country from 2007 to 2018, was indicted on Wednesday January 3 for his alleged role in the events of November 26, 2023, described as an “attempted coup d’état " by the government

Sierra Leone: Ex-President Koroma indicted for alleged role in “coup attempt”

Former Sierra Leonean President Ernest Baï Koroma, who led the country from 2007 to 2018, was indicted on Wednesday January 3 for his alleged role in the events of November 26, 2023, described as an “attempted coup d’état " by the government. “The former president is charged with four offenses, including ‘treason’ and ‘concealment of treason,’” said a government statement signed by Information Minister Chernor A. Bah.

In the early hours of November 26, men attacked a military armory, two other barracks, two prisons and two police stations, confronting security forces with guns drawn. The fighting left 21 dead, 14 soldiers, a police officer, a prison guard, a security guard, a woman and three attackers, according to the information minister.

At least eighty people were arrested in connection with these events, mainly soldiers, according to the authorities.

Mr. Koroma was until then only a “suspect” in the organization of the events of November 26 and had been questioned several times by the police. Since December 9, he has been placed under a regime similar to house arrest. “The former president is on his way home,” one of his lawyers, Ady Macauley, told AFP. The matter was adjourned to January 17, he added. A major security system was put in place around the Freetown court where Mr. Koroma was questioned.

On Tuesday, Sierra Leonean justice indicted twelve alleged perpetrators of "attempted coup d'état", including Amadu Koïta, a former soldier and bodyguard of Mr. Koroma, widely followed on social networks where he criticized the president's government Julius Maada Bio, according to police.

Exile in Nigeria

On December 23, a high-level delegation from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), led by the Senegalese and Ghanaian presidents, met Mr. Koroma and current President Julius Maada Bio.

According to Sheriff Mahmud Ismail, advisor to Mr. Koroma, the ex-president is in discussions for exile in Nigeria, a heavyweight in the region which currently holds the presidency of ECOWAS, he told AFP before the announcement of the indictment.

During the organization’s latest summit, regional heads of state committed the commission to “facilitate the deployment of an ECOWAS security mission to Sierra Leone to help stabilize the country.”

According to the head of Sierra Leone's diplomacy, "ECOWAS has developed an Ecomog (West African peace force) logistics and supply depot in Lungi", a town north of Freetown, which has been completed and will be put into operation. service in January. The stabilization force is “not a military intervention force”, “it is a peace protection mission”, underlined Mr. Kabba. The curfew in place since the events of November 26 was lifted on December 20.

The West African region has been marked since 2020 by the multiplication of coups d'état, in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Guinea, and by several putsch attempts.