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February 21, 2013

Sierra Leone to Inaugurate President Koroma Friday

by Peter Clottey

Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma’s inauguration for a second five-year term in office will take place as planned Friday despite opposition threats to boycott the ceremony.

Presidential adviser Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo says the opposition’s threat to protest the inauguration is unlikely to affect the ceremony, noting that Koroma won the majority of the presidential vote last November.

“The president is mobilizing the entire citizenry to be part of this inauguration,” Kargbo said. “He will also receive delegates from other countries, especially from ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States] for the purposes of continuing to promote the concept of the fraternity that is part of the ECOWAS system.”

Kargbo, the former information minister, says several delegations from around the world have confirmed their participation in Friday’s ceremony.

But some opposition members have threatened to boycott the inauguration citing what they said was voter irregularities during the balloting. 

“I do not think any boycott from them will interfere with the success of the inauguration. The country is united and the president’s popularity continues to rise across the country,” said Kargbo.

“As a government, we are not going to stop the opposition from making such complaints,” he said. “This is a democracy and they have access to the judiciary and they can also lodge formal complaints.”

The country’s electoral body declared Koroma winner of the presidential election with 58.7 percent of the vote, defeating main opposition leader Julius Maada Bio, who gathered 37.4 percent of the total ballots.

Both local and international poll observer groups declared the election credible.

“We are almost forgetting about this claim that the elections were not credible,” Kargbo said. “We have made the point that not only did the United States of America declare the elections as fair and transparent, the European Union did the same thing. The ECOWAS countries, the African Union and all those people who came here to be part of the process also made it very clear that the elections were transparent and fair.”

He says President Koroma will work with opposition groups as part of an effort to improve the lives of all Sierra Leoneans.

“The president’s determination to work with the opposition is not in dispute at all. In fact you only need to look at the cabinet, which he just appointed, to discover that he has taken into consideration everybody in the country, and the geopolitical structure of the state, and this is now representative of the cabinet itself,” said Kargbo.
Clottey interview with Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo, presidential adviser