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Three Seats Added to Sierra Leone Cabinet

Two sacked in week-end reshuffle

In what observers say is unprecedented in the history of Sierra Leone, Information Minister Ibrahim Ben Kargbo drove to the state broadcasting station at two o'clock Saturday morning to announce the cabinet changes after half the country had gone to bed.

Three Seats Added to Sierra Leone Cabinet
Three Seats Added to Sierra Leone Cabinet

The Justice and Trade Ministers were sacked, while three new ministries were created increasing the cabinet strength from 23 to 26. The new ministries are Youth Employment and Sports, Political and Public Affairs, and Internal Affairs.

Fourteen ministries changed hands with eight new appointments, three of whom were promoted from deputy to full ministers. The most notable is foreign minister Zainab Bangura who now goes on to head the Health Ministry. Her replacement is veteran politican James Bandabla Dauda who has served as finance minister and as vice president.

Political analysts say that the cabinet changes come ahead of the 2012 elections for which President Ernest Bai Koroma is determined to run for a second term in office.

President Ernest Bai Koroma
President Ernest Bai Koroma

However the new cabinet falls short of opposition demands for regional balance. Although the representation of southern and eastern candidates has increased, over 60 percent of the cabinet are drawn from the north, which is the traditional stronghold of the ruling All Peoples Congress.

Political analysts say if the president fails to get the regional balance right, he risks dividing the country along tribal or ethnic lines.