Friday September 23, 2005
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Comments: Hinga Norman was responsible for the Bad Blood between the Sierra Leone Army and the local defense unit
The local Defense unit first started in Tongo when the people of Bambara chiefdom approached the military commander in Kenema that they wanted to put together their local hunters to help the Army defend Tongo and its environs .There relationship with the army at that time very good . They armed themselves with shot guns(single Barrel) and all their logistics was provided by their local leaders. They never operated or undertook operations by themselves ,neither did they have specific areas of responsibility. They operated purely under the command of the Army.
With the Tongo example other areas followed suite and formed their local defense units all under the guidance of the Army. When Kono fell in 1993 it was the local Tamamboro from Kabala who along side the army liberated Kono from the RUF.By then the kono people did not have a local defense unit. It was after the second Attack on kono that they also formed the Donso to help defend Kono.On the southern front there were local vigilante group operating and one such group was under Norman’s control. Since he was the regent chief of Tailu Bongoh and as an ex military man he was given the free hand to coordinate with his vigilantes without much interference.
When the SLPP came to power and appointed Norman to the Position of Under secretary of Defense (USOD) his first agenda was to convert the local defense unit into a private army under his direct command. For God sake readers how can you be the political head of the National Army and having a private army. That was were problem started. The army and the kamajos automatically became rivals.
Norman Created a special fund from the national coffers and from the military budget to support his Kamajos, his bodyguards were all kamajos, he ordered the national Army out of certain towns and villages and replaced them with kamajos, he armed the kamajos by replacing their shot guns with AK 47 machine guns and RPG’s.He ordered President Kabba to inspect the Kamajos in a special guard of honor parade organized by the national Army. While he was doing all this he never recognized the importance of the other local defense units in the country. Take the Tamamboros for instance, they suffered a severe blow in 1994 when Fode Sankoh othered RUF to attack and kill all the tamamboros in kabala for their assistance to the army in liberating Kono.The local tamamboro commander was brutally massacred. Norman visited his local kamajos ever week in the southern province and seldomly visited the local military units or other local Defense units in the country.
In a few words , the main reason for the May 25 coup was that of dissatisfaction and frustration among the ranks of the Army. Norman recommended to President Kabba to cut the military budget by half .He even suggested that Kabbah Disband the National Army after the May 25 coup, but thanks to Maxwell Kobe who advised Kabbah sensibly on that. More on Hinga Norman later…
A CONTRARY VIEW