Joseph Saidu Momoh

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Joseph Saidu Momoh
2nd President of Sierra Leone
In office
November 28, 1985 – April 29, 1992
Vice President Francis Minah (1985-87)
Abu Bakar Kamara (1987-91)
Abdulai Conteh (1991-92)
Preceded by Siaka Stevens
Succeeded by Valentine Strasser
Personal details
Born (1937-01-26)January 26, 1937
Binkolo, Bombali District, Sierra Leone
Died August 3, 2003(2003-08-03) (aged 66)
Conakry, Guinea
Nationality Sierra Leonean
Political party All People's Congress (APC)
Spouse(s) Fatmata Momoh, Hannah Momoh
Religion Christianity

Major General (Ret.) Joseph Saidu Momoh, OBE (January 26, 1937 – August 3, 2003) was the President of Sierra Leone from November, 1985 to April 29, 1992.


Joseph Saidu Momoh was born on January 26, 1937 in Binkolo, Bombali District in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone to Limba Parents. He married Fatmata N. Momoh (a Fulani woman from Kono) a number of years after his wife, first lady Hannah Momoh died in Guinea.

Momoh served as President of Sierra Leone from November 28, 1985 to April 29, 1992. A professional soldier drawn into politics, Momoh rose from the enlisted ranks, to the highest position in the Sierra Leone Military Forces (Major-General), during his presidency. In 1985 Momoh succeeded President Siaka Stevens by becoming the only candidate in a one-party election in the form of a referendum under the banner of the All People's Congress party (APC).

Momoh declared a state of economic emergency early in his rule, granting himself greater control over Sierra Leone's economy, but he was not regarded as a dictator. Instead, his people viewed him as far too weak and inattentive to the affairs of state, allowing his notoriously corrupt advisors to manipulate matters behind the scenes. Sierra Leone's economy gradually disintegrated under Momoh's rule, and the country's currency decreased in value. Sierra Leone reached the point under President Momoh where it could not afford to import gasoline and fuel oil, and the country went without electricity for months at a time. In September, 1991, after the start of the Sierra Leone Civil War, Momoh ushered in a new constitution which dismantled the one-party state established in 1978 and instituting multiparty democracy. He also played a great part in dissolving tribalism.

However, Momoh's efforts at reform came too late to rescue Sierra Leone from chaos. He was overthrown in a military coup staged by Valentine Strasser, a 25-year-old army captain, in April, 1992. Strasser's cabinet members were young lieutenants and captains in their 20s. Momoh spent the last years of his life as a guest of the military government in neighboring Guinea, where he died in exile in 2003.[1]


  1. ^ "Joseph Momoh, 66; Sierra Leone President Ousted in Coup". Los Angeles Times. 3 August 2003. Retrieved 15 January 2016. 
  • Reno, William. Corruption and State Politics in Sierra Leone (New York: Cambridge University Press), 1995.
  • Tuchscherer, Konrad. “Joseph Saidu Momoh,” Encyclopedia of Modern Dictators, ed. by Frank J. Coppa (New York: Peter Lang), 2006, pp. 189–191.
  • Tuchscherer, Konrad. “Joseph Saidu Momoh: A Legacy of Missed Opportunity,” Awoko (Freetown, Sierra Leone), 25 July 2003, p. 7.
  • Tuchscherer, Konrad. “Joseph Saidu Momoh: Human Rights,” Daily Observer (Banjul, The Gambia), 14 August 2003, p. 12.

External links

  • News about his release, IRIN November 1999
Political offices
Preceded by
Siaka Stevens
President of Sierra Leone
Succeeded by
Yahya Kanu
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