Dear Ambrose

There were factual inaccuracies in your analysis about the problems between the AFRC and the RUF. We would like you to set the records straight, in your otherwise excellent tradition of fair and unbiased reporting and comment:

  • Gborie did not lead the coup of May 25 1997. He was recruited by the real leaders - Abu Zagalo Sankoh, Ibrahim Bazzy and Tamba Brima - in the early hours of the morning of May 25th 1997. Before 24th May, the man knew nothing of the plans. A mere look at the cassette of the treason trial where Gborie gives his last explanation to the world confirms this fact and clearly says that he was not a coup maker but that he was approached by Zagalo.
  • The talk of a Tamba Gborie faction is therefore not correct.  We know who is behind those rumours and the damage that it has caused. It was not Johnny Paul Koroma (JPK) who left Gborie at Pademba Road. It was not even JPK who sacked him or locked him at Pademba Road. It was SAJ Musa! He led the investigation into Gborie's actions at the Iranian Embassy. The Investigating Committee led by SAJ submitted their findings to the Supreme Council and the decision to dismiss Gborie was a collective decision of the Supreme Council.  Gborie was then misled into taking a contingent of men to attack the Chairman's residence.
  • Again, the decision to lock him up for this action of insubordination was not that of JPK.  After a supreme council meeting, in which all council members were present, it was decided that Gborie be locked up. It was SAJ Musa and the RUF's Issa Sesay who actually went to Brigadier Mani's house where Gborie was staying, placed him under arrest and drove him to Pademba Road.
  • It is not true to say that JPK left Gborie in jail. Where were the so called "Tamba Gborie faction" when Gborie was left behind in jail?  JPK gave orders to Zagalo to release Gborie. Zagalo was too busy securing his own safety and later explained that he had malaria.  Gborie knew of this and those who were with him at Pademba Road know that Gborie died without any bitterness for JPK. There is no Tamba Gborie faction. What happened to him was unfortunate and very, very sad.
  • JPK did not abandon his men to go to the East; nor is he a weak man who "is too religious". This is delibearate misinformation told by those who are out to make money out of Sierra Leone's crisis, and you should not be decieved to repeat it.  They see JPK's gentle approach to the crisis as a stumbling block. They want more SLAs to be sacrificed and to die on the battlefield so their own selfish interests can be realised.  JPK, on the other hand is not interested in power or emoluments. All he wants is a decent package for the soldiers so that these young men are not left alienated by society and so resort to creating havoc on a country they believe they protected. Let it not be forgotten that they protected Sierra Leone. Your readers should remember that it took Charles Taylor less than seven months to march from Ivory Coast to Monrovia, decimating the Armed Forces of Liberia along the way.  Our boys refused to allow the RUF this success. For seven years the RUF tried and failed to even secure any major town (for any considerable time) after the army's offensive. Johnny Paul Koroma was the first officer sent to counter the RUF in 1991. He was the officer who stopped the RUF's Mohamed Tarawallie (Zeno) from crossing Waterloo into Freetown in 1995.
  • The Lomé Accord says nothing about what happens to the SLA soldiers. Yes, the hostage taking was unfortunate but it drew the world's attention to the real plans of the RUF.  You said it was "totally unjustified". We say, it was totally justified. Even those who were taken hostage understood the desperation of the soldiers who abducted them.
  • JPK was a moderate and religious man throughout his term as Head of State. No "chastening" experience made him so. He decided to relocate to the South instead of his homeland in the North because he feared that the conflict might change to a North versus South matter.  If, as your article suggests, the soldiers in the North felt betrayed by Koroma, why did they hold hostage UN personnel to bring the plight of Koroma to the world? Why not hold the hostages, damn Koroma and make heroes of officers like Brigadier Mani who stayed with them up North throughout?
  • Rambo was not killed because (as you wrongly stated) he was "popular among the young AFRC soldiers" but because he had been sent by an RUF Commander to kill Dennis (Superman) Mingo. It was 'Superman, not Rambo, who was seen by the RUF as being too closely aligned with the SLAs in the North.

Banjah Marrah
AFRC Communications Officer
7 November 1999