Sierra Leone profile - Timeline

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A chronology of key events

1787 - British abolitionists and philanthropists establish a settlement in Freetown for repatriated and rescued slaves.

1808 - Freetown settlement becomes crown colony.

1896 - Britain sets up a protectorate over the Freetown hinterland.

1954 - Sir Milton Margai, leader of the Sierra Leone People's Party, appointed chief minister.

1961 - Sierra Leone becomes independent.

1967 - Military coup deposes Premier Siaka Stevens' government.

1968 - Siaka Stevens returns to power at the head of a civilian government following another military coup.

1971 - Sierra Leone declared a republic, Stevens becomes executive president.

1978 - New constitution proclaims Sierra Leone a one-party state with the All People's Congress as the sole legal party.

1985 - Maj-Gen Joseph Saidu Momoh becomes president following Stevens's retirement.

War and coups

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
RUF rebels waged a campaign of amputation and rape

1991 - Start of civil war. Former army corporal Foday Sankoh and his Revolutionary United Front (RUF) begin campaign against President Momoh, capturing towns on border with Liberia.

1991 September - New constitution providing for a multiparty system adopted.

1992 - President Joseph Momoh ousted in military coup led by Capt Valentine Strasser, apparently frustrated by failure to deal with rebels. Under international pressure, Capt Strasser announces plans for the first multi-party elections since 1967.

1996 January - Valentine Strasser ousted in military coup led by his defence minister, Brig Julius Maada Bio.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Junta leader Major Johnny Paul Koroma suspended the constitution

1996 - Ahmad Tejan Kabbah elected president in February, signs peace accord with Sankoh's rebels in November.

1997 - Peace deal unravels. President Kabbah deposed by army in May. Maj Johnny Paul Koroma, in prison awaiting the outcome of a treason trial, leads the military junta - the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC). Koroma suspends the constitution, bans demonstrations and abolishes political parties.

Kabbah flees to Guinea to mobilise international support.

1997 July - The Commonwealth suspends Sierra Leone.

1997 October - The UN Security Council imposes sanctions on Sierra Leone, barring the supply of arms and petroleum products. A British company, Sandline, nonetheless supplies "logistical support", including rifles, to Kabbah allies.

1998 February - Nigerian-led West African intervention force Ecomog storms Freetown and drives rebels out.

1998 March - Kabbah makes a triumphant return to Freetown amid scenes of public rejoicing.

1999 January - Rebels backing Revolutionary United Front leader Foday Sankoh seize parts of Freetown from Ecomog. After weeks of bitter fighting they are driven out, leaving behind 5,000 dead and a devastated city.

UN intervenes

1999 May - A ceasefire is greeted with cautious optimism in Freetown amid hopes that eight years of civil war may soon be over.

1999 July - Six weeks of talks in the Togolese capital, Lome, result in a peace agreement, under which the rebels receive posts in government and assurances they will not be prosecuted for war crimes.

1999 November/December - UN troops arrive to police the peace agreement - but one rebel leader, Sam Bokari, says they are not welcome. Meanwhile, Ecomog troops are attacked outside Freetown.

2000 April/May - UN forces come under attack in the east of the country, but far worse is in store when first 50, then several hundred UN troops are abducted.

2000 May - Rebels close in on Freetown; 800 British paratroopers sent to Freetown to evacuate British citizens and to help secure the airport for UN peacekeepers; rebel leader Foday Sankoh captured.

2000 August - Eleven British soldiers are taken hostage by a renegade militia group called the West Side Boys.

Disarming rebels

2000 September - British forces mount operation to rescue remaining UK hostages.

2001 January - Government postpones presidential and parliamentary elections - set for February and March - because of continuing insecurity.

2001 March - UN troops for the first time begin to deploy peacefully in rebel-held territory.

2001 May - Disarmament of rebels begins, and British-trained Sierra Leone army starts deploying in rebel-held areas.

2002 January - War declared over. UN mission says disarmament of 45,000 fighters is complete. Government, UN agree to set up war crimes court.

2002 May - Kabbah wins a landslide victory in elections. His Sierra Leone People's Party secures a majority in parliament.

2002 July - British troops leave Sierra Leone after their two-year mission to help end the civil war.

2003 July - Rebel leader Foday Sankoh dies of natural causes while awaiting trial for war crimes.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Foreign troops, such as these British soldiers, intervened in the conflict in Sierra Leone

2003 August - President Kabbah tells truth and reconciliation commission that he had no say over operations of pro-government militias during war.

2004 February - Disarmament and rehabilitation of more than 70,000 civil war combatants officially completed.

War crimes trials

2004 June - UN-backed war crimes war crimes trials begin.

2004 September - UN hands control of security in capital over to local forces.

2005 August - UN Security Council authorises opening of a UN assistance mission in Sierra Leone from 2006, to follow departure of peacekeepers in December.

2005 December - The last UN peacekeeping troops leave Sierra Leone, marking the end of a five-year mission to restore order.

2006 March - Liberian ex-president Charles Taylor is arrested in Nigeria and handed over to the war crimes court in Sierra Leone which indicted him.

2006 December - President Kabbah says 90% of the country's $1.6bn (£815m) debt has been written off after negotiations with international creditors.

Taylor trial

2007 June - Start of former Liberian President Charles Taylor's war crimes trial in The Hague, where he stands accused of instigating atrocities in Sierra Leone.

Sierra Leone's special war crimes court in Freetown delivers its first verdicts, finding three militia leaders guilty.

2007 August - Presidential and parliamentary polls. Ernest Bai Koroma wins the presidency and his All People's Congress, formerly in opposition, wins a majority in parliament.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Diamond mining is a major activity in the Kono district, in eastern Sierra Leone

2009 October - UN-backed Special Court winds down after seven years investigating civil war atrocities. Its remaining case, the trial of Charles Taylor, continues in The Hague.

2010 September - UN Security Council lifts last remaining sanctions against Sierra Leone - an arms embargo and a travel ban for rebels.

2012 February - Energy companies report discovery of oil off the coasts of Liberia and Sierra Leone. Work continues to estimate their size.

2012 April - The UN-backed Sierra Leone war crimes court in The Hague concludes its work with the conviction of former Liberian leader Charles Taylor of aiding and abetting war crimes in the Sierra Leone civil war.

2012 November - First elections for since the end of the civil war held without UN oversight. President Koroma wins a second term.

2013 April - Sierra Leone deploys a battalion of troops to Somalia to join the African Union peacekeeping mission.

Ebola epidemic

2014 July - Sierra Leone declares a state of emergency to tackle the deadly Ebola outbreak which has killed more than 700 in West Africa.

2014 August - President Ernest Bai Koroma dismisses Health Minister Miatta Kargbo over her handling of the Ebola epidemic that has killed more than 400 people in Sierra Leone.

2014 September - People in Sierra Leone are instructed to stay indoors for three days, as part of the country's strategy to stop the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.

2015 March - Vice-President Samuel Sam-Sumana seeks asylum in US embassy, claiming his life is in danger. President Koroma accuses him of fomenting violence, and dismisses him.

2016 March - The World Health Organisation declares Sierra Leone Ebola-free for a second time, after a new flare-up in the wake of the first all-clear in November.

2018 April - Former military Julius Maada Bio ruler wins presidential election as Sierra Leone People's Party candidate, beating Samura Kamara of the governing All People's Congress. Mr Kamara says he will mount a legal challenge to the result.