- President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone has announced urgent plans to tighten his country's drug laws so that harsh penalties could be imposed on those found guilty of drug-related crimes.
President Koroma's message, contained in a radio and television broadcast on Tuesday, was triggered by the recent US $100 million cocaine bust.
"Cabinet has approved a bill drafted with the assistance of the UN Office on Drug Control to strengthen the legislative framework and the bill will be taken to parliament within the next 72 hours for enactment under a certificate of urgency," he said.
The bill, which is expected to be passed without delay, will make it possible for drug offences convictions to carry a mandatory sentence. Once it become a law, Sierra Leone's weak approach towards those found guilty of narcotic trafficking will go to jail instead of paying a fine to become free.
The discovery of 600kg of cocaine in a Venezuelan plane after it had made a forceful landing in Lungi International Airport on 13 July had created fury among Sierra Leone's leadership.
Carrying a fake Red Cross emblem, the small aircraft landed in Sierra Leone without authorisation.
In recent times, West Africa has become a major transit point for drugs from South America en route to Europe. But the recent seizure is believed to be the biggest in Sierra Leone.
President wondered why the number of drug suspects is increasing when 58 suspects - eight foreigners - have been detained in connection with seized cocaine valued at US $200m.
"On no account will Sierra Leone be used either as a direct entry point or a final destination for the international trade in narcotics," President Koroma warned.
"I would like to assure the general public and the international community that on no account will our country be used either as a direct transit point or a final destination for the international trade of narcotics," announcing that there will be "no sacred cows in the treatment of suspects."
Sierra Leonean leader said he had sought technical support from Britain for investigation.
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