Sierra Leonean President Julius Maada Bio said on Saturday that his government’s response to an attempted coup last week would be dictated by “respect for the law”.
“The attempted coup will be treated by my government as a simple matter of public order and not as a political, tribal or religious issue,” Bio said in a speech to the nation.
“Our response to the events of 26 November will be measured and determined by a single parameter: respect for the law, no more, no less.”
Armed attackers had stormed a military armoury, two barracks, two prisons and two police stations, confronting security forces during the early hours of 26 November.
The fighting left 21 people dead, including 14 soldiers, a policeman, a prison guard, a security guard, a woman and three assailants, according to Information Minister Chernor Bah.
Thirteen soldiers and one civilian suspected of involvement in the coup are in detention.
Police released photos and names of 32 men and two women wanted as “fugitives”, including serving and retired soldiers and police officers, promising a “handsome reward” to anyone providing information leading to their capture.
“All guilty parties, whatever their status, will be held to account within the limits of the law,” said Bio, who was re-elected in June for a second term.
Last month’s events “were clearly and unambiguously an attempted coup d’etat”, and the attack “was premeditated and coordinated to overthrow the democratically elected government by violent and illegal means, to overthrow the constitutional order and reverse our decades of investment in peace and democracy”, he added.
The West African region has been marked by a series of coups since 2020 in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Guinea.
On Saturday, Guinea-Bissau denounced an “attempted coup” earlier this week following clashes between the army and security forces.