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Sierra Leone: Information regarding government persecution of members of the Temne tribe

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 1 June 1990
Citation / Document Symbol SLE5196
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Sierra Leone: Information regarding government persecution of members of the Temne tribe, 1 June 1990, SLE5196, available at: [accessed 24 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.


Sierra Leone has eighteen ethnic groups of whom three, the Mende, Temne and Limba comprise sixty nine percent of the whole population. [


 George T. Kurian, Encyclopedia of the Third World, Third Edition, Vol.III, New York: Facts ON File, Inc., 1987, p.1747.] Politically, the Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) is a Mende organ, while the All People's Congress (APC) is a Temne-Creole-Limba alliance. [ Ibid.] According to Kurian (1987), the SLPP was in power from 1951 to 1967 and finally "entered the political wilderness after boycotting the 1973 elections". [ Ibid.] Its defeat in 1967 brought the former president, Dr. Siaka Stevens, to power. [ ] Dr. Siaka Stevens, reportedly a member of both the Limba and Temne ethnic groups, held a nationwide referendum in 1978 which outlawed the Mende-controlled SLPP in favour of a one party system. This followed a period of violent unrest as a result of the frequent "political jockeying" between the two parties. [ "Sierra Leone Bristles with Economic Discontent", The Washington Post, 14 July 1980. Attached.] The president referred to this time of ethnic and political tensions as one that brought the country close to civil war. [ Ibid.]

There have been recent reports (attached) of tribalism becoming an issue again in Sierra Leone. The Limba and the northern Temne have been targeted by SLPP supporters as groups receiving special treatment from the new president, General Momoh, himself a Limba. [ Lahai Samboma, "Tribalism in Sierra Leone", the New African, No.264, London: IC Publication, September 1989, p.40. Attached.] Much of the publicity has been directed at alleged nepotism and tribalism practised by the APC. [ Ibid.] Leaders of the Temne community, based in the northern town of Makeni, have approached President Momoh demanding an end to his alleged policy of favouring his own Limba ethnic group in official appointments. [ "Sierra Leone: Saying No", Africa Confidential, London; Miramoor Publications, 1 June 1990. Attached.]

Please see the attached documents for further information regarding the state of ethnic relations in Sierra Leone at the present time.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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