Female circumcision – women must have the right to choose – says Dr. Fuambai Sia Ahmadu

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 8 February 2015

Fuambai Sia Ahmadu, PhDRecently, a senior minister in the Koroma government of Sierra Leone – the Minister of Gender and Social Welfare – Moijueh Kaikai, said unequivocally that female circumcision will not be abolished, echoing the views of most politicians,and perhaps that of millions of people up and down the country. (Photo: Female Rights Activist – Dr. Fuambai Sia Ahmadu).

And as the global debate continues intensely, there is a consensus emerging between those calling for banning of the practice and those defending the right of women to choose.

This emerging consensus is based on the general acceptance that female circumcision should be out of bounds for children.

But what is not clear is the determination as to the acceptable age at which consent can be deemed to have been given by a young woman. Hence the principle of consent and the capacity to give such consent, cannot be swept under the carpet by either side of the debate, as a blanket ban seems simply impractical and against the tenets of civil liberty.

Sierra Leone Telegraph’s Washington correspondent Dennis Kabatto caught up with Sierra Leonean-American medical anthropologist and female rights activist -Dr. Fuambai Sia Ahmadu, who is calling for an end to what she describes as Zero Tolerance Propaganda Campaign. This is what she told Dennis Kabbatto.

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London Town Hall meeting calls for end to victimisation of Alie Kabba in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 7 February 2016

Friends of Alie kabba UKI 2

Yesterday Saturday, 6th February, 2016 was a special day in the south-eastern Borough of Southwark in London, where members of the Friends of Alie Kabba Campaign Group – UK & Ireland, gathered for a town hall meeting.

It was a political meeting like no other, with almost every seat set aside to accommodate those attending the meeting filled, and speaker after speaker extolling what they described as “the unquestionable leadership qualities of Alie Kabba”.

Dr. Alie Kabba – now regarded as the most vocal opposition presidential aspirant, has not only proven to be more than a handful to the ruling APC party in Sierra Leone, but has in the last couple of months won the hearts and minds of a large number of Sierra Leoneans that are hungry and desperate for political change in the country.

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Sierra Leone’s new attorney-general publishes first month performance report

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 5 February 2016



joseph kamara acc2The office of the attorney general and minister of justice of Sierra Leone, today informed the Sierra Leone Telegraph that after just thirty days of being appointed to head that office, Joseph Kamara (Photo), has accelerated access to justice in the country.

According to figures released by the attorney general’s office, between 4th of January and 4th February 2016, 95 indictments were filed and 53 refiled.

Of the 53 indictments refiled, 15% are said to be for offences of a very serious nature and 27% are in regard to sexual and gender based violence.

In addition, the attorney general is said to be pleased to report that he has listened to the concerns of rights groups and the general public, about the very slow pace of justice dispensation in the country.

And in the light of this, the attorney general is reported to have undertaken several administrative measures to enhance the expedition of justice in the country, in line with the president’s vision to reform the justice sector, by speeding up the justice delivery mechanism.

But the proof of the pudding is in the eating, as thousands of people are still languishing in the country’s main prison at Pademba Road in Freetown, where most have been locked up for more than two years, without appearing in court.

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Global human rights groups call on president Koroma to sign abortion bill

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 4 February 2016

president koroma off to washington - April 2015

Today, 4th of February, 2016, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and five Sierra Leonean rights groups sent a letter to the President of Sierra Leone, urging him to sign the abortion bill passed by Parliament in December 2015.

This new law when signed by president Koroma, would permit access to abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, or up to 24 weeks for cases of incest, rape and fetal impairment.

Read the letter:

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Development aid works over time – but must adapt to 21st-century needs

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 4 February 2016

kroo bay4

The debate as to whether foreign aid is good or bad, or whether it works or not, is as old as the humanitarian gesture itself, and is set to continue, as long as there are donors willing to give and recipients happily ready to receive. (Photo: Kroo Bay, Freetown, Sierra Leone).

In Africa, many economists and political activists have long argued that aid is bad for the continent, as it drives down innovation and discourages the incentive for hard work and independence.

Perhaps the most argued case against foreign aid is that it encourages corruption in high places, that is today responsible for the abject poverty and suffering that many poor people in Africa are facing.

But many protagonists of foreign aid believe that without it, Africa will be far worse off than it is today – economically, politically and socially. Its impact on the continent they say, far outweighs its negative unintended consequences.

Writing in the academic journal – ‘theconversation.com’, three academics – Channing Arndt, Finn Tarp, and Sam Jones, argue that “development aid works over time, but must adapt to 21st-century needs.”

This is what they say:

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Sierra Leone controversial Abortion Bill needs overhaul to save and protect lives

Erica Adkins

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 3 February 2016

President Koroma greeted by Traditional Leaders

Much has been said about the Safe Abortion Act that was recently passed by parliament in Sierra Leone, but now stuck in parliamentary red tape, after president Ernest Bai Koroma refused to give his assent on religious grounds.

Religious leaders in the country are vigorously opposing the right of women to decide their own reproductive health.

Pregnancy and abortion are arguably public health issues, best addressed by medical professionals. But somehow, the religious hierarchy has decided that women, along with their chosen health professionals are not qualified to decide their own reproductive destiny.

Has president Koroma allowed religious freedom to take women’s right to choose as hostage?

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Presidential hopeful Alie Kabba leads the voice of opposition in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 2 February 2016

alie kabbaAfter weeks of silence, since the conclusion of magistrate court’s preliminary hearings in Freetown, that have now been committed to the High Court, Dr. Alie Kabba (Photo) has spoken. He refuses to be muzzled.

Writing to supporters and well-wishers in Sierra Leone and all over the world, Kabba sounds more determined than ever, in holding the Koroma government to account. It seems the Alie Kabba train is unstoppable.

And if the political game plan of the ruling APC is to muzzle Alie Kabba through the trumped up charge of bigamy, then they have miscalculated. He is even more fired up now, than he was before his first arrest by the government.

“As I have said many a time before, whatever I am forced to endure here in Sierra Leone, with my life on the line, is nothing compared to the universal pain and suffering our people deal with everyday,” writes Dr. Kabba.

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Sierra Leone government is still failing to tackle corruption

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 01 February 2016

Every year, thousands of children and adults are dying needlessly of preventable illness, disease and poverty in Sierra Leone, because of corruption.

And the performance of the Koroma government in tackling corruption since 2012, compared to the efforts of Helen Sirleaf’s neighbouring Liberia is shocking, according to figures published by Transparency International.

The twenty-first annual edition of the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index 2015, has ranked Sierra Leone 119 out of 168 countries worldwide, but with a much lower score of 29 over 100, compared to 2014 (31 over 100), 2013 (30 over 100), and 2012 (31 over 100).

In just four years, corruption in Sierra Leone has gone up by two percentage points, says Transparency International.

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SLPP’s leadership woes – a point of view

Bashiru Vandi

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 31 January 2016

SLPP Peace talks - 8 Nov 2015 2

It’s amusing to read the differing explanations put forward, regarding the current electoral predicaments and palpable ineptitude of the SLPP.

Indeed, one is constantly entertained by the valiant efforts of factional camps within the SLPP, implicitly or overtly pointing the accusing finger at each other for the ignoble and systemic demise of the party.

SLPP is one of the oldest political parties in Africa. It is intellectually, strategically and productively supposed to be head and shoulders above the rest in Sierra Leone’s politics.

So what is amiss? What has gone wrong? What are the real reasons behind the recent ascendancy of the APC and obvious descendancy of the SLPP?

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Tears of Fourah Bay College – University of Sierra Leone – Part 3

Dr. Denis M Sandy

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 30 January 2016

Marah signs new funding deal for FBCIn parts one and two of the series of articles, lamenting the plight of Fourah Bay College (FBC), the University of Sierra Leone, published in 2015, I explained the difficulties that FBC is going through.

In particular, I discussed the reasons for such a sad state of affairs; the reaction that followed from the Project Implementation Unit of the government; and the ensuing questions regarding the commencement of implementation and completion of the redevelopment project that the PIU is yet to answer.

These series of articles have attracted a lot of attention – both in and out of the country. And I would suggest that those individuals and organisations that are willing to help out – like our Australian friends, should go ahead and do so.

In this the concluding edition – part three of ‘The Tears of FBC’, current events and the “behind the scenes” shenanigans are discussed.

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Is this the end of China’s rise?

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 30 January 2016

china3China is staring economic stagnation in the face, and the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is panicking.

The segment of society the CCP fears most – its younger people with their Internet capability and changing political and cultural outlook, represent a critical demographic the Party finds itself increasingly beholden to, says Daniel Lynch, writing in the Foreign Affairs Magazine.

Author and academic Daniel Lynch says the end of China’s rise does not mean the country will collapse.

The dramatic shift the country is experiencing is more comparable to Japan’s deflationary spiral out in the 1990s after a phenomenal rise than the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

However, says Lynch, Chinese society is far stronger relative to the state, than it has been during previous periods of economic slowdown.

Particularly, one as serious as the current economic cycle, and reigning in political dissatisfaction through coercion and violence, will prove more difficult for the Chinese Communist Party.

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Africa’ 2015 election experiences present dilemmas for 2016 polls

Kealeboga J Maphunye

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 30 January 2016

SLPP prepares for constituency 107 bye election 5

This year, like 2015, promises to be yet another busy year in Africa’s electoral democracy stakes. More than a third of the continent’s 54 countries will conduct polls. (Photo: Sierra Leone 2015 Constituency 107 by-election). 

All elections are important, but in some countries they carry particular weight. And there a few that are worth highlighting.

Senatorial, state and federal constituency elections in Nigeria. In Africa’s most populous nation elections can serve as a yardstick for advancing electoral democracy. This year’s elections are expected to lead to further governance reforms. They follow last year’s presidential poll which ushered in a new government.

Burkina Faso also experienced fundamental change in 2015 with the departure of President Blaise Compaore. The change must be consolidated with electoral participation of citizens and normalisation of politics in soon-to-be-held municipal elections.

Elections in the Central African Republic will be closely watched. They present an opportunity for stabilising a country that has experienced conflict.

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China – Sierra Leone relationship has yielded dividend – says John Baimba 

John Baimba Sesay – CHINA

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 29 January 2016

president koroma in china - briefing

Imagine these figures. Trade between Africa and China is reported to have risen to $220 billion in 2014, which is believed to be about three times that of trade between Africa and the United States.

This is indicative of China’s growing influence on the African continent. Strategically, China remains a major development partner of Africa, with greater attention paid to the relevance of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).

FOCAC is a leading development cooperation mechanism established in 2000 for the purpose of lifting the bars of cooperation between the continent on one hand, and China on the other, in a number of areas including infrastructure, trade, and people-to-people relations.

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Prominent Chicago resident to run for president of Sierra Leone

Bian Elkhatib and Meggie Morris

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 28 January 2016

Alie Kabba 1Almost 5,000 miles away from his home in Chicago, Sierra Leonean Alie Kabba (Photo) awaits trial in Freetown.

He is charged with bigamy, but his supporters say the contrived charge is because he is running for President of his homeland.

Since arriving in the U.S. from Sierra Leone in 1991, Kabba has become a prominent community leader in the Chicago area.

He is executive director of the United African Organization (UAO) and was the first African board president of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR).

“Africans were hardly recognized” before Kabba’s work, said Nancy Asirifi-Otchere, a program coordinator at UAO. She said his leadership skills helped establish a voice for Africans within the larger immigrant community, as well as within the black community.
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In November 2014, Kabba turned his attention to his homeland, and announced his intention to run for president in the 2017/18 election.

He returned to the west African nation a year later to campaign nation-wide for the presidential nomination of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), said Kobe Williams, Kabba’s Chicago-area regional campaign manager.

However, according to Williams, Kabba has spent more time in Freetown’s Pademba Road Prison than he has on the campaign trail. Within days of arriving in Sierra Leone, Kabba was arrested in the capital. In the 30 days since his first arrest, he has been detained three times.

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Sierra Leone ruling APC realigns its politics with the Chinese Communist Party

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 26 January 2016

president Koroma and his chinese comrades - 19 Jan 2016

Sierra Leone is vastly rich in natural resources, and its government is woefully incapable of exploiting this wealth creating potential, for the good of its population of six million.

Corruption, poor governance, and inept leadership are responsible for the abject poverty that the people of Sierra Leone are facing today.

But the communist tendency of those governing the ruling APC party, is a serious concern for those in the country that are committed to building a vibrant liberal democracy and a prosperous nation, based on honest personal enterprise, and an open and free market economy – not controlled by the Koroma family and their patrons.

Recent visit of senior members of the Chinese Communist Party to Sierra Leone raise serious questions about the true purpose of their meeting with president Koroma at State House, and with senior members of the ruling Communist APC party.

The fifteen high powered delegation from the Communist Party of the People’s Republic of China was led by no less an individual, than the vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference –  Mr. Wang Jairui.

So, why did they choose to visit Sierra Leone at a time, when the country is engaged in a hot debate about a campaign by ruling party extremists to extend the term limit of president Koroma in office, effectively returning the country to a one party communist dictatorship?

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SLPP UKI secretary general gives an account of yesterday’s proceedings

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 24 January 2016  

Free Alie kabba London2The SLPP UKI branch is today counting the cost of yesterday’s attempt by a few members of the party to sabotage the general meeting of members held in London.

And as recriminations and counter arguments continue as to where the blame lies for yesterday’s drama, the secretary general – Mr. Ansu Momoh, upon whose shoulders responsibility was ultimately placed to chair the meeting, after the chairman had walked out, has this evening made a statement to clear the air.

This is his account and official statement of what transpired at the meeting:

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Sierra Leone opposition SLPP UKI paves way for fresh elections

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 24 January 2016

Free Alie kabba London6

Yesterday’s meeting of the members of the SLPP UK branch was at risk of being turned into a serious fracas that could have led to the breaking up of the organisation. (Photo: Cross-section of SLPP members peacefully attending yesterday’s meeting in London, UK).

A handful of members of the party, believed to be supporters of Julius Maada Bio – the former SLPP presidential candidate for the 2012 presidential election in Sierra Leone, brought the meeting to a standstill, after they failed in their attempt to stop the meeting from going ahead.

The meeting was called so that the executive officers elected in 2013, but whose term of office expired in 2015, would hand over administration of the party affairs to the Council of Elders, in accordance with the constitution.

So what caused the chaos in what was otherwise expected to be a friendly and orderly meeting?

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Free Alie Kabba protest takes centre stage in London

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 23 January 2016

Free Alie kabba London8

Supporters of the embattled opposition leader in Sierra Leone – Dr. Alie Kabba, who has in the last one month, been the victim of ruling APC political venom, are today protesting in London.

Today’s protest they say, is a precursor of much bigger protests to come in central London.

They are calling for the Koroma government to immediately and unconditionally release Alie Kabba, who yesterday was placed under new bail conditions, after magistrate Seray Wurie decided to send the case to the High Court for hearing.

But supporters of Alie Kabba continue to protest his innocence, and say that he is a political prisoner of conscience, held hostage by the Koroma government.

Today’s protest is taking place at the meeting of the opposition SLPP UK & Ireland Branch, whose members have converged in the Bacon’s Community Sports Centre, Rotherhithe in South East London, to receive an end of term report from the SLPP UK retiring executive officers 2013-2015, before they are officially dissolved.

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Police in London investigates Sierra Leonean teenager

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 23 January 2016  

London police

An investigation has been launched by police in London as vulnerable girl from Sierra Leone walks into Kent police station. Detectives are appealing for information about the teenage girl.

Little is said to be known about the girl, who is believed to be aged around 16 and originally from Sierra Leone.

Police are keen to speak to anyone who might have come to her assistance in Gravesend, Kent, on January 19.

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Sierra Leone Ambassador bid farewell to a job he never occupied

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 23 January 2016

Yassaneh and Ghana president Mahama

There are many forms of corruption and abuse of office in Sierra Leone, but this must go down in history as one of the most bizarre.

Here you have Sierra Leone’s ambassador to Ghana – Osman Yassaneh, also acting as the Secretary General of the ruling APC party, who never took up office in Accra to serve his country and people, but yet receiving pay as an ambassador – along with all the privileges and entitlements that goes with the post. Shameful and corrupt to say the least.

This week, the not so ambassadorial Yassaneh, who is one of the most powerful men in the ruling APC was in Accra, Ghana, perhaps for the first time in his official capacity as ambassador, to pack up and quit an office he never occupied.

According to State House, Yassaneh was in Accra to bid farewell to president Mahama, to make way for madam Umu Jalloh – Sierra Leone’s former Chief Justice who president Koroma has appointed as the new ambassador to Ghana.

Confused? Don’t be – welcome to Sierra Leone, a country that for the last decade has found itself at the bottom of the global corruption index, as one of the most corrupt in the world.

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