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Sierra Leone President Koroma ‘Assures’ VP of Protection

  • Peter Clottey

FILE - Sierra Leonean Vice President Samuel Sam-Sumana, shown in Freetown in October 2012, says he's feeling well but "decided to be put under quarantine because I do not want to take chances."

FILE - Sierra Leonean Vice President Samuel Sam-Sumana, shown in Freetown in October 2012, says he's feeling well but "decided to be put under quarantine because I do not want to take chances."

Sierra Leone President Earnest Bai Koroma said embattled Vice President Samuel Sam-Sumana should not fear for his life or feel threatened by the prevailing conditions in the country, according to government spokesman Abdulai Bayraytay.

Bayraytay said there is no reason why Sam-Sumana should fear for his life, due to the president’s assurance.

Sam-Sumana went into hiding and expressed concern about his safety after his guards were abruptly disarmed and changed without his knowledge or approval.

He reportedly reached out to the American Embassy, seeking asylum. But government spokesman Bayraytay said both the vice president and his wife are safe and secure.

'No reason' to fear for life

“There is no reason for the vice president to fear for his life, the reason being he remains the incumbent vice president. He was only one expelled from the All People’s Congress, the party under whose ticket he came into governance,” Bayraytay said.

“I had a chat with the president who said there is no reason for the vice president to feel threatened, because he can assure his safety and security, and that the issue about him, even saying he wanted political asylum from the U.S. Embassy is a little bit exaggerated, the reason being there is no reason for that,” he added.

But supporters of the vice president said there is an orchestrated effort from the president and the ruling party leadership to humiliate Sam-Sumana. They said as head of the police and other security agencies in the country as enshrined in the constitution, the vice president should have been informed about the impending change of his bodyguards.

Bayraytay disagrees. He said the police administration can change bodyguards without consultations.

“We announced to the public that new security arrangements are being put in place, wherein we have a joint leadership of the Sierra Leone police and the military. They are now in charge of the presidential fleets of guards. The presidents guards were changed just as how any other ministers’ guards were changed,” Bayraytay said.

“When it comes to that it is more of an internal security arrangement and decision undertaken by the Sierra Leone police without having to consult the politicians. So, this is what happened," he added.

"And besides, the vice president is also on [Ebola] quarantine, which means some of those guards that are also in quarantine they need to disarm them so that they can redeploy other people with arms just to ensure continued safety of the vice president himself," the spokesman said.

Ebola Quarantine

Sam-Sumana is currently under self-imposed, 21-day quarantine after one of his guards recently died of Ebola. His supporters have questioned the haste in changing the guards when the leadership of the security agencies could have waited until he completes his quarantine.

But Bayraytay reiterates that it is the duty of the police administration to rotate guards. He said President Koroma reassured the U.S. ambassador to Sierra Leone about the vice president’s safety in a telephone conversation.

“The president has said personally and publicly that there is no course for alarm for the safety of the vice president,” Bayraytay said. “The ambassador to Sierra Leone even called President Koroma and President Koroma in my presence assured him that everything is OK and there is no cause for alarm, and the vice president should continue to live his normal life.”

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