Africa  

Sierra Leone president orders government reshuffle

TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY ROD MAC JOHNSON AND JENNIFER O'MAHONY (FILES) This file photo taken on January 28, 2008 shows Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma (L) and his wife Sia arriving for a meeting with Britain's Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street in London.  As the president of Sierra Leone equivocates over signing a bill to extend abortion provision in a country with sky-high maternal mortality rates, its powerful religious authorities believe the battle against it is already lost. Sierra Leone's parliament passed a law in December allowing abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and in cases of rape and incest beyond that, replacing legislation from the early 19th century enabling terminations only if the mother's life is in danger.  / AFP / SHAUN CURRY

TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY ROD MAC JOHNSON AND JENNIFER O’MAHONY<br />(FILES) This file photo taken on January 28, 2008 shows Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma (L) and his wife Sia arriving for a meeting with Britain’s Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street in London.<br />As the president of Sierra Leone equivocates over signing a bill to extend abortion provision in a country with sky-high maternal mortality rates, its powerful religious authorities believe the battle against it is already lost. Sierra Leone’s parliament passed a law in December allowing abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and in cases of rape and incest beyond that, replacing legislation from the early 19th century enabling terminations only if the mother’s life is in danger.<br />/ AFP / SHAUN CURRY

Sierra Leone’s president carried out the biggest cabinet reshuffle of his nine-year tenure on Monday, firing four ministers and his army chief as he tries to reverse waning public support for his party.

President Ernest Bai Koroma appointed new interior and finance ministers and brought opposition leader Mohamed Bangura across the divide to install him as information minister.

Former finance minister Kaifala Marah will now head up Sierra Leone’s central bank, swapping places with bank governor Momodu Kargbo who takes up the economic portfolio in government.

Koroma’s new minister for tourism, Sidi Yahya Tunis, was formerly spokesman for the country’s National Ebola Response Centre during the latest outbreak.

All cabinet appointments are subject to parliamentary approval.

In total, 13 ministers were either fired or moved jobs.

Sierra Leone’s cabinet will now contain four female ministers in the environment, culture, social welfare and fisheries posts, compared with just one previously.

Koroma also replaced head of the armed forces Lieutenant General Samuel Omar Williams with the army chief’s deputy.

New ambassadors to Iran, China, the United Nations and United States were also named.

The reshuffle has been widely welcomed by the general public and is seen as an attempt by the government to ready his All People’s Congress party for elections in two years time.

“Koroma realised that the ruling party’s image was waning and needed a boost so that’s why he has made such a radical sweep. It is now clear that the president wants more productivity from his ministers,” said Sierra Leonean political analyst Sorie Kargbo.

The president is barred under the constitution from standing again after two terms in power. He was elected for the first time in 2007.



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