Sierra Leone is now officially on ICC watch as Koroma fails to stop political violence

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 27 June 2016

rebels enter freetownSierra Leone is back on the agenda of the International Criminal Court (ICC), despite a painful recovery from a brutal ten year civil war that left hundreds of thousands dead.

Although several key instigators and perpetrators of the civil war were held responsible for the heinous crimes committed against humanity, and brought to justice by the ICC, it seems few lessons, if at all, have been learnt.

The ruling APC party dictatorship which came to power in 1967, and ruled the country until it was kicked out of office by the military in 1992, unleashed unprecedented levels of violence on its own people. Today, it seems history is beginning to repeat itself.

By the time the military took over in 1992, Sierra Leone had been declared a failed state, and one of the most dangerous countries in the world, as law and order crumbled.

Opposition politicians were terrorised by the state, arrested and executed, because they stood up against corruption, dictatorship and the abuse of power with impunity. The ruling APC was determined to stay in power by all means necessary.

Sierra Leone is today on the edge of returning to its brutal and violent past, as politicians once again incite and provide oxygen for a new wave of political violence, that is becoming all too frequent and lethal.

Since coming to power in 2007, president Koroma has failed to control lawlessness and state impunity. Political violence is on the rise. Law and order is steadily declining.

But today, the International Criminal Court has been put on notice, and Sierra Leone is back on the ICC watch list.

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Sierra Leone ruling APC party violence rearing its ugly head

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 26 June 2016

Fadika at the commonwealth event.jpg2

The Sierra Leone Telegraph has today been reliably informed that reports of a violent attack on one of Sierra Leone’s presidential aspirants in the coming 2018 elections – Mr. Moseray Fadika (Photo: Moseray Fadika – centre, with former Nigerian president Obasanjo – left) is untrue.

Yesterday’s report, presented as breaking news, said that “Moseray Fadika was admitted in hospital following a deadly attack by alleged thugs of the Education Minister – Minkailu Bah in Mile 91, east of the capital Freetown.”

The report also went on to say that “Moseray Fadika was left badly affected and his car seriously damaged.”

The Sierra Leone Telegraph contacted Moseray Fadika’s communications team, and also his secretariat for comment on this story, but no reply was received.

But a source close to Moseray Fadika gave this statement to the editor of the Sierra Leone Telegraph:  “I don’t know where people cooked that report. Moseray Fadika had a successful trip to Mile 91 and came back to Freetown safely. As a matter of fact, he had his night prayers as he is used to at the Fullah central mosque in Magazine throughout the night.”

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Sierra Leone vice president Foh calm ministerial nerves?

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 24 June 2016

minkailu mansarayThis week’s fire at the offices of the Sierra Leone ministry of mines, could not have come at a worse time for the mines minister – Minkailu Mansaray (Photo) – the second highest ranking official of the ruling APC party, who was accused a few days ago by the sister of the Social Welfare Minster, of corruption and meddling in the affairs of her ministry.

Although the cause of the fire is unknown, there are suspicions the fire could have been deliberately started, in order to destroy vital evidence of rampant corruption at the mines ministry.

In the last few months there has been a spate of similar fires at various government buildings in the capital Freetown, with the police remaining none the wiser as to the causes.

But after the bitter row between the minister of mines and the social welfare minister, as to who is responsible for mandating and managing the country’s Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, president Koroma ordered vice president Foh to chair a meeting involving Dr. Blyden, Minkailu Mansaray, and the rest of the Hajj committee members for dialogue.

Was this a damage limitation exercise to prevent  an implosion of his government?

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Hope triumphs over fear as Yumkella and Alliance trump Bio

From our correspondent in Freetown

22 June 2016

SLPP prepares for constituency 107 bye election 5

As results of the Sierra Leone People’s Party lower level elections held on Saturday 18 June 2016 emerge, the Sierra Leone People’s Party membership has demonstrated a desire for hope over fear.

Initial results from these elections show that nominees are supportive of Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella’s candidacy for the SLPP presidential nomination.

From the results analysed so far, Yumkella has secured 59 percent of constituencies in the country. KKY supporting candidates have won constituencies in the following districts:

Western Urban District- 30% of constituencies; Port Loko District – 80%; Bombali District – 50%; Kambia District – 90%; Koinadugu District – 100%; Kenema District – 70%; Kono District – 85%; Kailahun District – 0%; Pujehun District – 30%; Moyamba District – 50%.

Bo District is yet to be declared, due to the campaign of violence allegedly orchestrated by supporters of Julius Maada Bio. Read more

Younger sister of minister of social welfare Dr. Sylvia Blyden hits back

Cheryl Omotunde Blyden

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 22 June 2016

President koroma and victor foh at APC conference 30 april 2015

There is a fake letter dated June 15th 2016, claiming to be from the Social Welfare Ministry. It shows the unauthorised names and passport details of individuals pretending to be government officials from the Sierra Leone ministry responsible for signing the 2016 Hajj Accord with the Saudi Arabian government. (Photo: Mines minister – Minkailu Mansaray – in red shirt). 

Not a single one of the five names listed, works at the Ministry of Social Welfare, which for over 50 years now, has been the ministry solely responsible for Hajj affairs.

Very fraudulently obtained NOTE VERBALE from the Director General of Sierra Leone Foreign Ministry – Madam Kadi Bassir, is then sent to the Saudi Embassy in Conakry, Guinea, presenting the mines minister Minkailu Mansaray, two private businessmen and two religious/Arabic clerics as being responsible to act on behalf of the Social Welfare Minister.

All this was done, without the knowledge of the minister of social welfare. Strange but absolutely true. ‘Salone na place.’

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Sierra Leone: ‘China and us’

Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 June 2016

Victor Foh and President Xi Jinping of China

When your clothes are made of cassava leaves, you don’t take a goat as a friend. We seem to be thinking of ourselves and our assumed enclaves only, rather than our country. We seem to have become the land of the timid and the Hollow Balls?

It appears that the sense of siege which many of us have developed to national issues, courtesy of our low level development, seems to colour our reaction, even the otherwise intelligent people.

But, objectivity requires that we discuss issues on their own merits, not tether them to partisan and/or contemporary norms. A corrupt system with incapable personnel cannot and will never produce a value driven society.

If we look at the path we have taken and manage to defy our natural indifference to serious issues, one thing we are sure to discover, and which would aid the proper development of our nation, would be the absence of truth and the increasing presence of absolute selfishness and lack of a nationalistic fervour to drive the kind of vision that is needed to make the nation great.

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Sierra Leone Mamamah airport and emerging geo-political issues – an opinion

John Baimba Sesay – Information Attache, Sierra Leone Embassy – CHINA

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 June 2016

samura kamara and vice president Foh in china1

I have had the opportunity of interviewing Dr. Samura Kamara twice as Sierra Leone’s Foreign Affairs Minister. I must admit he has always proven to be an intellect, one with a sound resume of performance, with outstanding local and international reputation, but extremely unassuming on all fronts. (Photo: Dr. Samura Kamara – left, and vice president Foh – right, in China).

This didn’t come as a surprise, given his excellent pedigree and strapping underpinning in diplomacy, macroeconomics, public finance and financial sector policy analysis and reforms.

As former Financial Secretary, Bank Governor, Finance Minister and now Foreign Minister, he has, over the years, earned himself tremendous respect both within and out of the country especially within the context of development cooperation institutions like the World Bank, the IMF and the EXIM Bank, a key Chinese development cooperation mechanism.

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A tough job ahead for Sierra Leone’s ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 19 June 2016

Poverty in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

In Sierra Leone today, millions of children and young people are struggling through the daily grind of basic existence, battling disease, poor health care, poverty, poor access to good quality education, and society’s ambivalence to their needs, with far too many trapped in the broken web of the country’s criminal justice system.

With such a huge challenge for any government in power in Sierra Leone to ensure that children are given a good start in life that will guarantee them a brighter future, the expectation is that the ministry responsible for children’s affairs will be properly resourced and well managed.

But when the ministry itself is constantly being thrown into public ridicule and becomes the subject of media intrigue and spectacle, serious questions must be asked about the president’s ability to prioritise and appoint the best people to run the ministry to look after the affairs of the most vulnerable in society.

Just few months ago, both the previous minister and his deputy were sacked by president Koroma. They had brought the department into public disrepute, after being caught on video throwing rude invective at each other and threatening violence. That video went viral on social media.

This week, there is report of serious allegation of threatening behaviour by the Director of Social Welfare – Mr Kabia, towards the minister in charge – Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden, which it is understood resulted in the arrest of the Director by police, who is still being kept in custody.

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Sierra Leone economy facing bankruptcy as Koroma restricts use of foreign currency

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 18 June 2016

freetown3

When the president of a nation sends a text message to every citizen, demanding that they must refrain from using foreign currencies, then one gets a sense of the deep economic crisis that has befallen the country.

This is the text message that president Koroma sent to the people of Sierra Leone this week, curtailing their right to free trade: “I call on fellow Sierra Leoneans to buy, sell, lease, rent, hire and transact all businesses in LEONE. Let us do all we can to save our currency. H.E. Dr Ernest Bai Koroma.”

Such dictatorial edict from State House, in a bid to control a collapsing economy, when those in power are the biggest traders in foreign currency is nothing short of hypocrisy and double standards.

But the fact is that the APC government has run out of cash and ideas as to how best to generate foreign revenue, and is now squeezing every dollar out of the poor people of Sierra Leone, says critics.

According to some economic analysts, not only is the country’s currency – the Leone struggling to survive, the economy is collapsing fast, after eight years of mismanagement and poor stewardship by the APC government.

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My vision for Sierra Leone is to eradicate extreme poverty – says Yumkella  

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 16 June 2016

Poverty in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

On Friday, 10th June 2016, Dr Kandeh Yumkella addressed over a thousand people at the University of Makeni. The aspiring presidential flagbearer of Sierra Leone’s main opposition party – the SLPP, spoke on the theme “Developing Our World – the Post 2015 Agenda”.

In his opening remarks, Dr Yumkella thanked the university authorities for the invitation and opportunity accorded him, to speak about the developmental challenges facing countries like Sierra Leone, and his own vision and plans for addressing these challenges.

Yumkella set out the socio-economic development challenges facing Sierra Leone, which he said will form the basis of his 2018 election manifesto commitment, to deliver “Hope, Opportunity and Transformation for the people of Sierra Leone”, if he succeeds in winning the SLPP flagbearship election in the next few months and becomes the president of Sierra Leone in 2018.

Speaking to academics, leaders of faith communities and students, Dr. Yumkella recalled his personal contribution to the university in his capacity as the then Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), after receiving an email from an ‘unknown’ sender who happened to be Bishop Biguzzi.

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SLPP UK and Ireland – It is time for pragmatic thinking

Abdulai Braima

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 June 2016

Violence at SLPP office - 24 August 2015

This is Sierra Leone. There is, here, no pampering pillow to cuddle. What there is, is a pulverising political war, raging like a consuming inferno that will sculpture no saint

If we in the SLPP cannot fight together to avert the onset of a looming de facto dictatorship, then we must be prepared to perish together in our various isolated dungeons.

The current spectacle is a grinding crush that heavily lends itself to a paralysing inability to feel the weighty import of that which is at stake, for our party and our nation.

The reigning style in vogue seems to favour the crudest rogues. Yet it shows nothing stylish.

At all levels of the inter and intra political divide, we seem to be engaged in the rudest metaphor of a relentless exercise, in a political self-pleasuring that is punitively self-consuming.

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Massive security breach at Sierra Leone Lungi international airport

 Politico

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 13 June 2016

New Look Lungi International Airport 4There are reports of a major security breach at the Lungi international airport, of a man attempting to board an Air France plane with petrol, a matchbox and a cigarette lighter, among other items in his possession.

A three-and-a-half hour long closed circuit television (CCTV) footage shows he had spent over three hours on and around the runway, with a traveller’s bag, and he had even changed his shirt preparing to board the plane before he was spotted.

The incident took place last Saturday evening. It is believed that the man was without a valid passport, a flight ticket or a boarding pass, but made his way to the airport runway. He boarded the flight conveyor bus with checked-in Air France passengers.

One report says the bus arrived beside the plane where he was detected as passengers started boarding the plane.

Another source however says he was spotted on the bus shortly after he had boarded to be taken to the plane.

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Cross-party conspiracy to change Sierra Leone’s constitution to limit the presidency to parliamentarians?

Pamela Johnson

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 12 June 2016

Sierra Leone ParliamentA secret plan by a small group of cross-party parliamentarians in Sierra Leone to amend the 1991 Constitution, so as to promote their own narrow and personal political interests has been exposed.

Many people in the country that have heard about this diabolical scheme are referring to the plan as a recipe for stiff resistance and chaos, and a threat to national security.

The secret plan by certain members of parliament is to amend the qualifications for the presidential candidacy as stipulated in Section 41 of 1991 Constitution, in order to exclude certain individuals from contesting the presidential election in 2018.

Unofficial report from parliament says that this small group of parliamentarians from both the ruling APC and SLPP, have been holding secret meetings to put forward the amendment to Section 41.

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Sierra Leone presidential hopeful Yumkella lectures students about leadership and transformational change

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 11 June 2016

Yumkella engages makeni students1After last week Sunday’s SLPP party office dramatic fiasco, caused unnecessarily by the incompetent chairman Chief Kapen, former UN global energy and development expert – now one of the leading contenders for the party’s presidential candidacy – Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, was yesterday at the university of Makeni.

He spoke to over one thousand students at the university’s auditorium about leadership, good governance and transformational change in Sierra Leone.

Citing various examples of the importance of good leadership, Yumkella told the students that ‘without the right leadership, their university and its students will not succeed; without good leadership a business will collapse; and equally true, he said that without strong and focused leadership the country will continue to face difficulties in meeting the aspirations of the people.’

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Africa is failing to close the gap on providing water and sanitation

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 11 June 2016

Africa water problem

Sierra Leone is now in the middle of the rainy season, when water should not be a problem. But in the last six months, the shortage of clean drinking water in most parts of the country, except the president’s hometown of Makeni in the north – which is enjoying abundant access to electricity and water, is now becoming a national crisis.

Most communities in the capital Freetown are without pipe-borne water, let alone electricity. The government appears helpless and uncertain as to how to solve the problem, before it becomes a massive public health disaster.

The UK government has recently provided the Koroma government with a $45 million donor funds to help tackle the problem.

But Sierra Leone has no business being short of water. The country has one of the wettest rainy seasons in Africa. So whats gone wrong?

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Chinese African loan takeaway – will Koroma get his new prestigious airport?

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 9 June 2016

president koroma in china - briefing

It is disheartening and a crying shame to read that; president Koroma of Sierra Leone is still determined to have his new prestigious international airport, built by the Chinese at a cost of $400 million, only to serve as his legacy, despite the country’s rising debt and poverty. (Photo: President Koroma dozing off at a meeting in China).  

This is what the government’s newspaper Cocorioko reported yesterday: “The State House Communications Unit wrote also that; ‘….during a stopover meeting with traditional leaders at Masiaka, Port Loko district, President Koroma assured the nation that the Mamamah International Airport project is not dead as being perceived by detractors, but is still very much alive and will soon be transformed into reality’.”

So, While the World Bank is struggling to feed millions of people across the country, through its unsustainable ‘safety net – cash distribution scheme’, Koroma is busy discussing his prestigious vanity project with the Chinese. How duplicitous and dishonourable?

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African trial of Chadian dictator Habré is a landmark against impunity

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 8 June 2016

Former Chadian dictator Habre

For several decades, the call for the institution of African solutions and justice for African problems and impunity has gone unheeded. But alas, the tide may now be turning.

Dictators and despots in Africa have for far too long got away with police brutality, state terrorism, and politically motivated violence against their own people.

But the long arm of the International court, sometimes appears too slow or too unwieldy to take action and bring those monsters to justice.

The recent slaughter of innocent civilians in Burundi is a good example of how the international community, can very often allow their political and economic interests in some African counties to polarise their judgement as to how to act in the face of injustice and impunity.

Paul Jackson writes in theconversation.com that, the sentencing in Senegal of the former Chadian dictator Hissène Habré, to life in prison, was a landmark judgment in African – and potentially global justice.

He said that: “Driven by victims, supported by international human rights activists, the trial is also cause for the international community to reflect significantly. Ironically, it was the French and then particularly the US – the very people Habré railed at on hearing the verdict – who kept him in power in the first place.”

Is this the beginning of the institution of African solutions and justice for African problems and impunity? This is what he says.

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Sierra Leone government’s obsession with road construction amid growing poverty and rising debt

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 6 June 2016

ebola-sierra-leone

When a democratically elected government of one of the poorest countries in the world spends over $500 million on infrastructure projects in eight years, leaving millions of people without adequate supply of clean drinking water, electricity and healthcare, one has to wonder what and whose agenda they are pursuing.

Since the end of the brutal civil war in 2001, successive governments of Sierra Leone have adopted a pro-poor development strategy known as the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) formulated by the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme, and the IMF, along with their bilateral partners, through which donor funds are channeled to the country.

But after fifteen years of delivering the PRSP in various permutations – Agenda for Change, Agenda for Prosperity – and spending over $10 billion dollars in post-war reconstruction, Sierra Leone continues to rank as one of the five poorest nations in the world.

Not even the most basic of the UN Sustainable Development Goals have been met, as Sierra Leone teeters on the edge of economic collapse once again. The Koroma government has run out of money. Paying the salaries of public sector workers is becoming a national crisis.

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Locked out by those preventing change in Sierra Leone’s opposition SLPP

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 5 June 2016

slpp musical chairsThe Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) has lost the last two general and presidential elections, and from all accounts is destined to remain on the opposition benches in 2018, simply because it is failing to change.

With less than two years to go before general and presidential elections are held in Sierra Leone, and after nine years of failing to put up a strong opposition to one of the most inept government the country has ever had, the main opposition party – the SLPP continues to shoot itself on the foot.

Those running the affairs of the party are showing the electorate that the party is not fit to govern the country.

And yesterday’s ugly scene outside the SLPP party office, where a group of prominent party members – grand patrons of the party – all aspiring to become the SLPP presidential candidate for the 2018 elections, were refused entry into the building, was a humiliation too far.

This is just another crisis in the party’s long battle with itself, to find peace and unity among the various contenders for the leadership and presidential candidacy of the party. It does not look pretty.

Those locked out of the party office yesterday, Saturday, 4th June, 2016, are members of an  Alliance formed by most of the presidential aspirants that are working towards peace and unity in the party – the Presidential Aspirants Alliance.

They included Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, Alpha Timbo, Munda Rogers, Franklyn Rogers and Dr Jonathan Tengbeh.

So why were they refused entry into the party office in Freetown?

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Kandeh Yumkella on a marathon regional tour of Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 3 June 2016

KKY Tour - May 2016 7

As the opposition SLPP prepares for its forthcoming 2018 presidential candidacy election, presidential hopeful – Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella has taken his message of ‘hope, opportunity and transformation (HOT)’ to the northern and eastern districts of Sierra Leone.

This marathon tour followed his recent series of town hall meetings across southern Sierra Leone in December 2015, culminating in the homecoming visit of his Kambia district in January 2016.

Throughout all of those town hall meetings, Yumkella engaged with local people to understand their needs. He explained how as president of Sierra Leone he would fulfill their hopes and aspirations.

Yumkella, who many political pundits have marked as a strong favourite to win the SLPP 2018 presidential candidacy election, took to the high road across the north and east of Sierra Leone, immediately after returning from the 2016 African Utility Week Industry Awards in Cape Town, South Africa, where he was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

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