Salem Radio Network News Tuesday, March 5, 2024

World

Sierra Leone ex-president is called in for questioning over attacks officials say was a failed coup

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (AP) — 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 Thursday.

The police summoned ex-President Ernest Bai Koroma to its headquarters “for questioning on the failed attempted coup” toward the end of last month, Information Minister Cherno Bah said in a statement. Koroma’s summons follows the earlier arrest of his former security aide.

Dozens of gunmen launched a brazen attack on Nov. 26 in the West African nation’s capital of Freetown during which they broke into Sierra Leone’s key armory and into a prison where the majority of the more than 2,000 inmates were freed.

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 honor 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 reelected for a second term in a disputed vote in June. Two months after he was reelected, police said they arrested several people, including senior military officers planning to use protests “to undermine peace.”

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