- Ernest Bai Koroma has been officially inaugurated as the President of Sierra Leone in the capital Freedom on Thursday. Koroma has once again renewed his resolve to battle graft in the government system.
President Koroma, 54, took over from the country’s outgoing leader Ahmed Tejan Kabbah after winning the elections under the banner of the Action People’s Congress (APC). The elections were declared credible by international observers. The elections followed his oath taking.
The former insurance expert stood before thousands of people, including some African heads of state at Freetown stadium to renew his government’s zero tolerance on corruption.
"We will exercise zero tolerance towards corruption,“ he said, urging the need for attitudinal change, or else “we shall never be able to create the prosperous nation that we dream about.“
Sierra Leone had gone through a decade-long brutal civil war that had left its scar on the social fabric of the country and its people. But Koroma asked people to work hard and unite to develop the war-ravaged but resources opulent country.
"I have no doubt, that like the Phoenix, we shall rise from the ashes of war and rise like the proud nation that we are, the Athens of West Africa," he proudly said.
The APC loyalists who were dressed in red and white colour attires could be seen in jubilatory mood. The ceremony was marred by traditional dancing and drumming.
But officials of the deposed ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) snubbed the inauguration in protest at the dismissal of the Central Bank Governor Dr. James D. Rogers. The dismissed Governor, who was replaced by Dr. Samura Kamara, is a supporter of SLPP.
Sierra Leonean leader also expressed resolve to reform the judiciary and civil service, remove obstacles to investment as well as improve the lives of ordinary people by providing “an environment where things get done and people are accountable for success or failure.”
The public is anxiously waiting for the Koroma regime to make public a leaked confidential government cataloguing high level corruption in the deposed government.
The new Information Minister Ibrahim Kargbo promised that the report will be made public sooner or later. He said some senior members of the past government tampered with state funds, donor funds, and that the international community is appropriately most unhappy about it.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch is also concern about the government’s failure to stem rampant corruption, five after the end of the brutal armed conflict that robbed citizens of their basic human rights.
“The time of turning a blind eye has passed: President Koroma’s administration must face the problems of corruption head on, and take concrete steps to ensure better economic governance,” said Peter Takirambudde, Africa Director at Human Rights Watch.
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