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Joseph Momoh, 66; Sierra Leone President Ousted in Coup

August 04, 2003|From Staff and Wire Reports

Joseph Momoh, 66, a former president of Sierra Leone who was overthrown during the country's civil war, died Saturday in neighboring Guinea after a long illness.

A former army chief who rose to the rank of major-general, Momoh was the member of the All People's Congress Party chosen as successor by President Siaka Stevens when he retired at age 80 in 1985. Momoh held office in the former British colony for nearly seven years.

In 1991, rebel leader Foday Sankoh, who died last week, began a rebellion, starting a decade of war. The fighting claimed 50,000 lives and left many maimed when Sankoh's forces hacked off victims' arms or legs.

In 1992, Capt. Valentine Strasser, then only 27, ousted Momoh in a military coup, sparked by frustration over how Momoh was handling the civil war against Sankoh's revolutionary United Front.

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