Sierra Leone is a West African country of 6 million people. Now a constitutional democracy, dictators and one-party governments ruled for decades and the people endured periods of civil war.
In 1996 the country had its first multiparty elections and freely elected its first civilian government in 34 years. Hope soared. The following year, on May 25, a group of young military officers led a coup that overthrew the government. The new government called itself the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC).