AFRICA/SIERRA LEONE - Suspected mastermind of failed coup attempt arrested

Thursday, 7 December 2023 coup   military  

Freetown (Agenzia Fides) - With the arrest of the former bodyguard of former President Ernest Bai Koroma and two police officers accused of having offered him refuge, the number of people arrested in Sierra Leone for the alleged coup of November 26 has reached 60 (see Fides, 28/11/2023).
Amadu Koita, who served as Ernest Bai Koroma's companion during his presidency that ended five years ago, was arrested on December 4 along with two police officers who were said to have harbored him. Koita was described by Sierra Leonean authorities as "one of the organizers of the coup attempt." Koita, who moved to London in the last four years, has a large following on social media, where he has criticized the government of current President Julius Maada Bio. People close to him say he secretly left London to visit his sick mother in Guinea and that he may have decided to enter Sierra Leone to see his children, whose asylum papers he was preparing in Britain. On November 26, a commando initially attacked the armory of the main barracks in the capital Freetown, two police stations and two prisons, causing almost 2,000 inmates to escape. At least 21 security force officials were killed in the clashes. Yesterday, December 6th, the funerals of 18 of the victims took place. On December 4, the government announced the arrest of 57 people, including 37 military personnel, 10 civilians, four military personnel on leave, five police officers and one retired police officer. President Bio and the ruling Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) initially described the events of November 26 as an attempted coup, but for many reasons, including distrust of the government, many people did not believe this account and claimed that it is a well-planned operation to undermine the upcoming dialogue between the parties and the investigation into irregularities in the June 24 elections, which Bio won. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 7/12/2023)