Socialist Worker

Gunning for trouble in Africa

Issue No. 1712

Gunning for trouble in Africa

The right wing press have been going mad over the capture of 11 British troops taken hostage with their guide last Friday by "rebels" in Sierra Leone. The kidnappers, dubbed the "West Side Boys", have been labelled by government spokespersons and the media as drug-fuelled thugs and extortionists.

This may be true, but they are at least in part a creation of British and United Nations (UN) intervention in this war-torn country. One reason the New Labour government has been shocked is that it thought the West Side Boys were under its command.

The "rebel" gang was at one time loyal to forces that staged a coup in 1997. Their leader is Sandhurst-trained Johnny Paul Koroma. This year he went over to the British-backed coalition government.

The West Side Boys, feeling left out in the cold, are now trying to get more weapons and the release of one of their present commanders. The guns they used to capture their hostages are most likely British government supplied.

Thousands have been distributed by Britain to arm the forces that make up the Sierra Leone government. These weapons are adding to the spiral of violence. The British government and the UN claim their interventions are peacekeeping missions.

Yet, as this latest episode shows, throwing more arms into a conflict only escalates the bloodshed. Meanwhile, the obscene international diamond trade continues. And the leaders of the world's richest countries, the G8, have failed to deliver on debt cancellation for countries that are then pushed to war.

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Sat 2 Sep 2000, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1712
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