Sierra Leone Telegraph: 4 September 2020:
After leaving Sierra Leone last week for Lebanon on what State House in Freetown described in a statement as a ‘private visit’, more is now known about the true reason for president Bio’s trip to Lebanon.
Following last week’s unconfirmed report that the president is in Lebanon for COVID -19 treatment, medical experts have debunked that possibility, and are now saying that the president has undergone serious and complicated surgery at the American University Hospital in Beirut, and has come out of intensive care.
The government of Sierra Leone has remained firmly muted about president Bio’s health and his visit to Lebanon which according to the State House statement, ought to have lasted one week and should have ended yesterday.
But two days ago, the Consul of Sierra Leone in Lebanon – Mr Hashem Hashem, writing on the Lebanese News Agency website, issued the following statement:
“The President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Julius Maada Bio, will be discharged from the American University Hospital in Beirut this evening, after he underwent the necessary examinations under the supervision of former Minister, Professor. Dr. Mohammad Jawad Khalifeh, and he is in a good health condition. President Bio will stay at Beirut’s Eden Bay Hotel for a short recovery period and will pursue his personal visit to Lebanon before returning to Sierra Leone.”
Beirut’s Eden Bay Hotel (Photo) is one of the most luxurious and expensive hotels in the Middle East, costing thousands of dollars a night, prompting opposition supporters to accuse the president of hypocrisy and double standards, after Bio as an opposition leader had accused former president Ernest Bai Koroma of engaging in health tourism that is killing Sierra Leone’s health systems.
It is not certain when president Bio will return to Sierra Leone but in the meantime the vice president – Juldeh Jalloh is acting as president.
The secrecy surrounding president Bio’s visit to Lebanon is only compounding the public’s perception of the president’s lack of honesty, transparency, and openness, critics of the president are now saying.