Koroma returns home, preaches peace

Sierra Leone’s former president Ernest Bai Koroma returned to the country on Tuesday and addressed his supporters calling for peace.

Koroma who is likely to face prosecution for corruption urged his successor to sustain his legacy of peace and development.

The former president ruled Sierra Leone for ten years, from 2007 to 2018.

He was succeeded by former junta leader Julius Maada Bio who defeated Samura Kamara picked by then ruling All People’s Congress (APC) party to take over from Mr Koroma.

Soon after coming to power in March, Mr Bio’s set up a presidential committee to investigate corruption under his predecessor’s government.

The committee in its Government Transition Team report recommended, among others, the creation of a commission of enquiry and the prosecution of anyone found culpable after finding massive corruption and misuse of office.

The Cabinet has approved the setting up of the commission which could see ex-president Koroma investigated.

Dozens of officials, including Mr Koroma, were listed in the report for involvement in one or more suspected corruption cases.

At the time the report was handed to President Bio, Mr Koroma was not in the country.

The report fuelled speculations about his fate with secrecy about his prolonged stay outside the country heightening the suppositions.

APC condemned the findings and faulted the way the government handled it.

It also condemned the imposition of a travel ban on affected officials, describing it as unconstitutional and said Mr Bio’s government was on a mission to destroy democracy in Sierra Leone.

On Mr Koroma’s stay out of the country, APC said he was vacationing in three countries.
He returned on Sunday through the country’s northern border with Guinea where he was received by party supporters amid tight security.

Prior to his return, a social media comment attributed to a senior official in President Bio’s government accused Mr Koroma of seeking to destabilise the country.

“Such messages send the wrong signal to the outside [world] and they can prevent development by sending off investors,” the former president told supporters in response to the remarks.

“No Sierra Leonean who remembers the recent history of the country will think about starting discord, not to mention of bringing in mercenaries,” he added.

He said that having served as president he could not imagine what else he would want that could warrant his engagement in any destabilising act.

Sierra Leone is overshadowed by a brutal civil war from 1991 to 2002.

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