Sierra Leone - Domestic policy



On the politics side of the policy ledger, Kabbah has conducted an ambitious restructuring of the army and security forces with the goal of reducing overall troop strength, and prosecuting war crimes offenders under the UN Special Court. With RUF leader Foday Sankoh in prison, the Court will get a lot of press. Thus far, the RUF has cooperated, although an unsuccessful raid on an armory outside Freetown—ostensibly to steal weapons—allegedly is linked to Johnny Paul Koroma of the RUF. The raid was interpreted by some to mean a return to arms. In October 2002, Kabbah established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which has been slow in getting off the mark. Kabbah views the main goal of the TRC to be the healing of a traumatized nation, but the TRC's mandate—even with a six-month extension—expires in April 2004.

Kabbah has also presided over a rebuilding of government capacity. Overall, since the introduction of a three-year medium-term expenditure framework (MTEF) in 2001, the Kabbah government's spending has been transformed from ad hoc to planned budgeting. Following the May 2002 elections, he reshuffled his cabinet, and organized paramount chieftaincy elections to replace 63 of 149 chiefdoms throughout the country, the first such elections since 1992. The government has also begun organizing district, municipal, and town council elections, the first to take place in 30 years. The absence of functional chiefdoms and local government structures has handicapped efforts to end civil war.

Kabbah's economic policies depend largely on donors. The donors bankrolled the logistics and technical assistance required for the May 2002 elections, and are expected to provide 53% of revenue in grants and loans in 2003 and 44% of revenue in 2004. They also have taken the lead in disarmament, demobilization, and retintegration, which lasts until June 2003. The government has adhered to most of the advice from the IMF, which approved a $169 million three-year poverty reduction and growth facility (PGRF) in 2001 with a dispersal due in March 2003. Corruption is a problem in the Kabbah government, and unless dealt with more effectively than under the Anti-Corruption Commission, disbursements could be delayed.

The National Recovery Strategy, published in October 2002, lays out a blueprint for recovery, which emphasizes restoring physical and social infrastructure, law and order, jobs creation, and meeting humanitarian needs of displaced persons. A final poverty reduction strategy paper (PRSP) is expected at the end of 2003 and is predicated on contributions from a rebound in the economy led by rutile production. In 2002, Sierra Leone received a 20-year debt relief commitment from the IMF and World Bank under the heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC) initiative. While the economy is expected to grow at 6–7% over 2003–04, real GDP growth of 15% over five years is needed for real change. This level of growth is unlikely, and therefore the challenges associated with alienated youth and the unemployed will persist. Unless addressed effectively, they could trigger a return to insurgency.

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