Author: Abdul Malik Bangura: 15 June 2018:
I have just seen a very deceitful and misleading press release signed by the Financial Secretary (FS) of Sierra Leone, Sahr Lahai Jusu, dated today 14th June 2018, in which the FS is claiming that the Government of His Excellency President Maada Bio has paid repatriation costs of former Ambassadors and Press, Cultural, Economic and Security Attaches.
As I write, this press release from the FS has ignited flames which can cause the greatest diplomatic humiliation in the history of Sierra Leone.
Many diplomats who are affected, and whom I have spoken to this evening have all threatened to complain the government of President Bio, over what many feel is a contravention of the Vienna Convention on the treatment of diplomats.
In today’s Press Release issued by the Financial Secretary, Mr. Sahr Lahai Jusu (Photo) claimed “the repatriation cost of Le 2,412,734,976 covers the air tickets for Diplomats and spouses and three (3) children below the age of 18 years and shipments of their personal effects.”
I want to authoritatively say that the Financial Secretary in this statement is lying to Sierra Leoneans.
This is completely untrue and has the possibility of embarrassing the President. Documents in my possession can prove this.
To start with, one of the affected diplomats in Europe whom I spoke to this evening, explained: “I am entitled to a 40ft container, air tickets for myself, my wife and three children from my station to Sierra Leone.”
He added: “Each of the tickets costs 1,500 Euros and five of which is 7,500 Euros.” He furthered that the shipment of 40ft container costs 9,000 Euros. Total repatriation cost is 16,500 Euros (sixteen thousand five hundred Euros).
His Ambassador he said, is supposed to receive a total repatriation cost of 22,000 Euros (twenty-two thousand Euros); reason being that Ambassadors are entitled to two Business class tickets, in line with similar package for other diplomats.
However, the Sierra Leonean diplomat in Europe said today that his embassy received a total of 12,000 Euros (twelve thousand Euros) to be shared between the Ambassador and himself (six thousand Euros each). I repeat – six thousand Euros which is not even enough to buy flight tickets for the family members of the diplomats, excluding the shipment of their personal effects as stated by the Financial Secretary.
This clearly shows that the Financial Secretary lied, as our diplomats are currently stranded in Europe, some of whom are now threatening to complain the government of President Bio to their host nations.
The same horror story recounted above has been replicated in other Missions in Africa, Europe and Asia. In these Missions, the diplomats affected have threatened to write a collective letter to the President to remind him of the Government’s obligations to them, and also forwarding the relevant Conditions of Service relating to Diplomats including obligations relating to repatriation.
Meanwhile, it could be recalled, a letter of recall dated 6th May 2018 (which I have seen), from President Bio to one of the senior diplomats abroad, written by the President himself, begging the senior diplomat to stay at his post until his final repatriation cost are arranged.
The President had himself written that the senior diplomat to remain active in his position as a diplomat representing Sierra Leone, until his repatriation costs are arranged “IMMEDIATELY”.
Meanwhile, it has gone a month now since President Bio wrote letters to our Political diplomats. This is raising the question as to why the President was in a haste to sack all politically appointed diplomats, when in fact he knows he does not have the capacity to repatriate all of them at the moment.
As it is now, my embassies’ sources are saying that there is complete drop in activities in our foreign missions; and that all workers have been abandoned by our current SLPP led government.
A press release today in which the Financial Secretary is lying against diplomats, has not only embarrassed our diplomats, but also the President who begged them to stay in their stations.
Many diplomats are now demanding that the Financial Secretary must be sacked immediately, for ridiculing the integrity of the President abroad.