Ex-Sierra Leone president Koroma to be questioned over ‘failed coup’

Former Sierra Leone president Ernest Bai Koroma in Freetown, on November 17, 2012 [File: Joe Penney/Reuters]

Koroma, who strongly condemned the attack, said he was ‘ready to support the police investigations to the fullest’.

A former president of Sierra Leone has been called in for questioning by police over recent attacks that officials say was a failed coup, an official said on Thursday.

The police summoned ex-president Ernest Bai Koroma to its headquarters “for questioning on the failed attempted coup” on November 26, information minister Cherno Bah said in a statement.

Koroma, who led the West African nation for 11 years until 2018, has been asked to appear at the criminal investigations department in the capital, Freetown, within 24 hours, the information ministry said.

His summons follows the earlier arrest of his former security aide.

Dozens of gunmen launched a brazen attack last month in Freetown during which they broke into Sierra Leone’s key armoury and into a prison, freeing most of the more than 2,000 inmates.

At least 18 members of the security forces were killed during the clashes, while more than 50 suspects – including military officers – have been arrested so far.

Among those arrested was Amadu Koita, who worked as a security guard for Koroma until 2018 when the former president left office. Police on Wednesday released an image that they say shows Koita with a gun in a surveillance photo captured when the prison was attacked. A bodyguard of the former president was also killed during the attack.

Koroma said that he would honour the police summons, and asked his supporters to be calm, according to a statement issued by his office.

“I maintain an open mind and stand ready to support the police investigations to the fullest. Let the rule of law reign supreme in our democracy,” said the former president who had “strongly condemned” the attack when it happened.

Although he has officially retired from politics, Koroma remains an influential figure within his political party and often hosts prominent politicians in his hometown of Makeni.

There have been political tensions in Sierra Leone since President Julius Maada Bio was re-elected for a second term in a disputed vote in June. Two months after he was re-elected, police said they arrested several people, including senior military officers planning to use protests “to undermine peace”.



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