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Sierra Leonean President Reduces Fuel Prices

President Ernest Bai Koroma reverses a nearly month-long increase after threats of strike by the human rights group The National Youth Coalition

In a nationwide broadcast over state radio and television, President Ernest Bai Koroma has reversed a 27-day increase in the price of fuel.

On May 1, the country changed from an imperial system of measurement to metric. The changes also saw an increase in fuel prices by a little over a dollar per litre. This caused a rapid increase in the price of local commodities, prompting the human rights group, the National Youth Coalition, to issue a 21-day strike notice if prices were not returned to their earlier levels.

Sierra Leonean President Reduces Fuel Prices
Sierra Leonean President Reduces Fuel Prices

The president blamed the increase in fuel prices on instability in some oil producing countries and natural disasters in rice producing countries in Asia.

But as commodity prices and transport fares rose, the public outcry grew stronger. Twenty-seven days later the president reacted by reversing the price increase and suspending a 10% tax on imported rice.

National Youth Coalition President Ishmail Al-Sankoh Conteh says it is a welcome move.

"We have agreed as a coalition to call the demonstration off with immediate effect," he said, "because the president has heard the cry of the people. He has listened to the call of the coalition. So, we have no alternative but to cooperate and also call on all well-meaning Sierra Leoneans to actually to adhere to the statement of [the president] that collectively we will have no disturbances."

Over 24 hours after the broadcast commodity prices remain the same.