Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 March 2015
Sierra Leone’s vice president Sam Sumana who last week was expelled from the ruling APC party is seeking asylum at the American embassy in Freetown. (Photo above: Ivorian president Gbagbo’s wife captured by armed militia. Could this happen in Sierra Leone?).
He is understood to have fled his home where he had spent two weeks in self-imposed quarantine following the death of one of his bodyguards from Ebola.
Sam Sumana is no longer running away from the clutches of Ebola, but from president Koroma’s secret service who are believed to be hunting him down.
The home of the hounded vice president was raided by heavily armed security forces. His security staff have been disarmed.
Sam Sumana’s fate seems to have been decided by the president, once the decision to expel him from the ruling party had been made last week.
But today he is fighting to secure his life and that of his wife, as they await the decision of the American embassy regarding his asylum request.
The president has established a new heavily armed personal paramilitary force that is now poised to crush any sign of opposition or dissent as he tightens his grip on power. (Photo: President Koroma).
This worrying development comes in the wake of the sentencing of former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo’s wife for the part she played in the violence that engulfed the country after her husband refused to give up power.
Violence erupted in Ivory Coast in 2011 after president Laurent Gbagbo refused to acknowledge defeat by Alassane Ouattara, who is now president, in controversial elections held in 2010, in which over 3,000 people were killed.
He is the first former head of state to be detained by the ICC, although Slobodan Milosevic of Yugoslavia and Liberia’s Charles Taylor were also tried by the Special Courts in The Hague.
According to the ICC, the former president of Ivory Coast will go on trial for crimes against humanity on 7 July this year – 2015.
She was sentenced to 20 years in prison. (Photo: Seen here at the hands of opposition militia after her arrest).
Laurent Gbagbo’s son – Michel Gbagbo, was also convicted and sentenced to five years in prison.
Spokesman for the government of Sierra Leone said, that the vice president’s life is not at risk and could not understand why the vice president should have left his home and seeking asylum at the American Embassy.
He explained that the vice president’s security staff were simply being rotated in line with agreed policy and this was not intended to cause panic or insecurity in the country.
But few in the country believe his explanation, let alone vice president Sam Sumana whose whereabouts is now unknown, as the American Embassy is yet to confirm whether he is at the Embassy along with his wife.
Surprisingly, however, rather than State House itself issuing a statement regarding the safety and security of a senior public official, it was left to the ruling APC secretary general who issued this incoherently written and irrelevant public notice, regarding the safety of the vice president:
“The All Peoples Congress national secretariat has been informed by the American embassy in Freetown that the honourable vice president, Alhaji Samuel Sam Sumana, has requested to seek asylum at the US embassy in Freetown, alleging his life is under threat and that his residence has been vandalized.
“The APC national secretariat wishes it to be known that since the expulsion of the vice president from the APC, the party has not at any point in time threatened the life of the vice president, nor is the party aware, or a part, to the act of vandalizing his residence, as has been alleged by the vice president.
“In line with article 8 of the 1995 APC party constitution, the vice president has 30 days to appeal his expulsion from the party and the APC would want to assure him, the general public and the international community, that following the due process as stipulated in the party’s constitution is the only available option for the vice president.
“Consequently, the party views the allegations been made by the vice president as an indication that the vice president is not prepared to avail himself to the internal appeal process of the party as sanctioned by the 1995 constitution and is also intended, by the vice president, to feign public sympathy and further shows that the vice president is conducting himself in a manner which is likely to embarrass the party, or bring the party into hatred, contempt, ridicule and disrepute, in contravention of article 8.i.i (ii)(a) of the 1995 constitution of the party.
“Hence, the national secretariat calls on the entire party membership and the general public to remain calm, as our party is a law abiding party and will not do anything outside the ambit of the law.”
Vice president Sam Sumana is not an employee of the ruling APC party, but a senior public officer employed by the State. Responsibility therefore, for the safety of the vice president rests with the State – and by extension the president himself.
What now needs to be answered is why the American embassy in Freetown see the need to inform the ruling APC about the vice president’s request for immunity.
The Sierra Leone Telegraph will bring you more on this story as it develops.