Sierra Leone charged 12 individuals in connection with a failed coup attempt, according to a Wednesday statement from Minister of Information and Civic Education Chernor Bah. Among the accused is Amadu Koita, a former soldier and bodyguard to ex-President Ernest Bai Koroma.
The charges encompass a range of offenses, including treason, misprision of treason, harbouring and aiding and abetting the enemy. Koita and his 11 co-defendants are the first to face legal consequences. However, the statement added that “other accused persons are expected to be charged in the coming days.”
The attempted coup on November 26, 2023, saw several gunmen launch attacks on various critical locations in Freetown, including the military armory at Wilberforce Barracks and a prison. The assailants managed to free approximately 2,200 inmates and kill more than 20 people in the process. Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio subsequently declared a nationwide curfew. He also later announced the arrest of most of the attack’s leaders and declared that calm had been restored to the country.
The failed coup followed months of social unrest from the controversial June 2023 presidential election. President Bio, representing the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), secured victory with a 56.17 percent majority vote. However, the election result faced scrutiny and rejection from his main rival, Samura Kamara of the All People’s Congress (APC), who garnered 41.16 percent. Kamara contested the result, citing a lack of transparency, and called for a thorough investigation into the electoral process.
This incident occurred against the backdrop of a troubling surge in military coups across the region, with six African countries experiencing such takeovers in the past three years. Included among those countries are Gabon and Niger, whose respective coups both occurred in 2023.