The Colony of Sierra Leone originated in 1787 when English settlers bought a piece of land intended as a home for natives of Africa who were waifs in London. The land was later used as a settlement for Africans rescued from slave-ships. The hinterland was declared a British protectorate on 21 Aug. 1896. Sierra Leone became independent as a member state of the British Commonwealth on 27 April 1961. In a general election in March 1967, Dr Siaka Stevens’ All People’s Congress came to power and was installed despite a military coup to prevent his taking ofce. Sierra Leone became a republic on 19 April 1971 with Dr Siaka Stevens as executive president. Following a referendum in June 1978, a new constitution was instituted under which the ruling All People’s Congress became the sole legal party.
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