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Conflict in West Africa: The cases of Sierra Leone and Liberia

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  1. Overview
  2. Conflict trends in West Africa
  3. The roots of conflicts
  4. Case study: Sierra Leone
    1. Conflict background
    2. The Abidjan process (1995-1996)
  6. The Lome agreement
  7. What Went Wrong?
  8. Case Study: Liberia
    1. Conflict background
    2. The peace process
  9. List of references


After the Cold War the majority of wars in Africa were "societal" while conflict between states was considerably rare. The inter-state wars were further prolonged and worsened by foreign support. Military assistance on part of Western and Socialist countries is one of the common outside causes for many of the ethnic and inter-communal conflicts in several African regions (Marshall, 2005; Pollard & Odo, 2004).

Key Words- Conflicts, West Africa, Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Cote d'Ivoire, Liberia
Case Study: Sierra Leone, RUF, Foday Saybana Sankoh, APC, The Abidjan Process, ECOMOG, AFRC-RUF, The Lome Agreement, ECOWAS, UNOMIL

[...] The war economies dimension of conflict in West Africa views the quest for resources and thus economic benefit as the driving force behind violent struggles such as in the cases of Sierra Leone and Liberia (Obi, 2006). Consistent with conflict trends across the continent, conflicts in West Africa are generally of low intensity and spread across ?communal, religious and ethnic lines? (Obi, 2006). Tribal identity rather than citizenship is often times the primary binding element among various groups. Thus, two groups of similar ethnic background, but different citizenship, find similar agendas to defend and form a distinct group and side to a conflict. [...]

[...] It becomes clear that at the root of the conflict in Sierra Leone were complex dynamics of political and economic instability stemming from colonial and Cold War policies and underdeveloped institutions. Why, however, have both the Abidjan and Lome agreements failed to establish permanent peace? What is at the root of the long-lasting conflict? Alfred Zack-Williams (1999) argues that the ?state-legitimization? has been based not on the strengthening representative institutions, but rather on an emphasis on an ?oppressive state apparatus? (p.143). [...]

[...] Delivered at the AFSTRAG Workshop on Conflict Management Mechanisms in West Africa Bangura, Yusuf (2000).Strategic Policy Failure and the Governance in Sierra Leone. The Journal of Modern African Studies 551-577. Gberie, Lansana (2000).First Stages on the road to peace: the Abidjan process 91995-96). Accord. 18-25. Hoffman, Danny (2006).Disagreement: Dissent Politics and the War in Sierra Leone. Africa Today 3-19. Keen, David (2005). Conflict & Collusion in Sierra Leone. London: James Currey. Lord, David (2000).Introduction:the struggle for power and peace in Sierra Leone. [...]

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