Sierra Leone – request for presidential court injunction denied

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 6 May 2015

law_court_building

The long awaited Supreme Court ruling into whether an injunction should be granted, preventing Victor Bockarie Foh from continuing to serve as vice president of Sierra Leone was delivered today.

After exactly four weeks of deliberations, the five Judges unanimously decided that it would be unsafe for the highest court in the land to demand the removal of the vice president from office.

The Acting Chief Justice Valesius Thomas, who also chairs the panel of supreme court judges made up of justices Nicholas Browne Marke, Eku Roberts, Patrick Hamilton and Vivian Solomon, said today that he sees “very grave consequences for the whole nation, if the office of the vice president is left vacant.”

This rather surprising conclusion which was also echoed by the other four judges, will no doubt provoke serious debates among constitutional lawyers, in and out of Sierra Leone.

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Political violence in Sierra Leone – Amnesty holds Koroma government accountable

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 5 May 2015

President koroma and victor foh at APC conference 30 april 2015

Many Sierra Leoneans at home and abroad, who were once  admirers and supporters of president Koroma, are now dumb struck by the alarming ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ manner, with which the president has transformed himself into a brutal dictator.

Today, Amnesty International says politically motivated violence must stop, in the West African nation, crippled by the Ebola virus and a government that itself has become consumed by its own slothfulness, poor governance and corruption.

Last month, campaigners for the reinstatement of the sacked vice president were violently manhandled and arrested in their homes by the police in Freetown.  In March, lawyers campaigning against the unconstitutional actions of president Koroma were violently dispersed and a senior barrister arrested.

In April, a handful of members of the opposition SLPP gathering at the residence of a local party member, were arrested and are believed to be incarcerated at the Pademba Road prison.

Last week in Kenema – an opposition SLPP stronghold, heavily armed police unleashed violence on demonstrators protesting the president’s abuse of power and unconstitutional behaviour. The director of the country’s human rights group was arrested and several people hospitalised by injuries inflicted by the police.

Amnesty International is calling on president Koroma to stop the abusive implementation of the Ebola state of emergency powers as a political weapon.

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Sierra Leone cries out for a new and different political movement

Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 4 May 2015

Freetown street traders2

Despite the constitutional imbroglio and the presence of Ebola in our midst, Sierra Leone on the surface, seems extraordinarily calm these days.

However, whatever the outcome of the Sam Sumana saga, one thing is sure – he is history, as far as the current master-class in political cynicism goes.

Nevertheless, one lesson from the drama, is the increasing need for reform of the political system and the strengthening of our democratic institutions.

The fact that all our major political parties are embroiled in internal bickering – with national implications, speaks volume for our democratic dispensation, and exposes the inherent flaws of our power grabbers known as politicians.

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‘I paid a bribe Sierra Leone’ – a new website for reporting graft

Edie P. Vandy

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 3 May 2015

ACC LOGO - corruptionAccountability Alert Sierra Leone (AASL) has partnered with Janaagraha “I Paid a Bribe” in India to campaign and take action to eradicate bribery, by empowering citizens with the tool to report bribery and help uncover the true cost of corruption and bribery in Sierra Leone.

The new website is interactive and will measure a citizen’s bribery experiences. It will show the city or town where the bribery took place, what the bribe was for, how much was paid, and the department or institution where the bribe was paid.

Information from the national bribery reporting website will be published and used to follow-up with the ministry or department for corrective action and to improve performance.

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APC members denied the right to discuss constitutional crisis

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 01 May 2015

APC emergency meeting 30 April 2015 2

Last minute frantic change of agenda for the national delegates conference of the ruling APC party of Sierra Leone, by the party executives yesterday, may have averted an ‘all-out internecine war’, but has surely postponed the inevitable mutiny that will tear the party apart before the next elections in 2018

According to a senior ruling party insider, President Koroma was deeply angered by the decision of party executives to call yesterday’s extraordinary conference, whilst he was away in  Washington, attending the World Bank summit.

What many political analysts found puzzling, is that the short notice sent out to party members inviting them to the conference, made no mention of the Ebola crisis as the agenda item.

But it became very clear a few days ago, that there had been a last minute change of agenda from the scheduled debate about the president’s unconstitutional behaviour.

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Sierra Leonean achievers in USA receive NOSLINA 2015 Awards  

Dennis Kabatto

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 01 May 2015

NOSLINA2015_Logo_5a_BlueWelcome to the 17th Anniversary of NOSLINA (National Organization of Sierra Leoneans in North America) weekend.

On Saturday, 2nd May 2015, members of Sierra Leone’s most prestigious Diaspora establishment – NOSLINA, will gather at Metro Points in New Carrollton, Maryland, USA, to accord awards to 15 deserving individuals and organizations for their impeccable contributions to the amelioration of the plight of Sierra Leoneans both at home and in North America.

What started 17 years ago as a means of strengthening the linkage between Sierra Leoneans at home and in the Diaspora, has evolved, and is now providing serious international and national influence, affecting the lives of countless people.

“This year, the NOSLINA awards are that much more significant, because, whilst each year we have honored those who have gone ‘above and beyond’ to support Sierra Leone, the past 12 months have been particularly difficult on that nation.  The deadly Ebola virus has all but ravaged a country whose healthcare infrastructure was already weak – to say the least,” Suna Nallo, Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management Professional, who was re-appointed Executive Director of NOSLINA at the organization’s elections in October, said in a statement.

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Sierra Leoneans in UK staged an all party protest against Koroma’s despotic rule

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 27 April 2015

London protest 9

The streets of central London became a sea of RED and Green today, as Sierra Leoneans from across the UK, belonging to both the ruling APC party and the country’s opposition SLPP joined a protest march against the unconstitutional and despotic behaviour of president Koroma.

But who would have thought that, an APC – SLPP alliance against lawlessness and in defence of the country’s Constitution was ever possible?

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Protesters beaten up and human rights activists arrested in Sierra Leone

The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 27 April 2015

Sierra Leone policeThere are very dark political clouds engulfing Sierra Leone today – marking the 54th anniversary of independence, as heavily armed police in the south eastern district of Kenema arrest several peaceful protesters and senior executives of the country’s Human Rights Commission (HRC), for speaking out against the discriminatory enforcement of the state of emergency laws.

Several protesters were severely beaten up by the police. One report from Kenema says that the director of HRC is now in police custody, following orders from State House for his immediate arrest.

Today marks the 54th anniversary of Sierra Leone’s independence from British colonial rule. But it seems a different form of neo-colonisation is now poised to strangle all freedoms and civil liberty guaranteed under the country’s constitution.

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Calls for an end to state of emergency in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 26 April 2015

President koroma - Feb 2013Since the imposition of the state of emergency laws by president Koroma last year, seen as a necessary measure aimed at curbing the alarming rate of Ebola infection and transmission across the country, there are now serious concerns that the ruling APC party is using those restrictions as a weapon against political opponents.

Calls for the lifting of those draconian restrictions, ending months of politically motivated and indiscriminate curtailing of the movements of those opposed to the government, are also growing louder.

‘End the state of emergency laws now’ – has become the new slogan of the politically oppressed.

Many in Sierra Leone strongly believe that president Koroma’s abuse of the state of emergency powers is now beginning to drive opposition activists underground, as security forces in the country continue to routinely harass, intimidate and arrest those that dare speak out.

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“Vice president Foh is here to work and support president Koroma” – says John Baimba Sesay

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 25 April 2015

VICTOR FOHAfter several weeks of successfully dodging fierce criticisms and political bullets aimed at removing him from the unelected office of vice presidency, Victor Bockarie Foh (Photo) has nailed himself unto his office desk, as well as pinned his mast at State House.

But those calling for president Koroma to rescind his decision to sack the legitimate and elected vice president Sam Sumana, are refusing to give up their peaceful protests.

They want Victor Foh out and president Koroma himself impeached. Next week, the rank and file of the ruling APC party will meet, to discuss the president’s unconstitutional behaviour. The outcome is uncertain.

In the meantime, according to John Baimba Sesay, Victor Foh continues to show his unflinching loyalty and gratitude to president Koroma, for the reward he has received from the president.

This is John Baimba’s report:

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Sierra Leoneans in UK send letter to British Prime Minister

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 23 April 2015

Dear Prime Minister

david-cameronWe Concerned Sierra Leoneans residing in the United Kingdom (known as Sierra Leone First UK), feel constrained to raise a matter of grave importance, given the fact you are in the middle of a hectic election campaign.

As one of the leading members of the international community, you are aware that in an interdependent world, a failed state eventually leads to ungoverned spaces, which in turn become the breeding ground for non-state actors that cause greater instability – including acts of terrorism for the global community.

Apart from terrorism, the nature of the global community today, means no nation is immune from tragedy in another part of the globe. The outbreak of the Ebola virus disease in Sierra Leone and other parts of West Africa is a classic example, of how inter-connected the world has become.

It is precisely our fear of such a scenario, that we wish to raise our concerns with respect to the direction Sierra Leone is heading, under the leadership of President Ernest Bai Koroma.

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Sierra Leone’s ruling APC deeply divided as emergency meeting is called

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 22 April 2015

Zhao Yanbo, Ernest Bai Koroma, Samuel Sam-SumanaSince his unilateral and dictatorial sacking of the country’s Constitution and the appointment of his handpicked new vice president Foh, president Koroma himself is believed to have enjoyed very little inner peace.

The Sierra Leone Telegraph has been reliably informed by a State House source that, some of the closest political allies and senior ministers of the president, have withdrawn their support for the beleaguered president.

This rift has now prompted an emergency APC party meeting, which will take place on Thursday, 30th April 2015, at the Bintumani Conference Centre in Freetown.

It is understood that the country’s information minister – Alpha Kanu, who has always been one of the most loyal friends, and perhaps one of the strongest political allies of president Koroma, is now leading a mutinous faction against the president’s decision to appoint Victor Bockarie Foh as vice president.

The president is accused by key senior ministers and the mutinous faction within the party – especially the group known as the Temne tribal faction – led by Kanu, of failing to consult the rank and file members of the party before appointing Victor Foh as vice president.

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Concerned Citizens of Sierra Leone in the US continue their anti-Koroma protest  

Dennis Kabatto

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 April 2015

President Koroma - third from right  at the Ebola Recovery Plans High-level RoundtableThe group Concerned Sierra Leoneans – USA, say they subjected Sierra Leone’s Head of State – President Dr. Ernest Koroma to immense embarrassment last Friday in Washington.

About 100 protesters with placards, bullhorns and drums, demonstrated against President Koroma outside the World Bank Headquarters in Washington, where he was presenting his Ebola recovery plans for additional money and support during the financial institution’s annual meeting.

“The fact of the matter is, it is a shame that out of three West African leaders participating at the World Bank high level roundtable, President Koroma is the only president whose people came out in droves to demonstrate against him,” said protester Francis Joseph Mattia.

Concerned Sierra Leoneans USA, is calling for the Koroma administration to reinstate sacked Vice President Alhaji Sam Sumana, whose dismissal they say is unconstitutional.

They also say that the president must account for over $5.7 million in misappropriated Ebola funds, identified in Sierra Leone’s national audit service report released in February.

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Sierra Leone Constitution in serious peril

Francis Dumbuya

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 19 April 2015

president koroma sworn-in for second termThere is a political war brewing today in the small West African nation of Sierra Leone. And this war is perhaps the fiercest this nation has ever had to face; a war about the rule of law and how far a president can stretch the powers given to him by the Constitution.

The Constitution of a country, as it has come to be known by the civilized world is a legal and sacred document. It cannot be changed overnight to suit any single leader.

The framers of the Sierra Leone Constitution were brilliant constitutional lawyers who delineated the separation of powers well.

The constitution in a nutshell sets the guiding principles by which a free nation shall function and be governed. While designing it, the framers included enough limitations on the government to prevent any power grab by an overzealous politician.

In the current stalemate created by Ernest Koroma’s dismissal of his vice, the president argues that his actions are clearly within the purview of his Party’s constitution.

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Vice President Victor B Foh reminds of S I Koroma’s loyalty to Siaka Stevens

John Baimba Sesay – Freetown

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 19 April 2015

victor Foh in KambiaSierra Leone’s Vice President – Ambassador Victor Bockarie Foh has informed the indigenes of Port Loko district that, the growth and survival of the governing All People’s Congress is as a result of the untiring work, commitment and dedication to service by the founding fathers of the party, including the late SI Koroma, Siaka Stevens and CA Kamara-Taylor of blessed memories.

Vice President Foh spoke on Friday, 17th April, in Port Loko Township, during his tour of Kambia and Port Loko Districts, as part of the Ebola Social Mobilization drive, which was initiated by President Ernest Bai Koroma.

The visit was also aimed at encouraging the education sector in both districts to reopen all schools and educational institutions in every corner of Sierra Leone.

Addressing hundreds of indigenes of Port Loko, including Members of Parliament, Ministers, Paramount Chiefs, and party members, VP Foh said that, because of the good work Sorie Ibrahim Koroma did for Sierra Leone and the governing All People’s Congress (APC), there is need to always remember and pay outstanding tributes to him as well as all the founding fathers of the glorious APC party.

“We should be grateful to those who have worked hard for the growth of our Party, and that is why I am here to pay respect to late SI Koroma. My coming here is a home coming for me and my wife who is a citizen of Port Loko”.

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“Continued economic progress in Liberia – a more uneven picture in Sierra Leone”

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 17 April 2015

unemployed youthThe return to work continues in Liberia, led by gains for wage workers and the rural self-employed, while the picture remains mixed in Sierra Leone, where urban youth and the non-farm self-employed continued to lag behind.

This is according to the latest round of high-frequency mobile-phone surveys, conducted in both countries by the World Bank Group and partners, in order to assess how Ebola is impacting people’s livelihoods.

These findings come as heads of state from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea meet in Washington, DC at the World Bank Group’s Spring Meetings, sharing their Ebola recovery plans with finance and development ministers and international partners.

As Liberia approaches zero cases, and Sierra Leone sees promising declines in infection rates in recent weeks, it will be important to understand where economic recovery efforts should be targeted, and which people within each country need the most attention – both now and once the health crisis has fully abated, says a new report by the World Bank.

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‘You can come to the White House – but not alone’

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 April 2015

president koroma in washington - 2015

No special treat today at the White House for a president, who has grossly violated his country’s Constitution, and shown that he cannot be trusted either by the people of Sierra Leone or the White House. (Photo: President Koroma happily relaxing last night at his luxurious hotel bedroom in Washington, whilst his people are dying of Ebola and poverty in Sierra Leone).

According to sources, after last minute diplomatic shuffling by the UN, the World Bank and the IMF, president Obama finally agreed to meet with president Koroma, but only in the presence of presidents Sirleaf and Conde of Liberia and Guinea.

This last minute decision has saved a lot of embarrassment for the people of Sierra Leone, who really deserve better leadership to that which they currently endure.

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United Nations frowns on the banning of pregnant girls attending school

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 April 2015   

school children - Sierra Leone CARSchools across Sierra Leone were officially opened yesterday. But as predicted in several communities, only a handful of parents approved the government’s decision to reopen schools without adequate preparations that would guarantee the safety of ALL of their children.

Several schools reopened without access to water. Most classrooms are still unfit for human accommodation, with poor sanitation, broken desks and chairs – deplorable conditions that have characterised the standards of education and hindered quality of learning in schools.

But of noticeable absence yesterday, were the thousands of girls who are now pregnant – victims not of Ebola, but men who took advantage under the cloak of Ebola.

The policy of the government of Sierra Leone is not to allow pregnant school girls to return to school, thus further denying girls of their right to education as enshrined in the country’s Constitution and the UN Human Rights Charter.

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Ebola continues to pose a global threat – says WHO

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 14 April 2015

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of LiberiaAs West African leaders from the worst affected countries discuss strategies in Washington this week, aimed at bringing the Ebola crisis to an end, the numbers of new Ebola cases continue to rise in both Sierra Leone and Guinea – the two worst affected countries, though at a much slower pace and rate of increase.

In Washington, plans are being discussed with the World Bank and IMF, to ensure that not only the rate of increase is brought down to a sustainable zero, but that health systems in the affected countries are able to deal with future outbreaks.

So with the declining numbers of infected cases, is Ebola now making an exit as international medical staff that have provided much needed support and expertise, leave?

Last week, the World Health Organisation (WHO) met to discuss the state of the virus and prospects for the future. Whilst there was hope and optimism for sustainable zero cases in the three affected countries, WHO remains cautious.

The road to achieving sustained zero Ebola cases and the return to post-Ebola recovery, has began. But success will require a lot more concerted and honest efforts on the part of the three governments before the final destination is reached.

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Living with Ebola – Schools reopen in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 14 April 2015

miriams schoolHundreds of thousands, if not millions of children, are expected to return to school in Sierra Leone today, since the deadly Ebola brought the country close to paralysis last year.

But it is not certain how many parents will refuse to send their children to school today.

Several parents are concerned at the lack of preparedness by the government, in ensuring that schools are made safe, especially those used by health agencies as holding centres for suspected Ebola patients.

At the best of pre-Ebola times, sanitation and hygiene in most schools in Sierra Leone were poor.

Access to water for domestic use across the country, comes at a premium, let alone supplies to schools.

But Unicef says that they are helping the government and schools, through this critical transition phase.

At the best of times too, most schools are over-populated and with a very high pupil to teacher ratio. This will continue to pose serious risks to health and quality of education in the country.

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