SIERRA LEONE WEB NEWS ARCHIVES
16 January 1996: NPRC head of state Captain Valentine Strasser was ousted Tuesday in a palace coup and replaced by his deputy, Brigadier Julius Maada Bio. The new government has announced a dusk-to-dawn curfew, and called upon all ministers should report to defence headquarters for consultations.
The new government suspended plans for a February 26 vote to return the country to civilian rule. Director of Defence Information Lt. Col. Karifa Kargbo, speaking over SLBS (state radio), accused Strasser of wanting to cling to power, but announced that the scheduled elections were on hold.
"Captain Strasser has been removed from office and has safely left these shores due to his blatant attempts to implement legislation intended to be harmful to the democratic process," Kargbo said. "The electoral process has been suspended to allow discussions with all political parties," he added.
Kargbo said Bio would address the country soon.
"Any soldiers except those under special military command are instructed to keep off the streets," he added. Diplomats have said in the past that it was Bio, rather than Strasser, who appeared anxious to remain in power.
Strasser last weekend declined an invitation to stand as a candidate for the National Unity Party. He also insisted elections should go ahead next month to return the country to civilian rule, despite continued fighting with rebels in the interior.
19 January 1996: The newspaper For Di People gave an account of the palace coup Friday, saying that Strasser was punched and kicked to the ground before being handcuffed and bundled into a helicopter with Bio's pistol put at his head.
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