On 19 April 1971

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On 19 April 1971

Post  kosovohp on Fri Oct 29, 2010 11:36 pm

On 19 April 1971, parliament declared Sierra Leone a republic, with Siaka Stevens as president and Sorie Ibrahim Koroma as Vice President. Under the APC regimes headed by Stevens, the Limba, Stevens' own ethnic group and the Creoles, enjoyed strong influence in the government and civil service. Another major ethnic group, the Temne joined the Mende in opposition to the APC government. But after Stevens appointed an ethnic Temne, Sorie Ibrahim Koroma as vice-president, the Temne appeared to have emerged as an influential group in the APC government. Guinean troops requested by Stevens to support his government were in the country from 1971 to 1973. In May 1973, general elections were held throughout the country, but the main opposition, the SLPP, boycotted the 1973 general election, alleging widespread intimidation and procedural obstruction.

In 1973, president Stevens and president William Tolbert of Liberia signed a treaty forming the Mano River Union to facilitate trade between Sierra Leone and Liberia, with Guinea joining in 1980 under president Sekou Toure. In 1975, Sierra Leone joined the Economic Community of West African States (commonly known as ECOWAS).

An alleged plot to overthrow president Stevens failed in 1974 and its leaders were executed. In March 1976, Stevens was elected without opposition for a second five-year term as president. On 19 July 1975, 14 senior army and government officials including Brigadier David Lansana, former cabinet minister Mohamed Sorie Forna, Brigadier General Ibrahim Bash Taqi and Lieutenant Habib Lansana Kamara were executed after being convicted for allegedly attempting a coup to topple president Stevens' government.

In early 1977, a major anti-government demonstration by students and youth occurred throughout the country against the APC government and deteriorating economic conditions. Police and the army put down the demonstration.

In the national parliamentary election of May 1977, the APC won 74 seats and the main opposition, the SLPP, won 15. The SLPP condemned the election, alleged widespread vote-rigging and voter intimidation. In 1978, the APC dominant parliament approved a new constitution making the country a one-party state. The 1978 referendum made the APC the only legal political party in Sierra Leone. This move lead to another major demonstration in many parts of the country but again it was put down by the army and the police.

Stevens is generally criticised for dictatorial methods and government corruption, but reduced ethnic polarisation in government by incorporating members of various ethnic groups into his all-dominating APC government.

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