Freetown, SIERRA LEONE – The Institute of Governance Reform (IGR), in its latest report following the November 26th, 2023 failed coup attempt, has unveiled findings indicating no involvement of any political party in orchestrating the attack.
Titled “The violence entrepreneurs: Understanding the Actors and Incentives behind the November 26 Failed Coup,” the report was disclosed to journalists on Monday, December 11th, 2023, at the IGR’s office in Freetown.
The report’s core conclusion highlighted that although specific members of political parties might be linked as suspects, there exists no evidence that the November 26 incident was executed by a political party, ethnic group, or regional faction. Instead, the event appears to have been an endeavor orchestrated by recognized ‘violence entrepreneurs’ seeking to seize control of the state for their personal gains, akin to the events of 1997. Political party sentiments, ethnicity, and economic hardships were exploited as tools to garner public support while masking their true intent—seizing power and exploiting state resources.
The IGR emphasized that the localized violence witnessed on November 26 and various incidents in recent years depict Sierra Leoneans battling adversaries dwelling within their own communities. Utilizing social science methodologies and both primary and secondary evidence, the IGR aimed to analyze incentives and propose solutions following the failed coup.
Expressing grave concern, Andrew Lavalie, Executive Director of IGR, highlighted the breach of the armory by armed individuals, leading to the theft of a significant arsenal—a critical blow to the country’s security sector. He lamented the sector’s inability, two decades post-civil war, to effectively address high-security threats within the nation.
Lavalie stressed the urgency to investigate the intrusion into the armory, resulting in the tragic deaths of 18 security personnel and the release of inmates at the Male and Female Correctional Centre, underscoring the imperative to bolster the security sector.
Despite arrests made in connection with the November 26th attack, Lavalie reiterated that the incident was not orchestrated along political party lines.
The report cautioned about a potent network of anti-democratic forces, both domestic and foreign, capable of jeopardizing the nation’s peace and security for personal gains. It also highlighted the impact of access to information technology and social media in fostering deception, cohesion, and violence, emphasizing that the demand and supply of violence transcend party and regional boundaries.
In their recommendations, the IGR called upon the government to maintain professionalism in addressing individuals responsible for violence, in adherence to legal and human rights standards. Additionally, political party leaders were urged to reflect on their damaged image and leadership due to their inadvertent facilitation of violence entrepreneurs, emphasizing the need for constructive engagement and policy-focused voter mobilization.
Lavalie concluded by affirming that many Sierra Leoneans hold democracy in high esteem as the only legitimate means for a government to be replaced, underscoring the importance of upholding democratic values within the nation. MJB/122/12/2023