Sierra Leone president begins ‘farewell tour’

Sierra Leone's President Ernest Bai Koroma. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma has embarked on a nationwide farewell tour, the presidency announced.

President Koroma, at the head of a high profile entourage of mainly bigwigs and supporters of the governing All Peoples Congress (APC) party, left Freetown Tuesday evening and headed straight for the opposition stronghold eastern district of Kenema.

A statement from State House said the presidential tour was meant to thank the people for according him the opportunity to serve them for two terms.

But the composition of the tour party has left little doubt about its mission: On board the entourage is the APC’s presidential candidate Samura Kamara and his running mate Chernor Bah.

The presidential statement said Koroma would be highlighting his achievements over the last 10 years “and present his likely successor … who would build on those achievements” to the people.

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President Koroma recently criticised people 'who stayed away from the country' while his government went through the trouble of developing it, for now seeking to govern it.

APC is facing a stiff challenge particularly from two other strong contenders. One of them is the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) candidate, former junta leader Brigadier (Rtd) Julius Maada Bio, who will be taking a second chance at the race after 2012.

There is also a former UN official, Dr Kandeh Yumkella, who is running under the newly established National Grand Coalition (NGC). Mr Yumkella appears to have changed the political dynamics from what used to be a two-horse race between the APC and SLPP, to a three horse race.

UN official

He particularly appeals to the youths and the educated elites from the Western Area (Freetown). Some analysts have interpreted that as posing the greatest threat to APC.

President Koroma’s comment on rival candidates was widely viewed as directed at the former UN official.

Sierra Leoneans go to the polls on March 7, 2018 to vote for president, lawmakers and local council officials.

President Koroma was under pressure from both his party, where critics continue to question the mode of selection of Mr Kamara, and an opposition which was proving too probing for the man that was yet to prove himself after several public appearances since his appointment.

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From Kenema, President Koroma was expected to head to the south and then the north.

The nine days tour is expected to conclude on December 28.

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