“Continued economic progress in Liberia – a more uneven picture in Sierra Leone”

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 17 April 2015

unemployed youthThe return to work continues in Liberia, led by gains for wage workers and the rural self-employed, while the picture remains mixed in Sierra Leone, where urban youth and the non-farm self-employed continued to lag behind.

This is according to the latest round of high-frequency mobile-phone surveys, conducted in both countries by the World Bank Group and partners, in order to assess how Ebola is impacting people’s livelihoods.

These findings come as heads of state from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea meet in Washington, DC at the World Bank Group’s Spring Meetings, sharing their Ebola recovery plans with finance and development ministers and international partners.

As Liberia approaches zero cases, and Sierra Leone sees promising declines in infection rates in recent weeks, it will be important to understand where economic recovery efforts should be targeted, and which people within each country need the most attention – both now and once the health crisis has fully abated, says a new report by the World Bank.

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‘You can come to the White House – but not alone’

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 April 2015

president koroma in washington - 2015

No special treat today at the White House for a president, who has grossly violated his country’s Constitution, and shown that he cannot be trusted either by the people of Sierra Leone or the White House. (Photo: President Koroma happily relaxing last night at his luxurious hotel bedroom in Washington, whilst his people are dying of Ebola and poverty in Sierra Leone).

According to sources, after last minute diplomatic shuffling by the UN, the World Bank and the IMF, president Obama finally agreed to meet with president Koroma, but only in the presence of presidents Sirleaf and Conde of Liberia and Guinea.

This last minute decision has saved a lot of embarrassment for the people of Sierra Leone, who really deserve better leadership to that which they currently endure.

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United Nations frowns on the banning of pregnant girls attending school

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 April 2015   

school children - Sierra Leone CARSchools across Sierra Leone were officially opened yesterday. But as predicted in several communities, only a handful of parents approved the government’s decision to reopen schools without adequate preparations that would guarantee the safety of ALL of their children.

Several schools reopened without access to water. Most classrooms are still unfit for human accommodation, with poor sanitation, broken desks and chairs – deplorable conditions that have characterised the standards of education and hindered quality of learning in schools.

But of noticeable absence yesterday, were the thousands of girls who are now pregnant – victims not of Ebola, but men who took advantage under the cloak of Ebola.

The policy of the government of Sierra Leone is not to allow pregnant school girls to return to school, thus further denying girls of their right to education as enshrined in the country’s Constitution and the UN Human Rights Charter.

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Ebola continues to pose a global threat – says WHO

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 14 April 2015

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of LiberiaAs West African leaders from the worst affected countries discuss strategies in Washington this week, aimed at bringing the Ebola crisis to an end, the numbers of new Ebola cases continue to rise in both Sierra Leone and Guinea – the two worst affected countries, though at a much slower pace and rate of increase.

In Washington, plans are being discussed with the World Bank and IMF, to ensure that not only the rate of increase is brought down to a sustainable zero, but that health systems in the affected countries are able to deal with future outbreaks.

So with the declining numbers of infected cases, is Ebola now making an exit as international medical staff that have provided much needed support and expertise, leave?

Last week, the World Health Organisation (WHO) met to discuss the state of the virus and prospects for the future. Whilst there was hope and optimism for sustainable zero cases in the three affected countries, WHO remains cautious.

The road to achieving sustained zero Ebola cases and the return to post-Ebola recovery, has began. But success will require a lot more concerted and honest efforts on the part of the three governments before the final destination is reached.

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Living with Ebola – Schools reopen in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 14 April 2015

miriams schoolHundreds of thousands, if not millions of children, are expected to return to school in Sierra Leone today, since the deadly Ebola brought the country close to paralysis last year.

But it is not certain how many parents will refuse to send their children to school today.

Several parents are concerned at the lack of preparedness by the government, in ensuring that schools are made safe, especially those used by health agencies as holding centres for suspected Ebola patients.

At the best of pre-Ebola times, sanitation and hygiene in most schools in Sierra Leone were poor.

Access to water for domestic use across the country, comes at a premium, let alone supplies to schools.

But Unicef says that they are helping the government and schools, through this critical transition phase.

At the best of times too, most schools are over-populated and with a very high pupil to teacher ratio. This will continue to pose serious risks to health and quality of education in the country.

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President Koroma and West African leaders meeting IMF and World Bank

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 13 April 2015

president koroma off to washington - April 2015According to a statement from State House in Freetown, president Koroma left Freetown yesterday, with a large entourage of twenty staff, to attend the annual joint IMF – World Bank spring meeting in Washington, USA.

But president Koroma will not be meeting president Obama at the White House.

Last month, president of Liberia – Helen Johnson Sirleaf, was Obama’s guest of honour at the White House – a symbol of what many regard as a reward for good governance in Liberia and her honesty in tackling the Ebola crisis.

Last Thursday, 9th April 2015, Obama met with his international health and national security teams to discuss what more can be done to get to zero Ebola cases in West Africa.

President Obama was updated by his advisors on the situation in the West African region, and was briefed on measures currently underway to end the epidemic in Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Sierra Leone Telegraph’s Political Analyst, say that with Obama’s appraisal of the crisis last week by his team, there is no need for him to meet with president Koroma and, or the two other Mano River Union leaders this week in Washington.

But there are far more serious underlying issues regarding president Koroma’s waning integrity and international image.

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Sierra Leoneans marched in Washington to protect Sierra Leone’s Constitution

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 12 April 2015

Madam Philomena Yumkella2Thousands of Sierra Leoneans yesterday 11th April 2015, gathered at the White House Lafayette Park in Washington DC, to protest the unconstitutional actions of president Koroma. (Photo: Mrs. Philomena Yumkella – centre, at the rally yesterday).

The unconstitutional sacking of the elected vice president over a month ago has deeply divided  the nation.

The country’s Supreme Court started sitting last Thursday to decide whether the president’s action is constitutional or not. Sierra Leoneans both at home and abroad have little faith in the country’s judicial system.

Many Sierra Leoneans believe that the judges involved in the case have been personally appointed by the president, whose unconstitutional action, they are now adjudicating upon.

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Sierra Leone constitutional crisis: “Open your eyes to see the sun” – says John Baimba Sesay

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 11 April 2015

APC LOGOThere have been calls by a handful of opposition supporters for nationwide protests, following the appointment of Ambassador Victor Bockarie Foh as Vice President of Sierra Leone, after the sacking of the former vice president by president Ernest Bai Koroma.

They seem to be also dictating what should be the outcome of the Supreme Court proceedings.

Without any attempt to prejudice the Supreme Court proceedings, it would rather appear extremely disingenuous, deceitful and politically ill motivated, on the part of the opposition to seek to use this issue as a camouflage in their bid to gain behind-the-curtain attention.

My reason: Any reasonable group or organization, would rather advocate for patience and respect for the rule of law, than seeking to resort to public protest and demonstration, more so, as the matter is now in court.

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President Koroma Court hearing – Yumkella remains hopeful and cautiously optimistic

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 9 April 2015

sam sumana and president koroma at warThe Supreme Court hearing into president Koroma’s decision to sack vice president Sam Sumana, without due process as enshrined in the country’s Constitution, started this morning in Freetown.

Five Supreme Court Judges, including Justices Valesius Thomas – the country’s acting chief justice, Nicholas Browne Marke, Eku Roberts, Patrick Hamilton and Vivian Solomon, this morning heard a ‘Notice of Motion’ presented by lawyer J.B Jenkins Johnston, who is the lead counsel for the Plaintiff – former vice president Chief Alhaji Samuel Sumana.

Sam Sumana is seeking an interlocutory injunction to restraint Mr. Victor Bockarie Foh from acting as and, or carrying out the functions of the vice president of Sierra Leone, pending the determination of the matter before the Supreme Court, in respect of the action of the president to “relieve” him from the office of vice presidency.

Lawyer Ajibola Manley-Spaine is the lead counsel for the 2nd Respondent Victor Foh, whiles lawyer Berthan Macauley (Jr) is serving as the lead counsel for the Attorney General, who is the 1st Respondent.

As a sitting president cannot be taken to court, hence the Attorney General is standing on behalf of president Koroma.

The Editor of the Sierra Leone Telegraph today spoke to presidential hopeful – Dr. Kandeh Yumkella.

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Yumkella’s presidential ambition now needs strategic policy substance

Alan Luke

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 8 April 2015  

Kandeh K YumkellaKandeh Yumkella (Photo) needs to invigorate his presidential bid if he is serious about winning the SLPP race for flagbearer and the presidency in 2018. So far, his campaign is yet to get off to a proper start.

This may suggest a cautious and deliberative approach on the one hand and indecisiveness on the other.

Alternatively, it may be the consequence of the real politic and negotiations within the SLPP.

However, since announcing his departure from the UN, we are yet to learn more about his campaign strategy and policy offerings.

Whatever the reason for the slow and intrepid start, the task of mobilising the majority of Sierra Leoneans behind an SLPP candidate is huge.

While I do not have any time for the sycophantic journalism peddled by the Awareness Times, the challenge of winning more than 37% of the electorate is a huge one.

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Kailahun baby was not Ebola positive – says NERC’s Palo Conteh

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 7 April 2015

kailahun ebola1Following last Saturday’s shocking news of a possible return of Ebola to Kailahun district of Sierra Leone, after succeeding in keeping the virus at bay for one hundred and eleven consecutive days, it seems the people of the district can tonight breathe a sigh of relief.

The country’s National Ebola Response Centre (NERC) has this evening confirmed that the nine month old Kailahun baby, who had died and was pronounced Ebola positive, had in fact died of causes not related to Ebola.

When news broke of the blood test result, which according to the hospital showed that the baby had died of Ebola, both the local community and the district council strongly refuted the result, and demanded an immediate investigation.

But what is encouragingly unprecedented, however, is the speed with which the ministry of Health, NERC and the international health agencies in the country have responded to the community’s call for answers.

An investigation was conducted and found that the blood sample tested, was not that of the dead baby. So what went wrong and who was responsible for this terrible mistake?

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Ebola – a bumpy road to zero transmission

Kingsley Ighobor in Freetown, Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 7 April 2015

Ebola - A bumpy road to zero transmissionPaolo Conteh, Sierra Leone’s defence minister and head of the country’s National Ebola Response Centre, was an athlete who set a 400 metres national record in 1982 that remains unbeaten to this day.

These days, Mr. Conteh uses a sporting analogy to explain the fight against the Ebola virus disease, which has resulted in more than 22,000 infections and over 9,000 deaths in the three most affected countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

At a discussion forum in the Sierra Leonean capital, Freetown, in January, the moderator asked Mr. Conteh to explain the state of Ebola then.

“Let’s put it this way,” the former sprinter began. “We are running a 400m race and we have just 20m to go. Already, your legs are tiring and you are gasping for breath. Other runners are coming fast and are about to overtake you. But you must finish the race strong. At that stage, you dig deeper and draw on your last reserves of energy. You must do all you can to breast the victory tape.”

Although there were some chuckles in the audience that included 80 Ebola social mobilizers, who are in communities sensitizing people on Ebola, the message was clear: the race against Ebola cannot be won unless there is a strong, final push.

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SLPP politicians in hot water as APC police state bites again

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 6 April 2015

POLICE BRUTALITY2Political tension in Sierra Leone continues to rise alarmingly, amid a worrying hike in the number of new Ebola cases, especially in the capital Freetown and the north of the country.

But with a government that is becoming increasingly touchy over the activities of the country’s main opposition political party – the SLPP, the fight against the deadly Ebola is being seen by opposition politicians and civil society groups as a pretext for political harassment and intimidation by the government’s security forces.

Two weeks ago, the police issued a public statement warning against public meetings and processions. But there was no warning against the private gathering of people with common interests for social reasons, at private residential locations.

And it is debatable as to whether the current Ebola public state of emergency  law prohibits the gathering of people with a common interest from socialising privately at a residential location.

This question is important, because there have been several privately held social gatherings by ministers and senior ruling party members at private residential locations, without any interference or hindrance by the police.

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Ebola takes a new twist in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 5 April 2015

Ebola and the futureThe hopes and dreams of the people and authorities of Kailahun district were dashed yesterday, after celebrating one hundred and eleven Ebola free days, when the government announced that a child has died in the district of the Ebola virus.

This news brought shock and confusion not only to the district, but across other regions, where Ebola has become entrenched, and people and health agencies have been studying the success of the south-eastern districts in keeping Ebola out.

When Ebola struck Sierra Leone in March last year, Kailahun became known as the epicentre of the virus.

But with the resolve and determination of the local communities and their local authorities, Kailahun not only became the second district in the country after Pujehun – another south-eastern district – to go without Ebola for 42 consecutive days, but had clocked an enviable one hundred and eleven Ebola free days.

Residents in the district who are now refusing to accept the result of the blood test carried out on the dead child, believe that they have worked very hard at maintaining a clean bill of health, until yesterday, when hopes of continuing to be regarded as pioneers were dashed by the government’s announcement.

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Foreign investors may leave Sierra Leone due to corruption and lack of rule of law

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 3 April 2015

Shandong takes over African MineralsChina’s economic interests in Sierra Leone have risen by over 400% in the last five years, and this resurgence can be largely explained by its vast investment in the country’s mining sector.

But China’s economic expedition in Sierra Leone has prompted several Sierra Leoneans to now refer to Sierra Leone as the 24th province of China.

Critics say that while senior Chinese government officials – including the chief of police are being held to account and charged with corruption and abuse of office in Beijing, in Sierra Leone, the Chinese are encouraging and fueling corruption in high places – double standards to the highest degree.

And recent events leading up to the full acquisition of Sierra Leone’s largest iron ore mining company – African Minerals Limited, by the Chinese company – Shandong Iron and Steel, is a perfect example of how China’s interests and the interests of those in power in Sierra Leone have become massively intertwined.

A new Chinese business philosophy in Africa, of: “What’s yours is ours.” But honest investors say they will leave Sierra Leone, because of corruption and the porosity of the rule of law.

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Sierra Leone – and the uncertainty continues

Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 2 April 2015

Boy walks in the river in Kroo Bay slum looking for scrap metal to sell. Kroo Bay, Freetown, Sierra Leone.There is a saying: “If you want to sleep with me, please be nice enough to romantically sedate me first.” It is not enough that our democracy has turned into ‘government of the one percent by the one percent and for the one percent’.

What beats my imagination is that despite its grip, the one percent who shoot from every compass point of their mouths, don’t seem to give a damn about the ninety-nine per cent.

And so we are again, on the brink of another experience, outside the norms of democracy, by those who know the price of deception, vendetta, kleptocracy and partisanship, but not the value of a legacy.

Instead of politics as the ethical base, and honesty as the guiding light, their desire to convince and the urge to prevail is so overpowering, that normal limits of behaviour are ignored or forsaken in outlandish and sometimes bewildering comments and actions, driven by ignorance and outright misinformation from unexpected quarters.

Which is why, plunged into the depth of uncertainty by one of the most despicable manipulation and desperate political manoeuvres of its chequered democratic history, I wonder what the future holds for Sierra Leone.

When you realise that two weeks down the line, the highest court in the land has yet to assuage the feelings of every citizen, who simply want to know whether President Ernest Koroma, with a stroke of his ‘almighty’ pen, has the right to put an end to the existence of his deputy, who was endorsed by the people when presented to them by the same person and his party, and to replace him with a hand-picked plastic replica that has no electoral endorsement.

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Sam Sumana is now caught between the devil and the deep blue sea

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 1 April 2015

sam sumana 6Vice president Sam Sumana is awaiting the deliberations of Sierra Leone’s Supreme Court in two weeks, upon whose fiat, judgement as to whether president Koroma acted unlawfully or not rests.

But in the meantime, he has opened up another battle-front with the ruling APC executives, who had earlier decided to throw him out of the party, for reasons they considered to be contrary to the party’s constitution.

Whiles  Sam Sumana is capable of making up his own mind, as to which fight is worth pursuing and dying for – including seeking a return to his VP job, he must however think twice about returning to the ruling APC party.

Some fights are simply not worth the effort, especially as the Supreme Court’s ruling may well force the ruling party to present all the evidence for judicial arbitration. This is destined to become a very long drawn, all out war.

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Sierra Leone Supreme Court tells local media not to discuss the constitutional crisis

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 31 March 2015

sam sumana and president koroma at warSierra Leoneans in the last two months have seriously been dis-empowered and impoverished, by those elected to serve as custodian and guarantor of the country’s constitution.

They have been let down by the behaviour of bad politicians, who have no business in governance.

But tonight they will be going to bed with much bitterness, having been robbed by the country’s judiciary of their prime freedom and liberty – the right to free speech, as the Supreme Court issues a ban on the media discussing the current constitutional crisis.

For those citizens that had a glimmer of hope and confidence in the Supreme Court to deliver justice in the case involving president Koroma and the sacked vice president, this ‘fatwa’ issued by the Judiciary,  has put a nail on the coffin of hope, truth and justice.

A press statement signed and issued today by the Acting Master and Registrar of Courts – Stephen Yaya Mansaray, says that:

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Nigerians elect a new president as the people of Sierra Leone wait for 2018

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 31 March 2015

Buhari wins1 - AFPIt’s a new day, and it’s a new dawn for Nigeria’s liberal democracy, as the people of Africa’s most populous nation turn their backs on a sitting president  and his ruling party that have ruled them since 1999.

Today the majority of Nigerians say its time for change.

This is an historic and unprecedented political milestone for Nigeria, a country known for its perennial military coups and political violence.

And there are reports, the defeated president of Nigeria – Goodluck Jonathan has telephoned the winner of the presidential election ex-military strongman General Buhari (Photo), in advance of the country’s Electoral Commissioner officially declaring the winner.

The 72 year old Buhari and his All Progressives Congress Party (APC), have achieved a momentous electoral success, unheard of in Nigeria and certainly throughout most of Africa.

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Sierra Leoneans demonstrate against president Koroma in London

Yusuf Keketoma Sandi

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 30 March 2015

london protest5Many concerned Sierra Leoneans on Sunday, 28th March, 2015, braved the weather in London to demonstrate against the unconstitutional actions of President Koroma, following the removal of Vice President Sam Sumana and the appointment of Ambassador Victor Foh as new “vice president”.

The demonstration which attracted women, men and young people across political parties and from different walks of life, took place opposite the office of the British Prime Minister David Cameron at No. 10 Downing Street.

Addressing the crowd, the SLPP UK and Ireland Chairman, Jimmy Batilo Songa told the crowd that as Sierra Leoneans – irrespective of the party they belong to, should all be concerned about the unconstitutional actions of the President.

He told the crowd that today as concerned Sierra Leoneans they are sending a message to President Koroma that, the people will not accept his unconstitutional actions and he should bring back Sam Sumana as the elected Vice President.

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