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Consolidation and Development,

The initial security system transformation period of 1997 to 2002 was characterised by starting a reform process in a conflict environment, which subsided into a ceasefire situation and then shortly afterwards, reverted back to conflict. The period 2002-2005 was largely concerned with developing further gains made through the security system transformation process thus far during a period where conflict was officially over. The final period under study – 2005 to 2007 – was marked by consolidation and development of security system concepts, strategies and reform activities that culminated in the peaceful general elections of 2007. At the same time, this period was marked by Government complacency regarding security.

In fact, an alternative chronology could be constructed around a generally declining amount of attention and resources being channelled into the security system transformation process. Effectively, this could have resulted in the Government having significant problems in the elections, had it not been for a generally effective and joined up system of security actors, led by the ONS.

By 2005, Defence Council meetings were postponed so frequently that they hardly happened at all. By 2006, it became clear that the Government had lost interest in security, in the sense that it was regarded as having been ‘fixed’. As

Consolidation and

one key stakeholder pointed out: “By 2003 [there was] some attention [paid to general issues of security and the security system], in 2004 less. In 2005, they [government officials] were so comfortable that they didn’t listen at all. Defence Councils were postponed several times. The NSC had not been held for two years until we pushed for one major meeting where we said that the Government needed to be aware of the issues around [the 2007] elections. By 2007, most ministries cared less about security”179. This was due, in part, to other more pressing priorities, such as the faltering economy, but also, it has been argued, to a degree of hubris on the part of the SLPP.

There is no doubt that Sierra Leone’s executive was committed to transforming the security system in order to establish control of external and internal security provision. At the same time, however, there was also a sense among some that the executive were “not necessarily [committed] to the structures that came with it”180.

The executive was also preoccupied with the upcoming general elections, which the country was to organize for the first time without external support. However, while Government-led reforms were stifled, the reality was that security system institutions would need to prepare for the elections to ensure they were held in a secure environment.

In terms of UK support, 2005 was an important year for DfID, as it devolved its office to Sierra Leone, having until then managed its projects from its London headquarters. Richard Hogg, Head of DfID Sierra Leone and vested with decision-making power arrived in Freetown in March 2005; the office was fully devolved in July of that year. This full-fledged country office, rather than a Whitehall Steering Committee-led policy implemented in Sierra Leone, not only made management more effective, but also enhanced DfID’s assistance.

By virtue of being far closer to operations, DfID’s more substantive presence in Sierra Leone enhanced communication and management on the ground, improved clarity and allowed DfID to play a more direct role in the security system transformation process. Devolution also meant that DfID was now in a position to make a greater impact on the Government of Sierra Leone in the

pivotal areas of corruption, governance systems and procurement procedures.

The negative element of the DfID re-location was that disputes with the Government of Sierra Leone in Freetown increased as well181.

DfID’s ability to coordinate its activities with IMATT and the High Commission was also enhanced. What has been referred to as the ‘Freetown troika’ emerged amongst the three organizations, which met bi-weekly to construct coordinated responses to the Government of Sierra Leone. One of the IMATT Commanders serving during this period noted: “During my time, better coordination of response became a reality. I left Sierra Leone with a positive feeling about that”182. It was also clear that good personal relations equalled good coordination.

By the time that the final PRSP was published in the spring of 2005, the security system, led by the ONS, had managed to convince their political masters of the Security Sector Review’s strategic position within it. The Security Sector Review itself was launched by the President in May 2005; links of the Review to the PRSP were noted in his speech. The security system, led by the ONS, buoyed by this support at the highest level, began the process of developing activities to support Review recommendations in the hope of persuading the international community to provide funding to support their implementation.

These recommendations needed to be adapted slightly in light of the new links with the PRSP. A multi-stakeholder approach to solve the challenges identified at both a national and regional level also needed to be developed. It was clear at the outset that the costs of delivering against the recommendations of the Review would be huge; hence, careful prioritization was required to ensure both the realism of their funding as well as their contribution to poverty reduction.

Activities were ranked on a scale of 1 to 5, based on whether they would be able to deliver against security objectives outlined in the PRSP framework.

The primary objective was “to build security forces able to prevent and respond to external and internal security threats and provide an enabling environment for poverty reduction” 183. Only activities scoring 1 or 2 had a realistic possibility of being funded184.

This period, from 2006 in particular, was also characterized by discussions of a UK exit strategy from SSR-related activities. However, while an exit strategy was being prepared and coordinated between the main UK stakeholders in 2006-2007, the volatility of funding options became an issue. In addition, while a joint DfID/IMATT work plan had been developed in 2006 and was regarded as an exit strategy for DfID, it was not finalised and implemented, which was partly due to the change of staff as well as the personalities involved.

The significance of the 2007 general elections for Sierra Leone’s security institutions during this period can not be underestimated. They were seen as a test of SLP and RSLAF capacities to provide appropriate support to the National Electoral Commission (NEC). SILSEP was slated to end in 2008, and DfID was showing clear signs of disengagement from the security system transformation process.

Implementation of the Justice Sector Development