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West Africa Civil Society Institute Strengthening Civil Society

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SIERRA LEONE: CIVIL SOCIETY AND THE 2007 ELECTIONS

Civil society activism in Sierra Leone has a long history; indeed as an integral part of democratic expression in a modern state, it is probably the oldest in English‐speaking West Africa. Sierra Leone produced West Africa’s first newspaper, the Royal Gazette and Sierra Leone Advertiser, in 1801, as well as the region’s first lawyers and modern legal system, all in the nineteenth century. These two core institutions – legal and journalism – have been active in the country throughout its modern existence, surviving the colonial period, one‐party state, coups, and a brutal ‘rebel’ war; and sometimes acting, in the absence of viable political opposition/parties, as representatives of ordinary, ‘voiceless’ people.

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