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Former Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma Faces Treason Charges Amid Coup Attempt Fallout

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In a significant development, former Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma has been charged with four counts of treason in connection with an attempted coup that unfolded last November. Gunmen infiltrated a military armoury and multiple prisons in Freetown during the incident, leading to the release of nearly 2,000 inmates and resulting in approximately 20 fatalities.

 

Mr. Koroma has vehemently denied any involvement in the attack, which has plunged the nation into political turmoil. The unfolding events have seen West African leaders intervening, attempting to broker a deal that would allow Koroma to go into exile in Nigeria, contingent upon the dropping of charges. The BBC has obtained a letter indicating that Mr. Koroma had agreed to such a deal, brokered by the regional group Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas).

 

However, the Sierra Leone government has distanced itself from this proposition, with Foreign Minister Timothy Kabba labeling it a unilateral move by the president of the Ecowas Commission. The refusal to support the deal has further heightened tensions in Sierra Leone, with the political landscape becoming increasingly polarized.

 

Supporters of Mr. Koroma expressed their distress in court as the charges were formally presented. His legal representative, Joseph Kamara, expressed shock and disbelief, contending that the charges set a dangerous precedent. Kamara emphasized that dragging a democratically elected former head of state through what he labeled as “trumped-up charges” amounted to a political vendetta.

 

Ernest Bai Koroma has been under house arrest since the investigation into the coup attempt began. He served as president for 11 years until 2018 when the current President, Julius Maada Bio, assumed office. The attempted coup occurred five months after a disputed election, where President Bio secured a narrow re-election for a second term. The results were contested by Mr. Koroma’s All People’s Congress, and international observers criticized the election process, citing a lack of transparency in the count.

See also  Nigeria Open To Talks With Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger Despite Coups — Tinubu

 

As Sierra Leone grapples with the aftermath of the attempted coup and the subsequent legal proceedings against a former head of state, the nation faces a critical juncture in its political trajectory. The unfolding events will undoubtedly shape the political landscape and have lasting implications for the West African country.


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