Ernest Bai Koroma

Ernest Bai Koroma is the fourth and current President of Sierra Leone.

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Ernest Bai Koroma (born October 2, 1953) is the fourth and current President of Sierra Leone. He was sworn in as President on September 17, 2007 at the State House in the capital Freetown, shortly after being declared the winner in a tense run-off in the 2007 Sierra Leone presidential election with 54.6% of the vote as the candidate of the main opposition All People's Congress (APC); over the incumbent Vice President Solomon Berewa of the ruling Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) who gain 45.4% and conceded defeat [1]. International and local observers assessed the election as free, fair and credible [2].

Koroma succeeded Ahmad Tejan Kabbah as president, who was constitutionally ineligible to run for the presidency again after serving the maximum two five-year term limit. In his inauguration speech, Koroma promised zero tolerance on corruption and said he will fight against the mismanagement of the country's resources [3][4].

Koroma is the leader of the ruling All People's Congress (APC) and was previously a member of Parliament of Sierra Leone representing his home District of Bombali from 2002 to 2007. In 2005 he was elected the minority leader of Parliament and remain in that position until his election to the Presidency on September 17, 2007. He is a 1976 graduate of the Fourah Bay College with a Bachelor of Arts.[1]

An insurance executive by professore, Koroma spent over twenty four years working in the private insurance industry before entering politics in 2001. From 1988 to 2002, Koroma was the Managing Director of the Reliance Insurance Trust Corporation (Ritcorp), one of the largest insurance companies in Sierra Leone.

Koroma is Sierra Leone's first Head of State from the Temne ethnic group. He fluently speaks four languages: English, Krio, Temne and Limba.

On April 16, 2009, Koroma was re-elected unopposed by the APC as the party's presidential candidate for his second and final term in the 2012 Sierra Leone presidential election at the APC National Delegates convention held in Koroma's hometown in the northern city of Makeni. His main opponent for the presidency will be former military head of state retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio of the main opposition Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP).[5][6].

Early life and education

Ernest Bai Koroma was born on October 2, 1953, in Makeni,[2] Bombali District in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone. Koroma was born of christian parentage in the predominantly Muslim north and a devout Christian himself. Koroma's father, Sylvanus Koroma was of Loko and Temne parentage. Pa Sylvanus was a very religious christian and he spent years working as a bible school teacher at the Wesleyan Church in Makeni.[3][4] Pa Sylvanus Koroma was also a strong supporter of president Siaka Stevens' APC government. Ernest Bai Koroma's mother, Madam Alice Koroma (June 27, 1932 – July 6, 2012), was an ethnic Limba from the small rural town of Kamabai, Bombali District. Maddam Alice Koroma spent almost her entire career working as a primary school teacher in Makeni. Madam Alice Koroma served in the Makeni city council in the 1960s as a member of the All People's Congress (APC). Maddam Alice Koroma was a longtime member of the APC political party under the leadership of Siaka Stevens and she was a strong supporter of Siaka Stevens' APC government.

Koroma is an ethnic Temne and was raised in a predominantly Temne household in Makeni. He is also a fluent speaker of the Temne language . Koroma grew up in a religious Christian household in Makeni and he regularly attended church services with his siblings at the Wesleyan church in Makeni, where his parents were longtime members of the congregation.

Koroma attended the Sierra Leone Church Primary School in Makeni, and then proceeded to the Magburaka Government Secondary School for Boys in Magburaka, Tonkolili District, (about 25 miles from his hometown of Makeni) where he graduated in 1973.[5]

Upon graduation from secondary school, Koroma moved to the capital Freetown to attend the Fourah Bay College. He graduated from the Fourah Bay College in 1976 with a degree in Business Management.

Soon After graduating from the Fourah Bay College, Koroma was employed as a teacher at the St. Francis Secondary School in his hometown of Makeni from 1976 to 1978.

Career in the insurance industry

Koroma joined the Sierra Leone National Insurance Company in 1978. In 1985, he joined the Reliance Insurance Trust Corporation (Ritcorp), and in 1988, he became Managing Director of Ritcorp, remaining in that position for 14 years.[6]

Marriage and family

Koroma is married to Sia Nyama Koroma, the daughter of former Sierra Leone's Attorney General Abu Aiah Koroma. Sia Nyama Koroma is a biochemist and an ethnic Kono from Kono District. Sia Koroma holds a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Chemistry and a Masters in Biochemistry. She is also a Psychiatric Nurse trained and qualified in Great Britain. The couple were married on October 18, 1986 at the King Memorial UMC Church in Freetown [7]. Together they have two daughters, Alice and Danke Koroma. The first daughter Alice Koroma was born in Freetown and she is named after Maddam Alice Koroma, the mother of Ernest Bai Koroma. The second daughter Danke Koroma was born in London and she is named after Danke Evelyn Koroma, the mother of Koroma's wife Sia Nyama Koroma. Both of his daughters are attending university in the United Kingdom.

Political career

Why the President of Sierra Leone and his Vice President can't fixed or repair the Kono road even though both of them have root there. I hope they lose this election. Bold text'



Fixed

2009 APC Convention

On April 16, 2009, Koroma was re-elected unopposed by the APC as the party's presidential candidate in the 2012 Sierra Leone presidential election at the APC National Delegates convention held in Makeni. Several senior members of the country's main opposition party the Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) and the country's third major party the PMDC were invited as special guests at the convention to promote peace and National Reconciliation across the country, following the tense general elections in 2007. Those in attendance at the convention included John Oponjo Benjamin, the leader of the main opposition the SLPP; and Charles Francis Margai, the Leader of the country's third major party the PMDC. http://sierraleoneagenda.org/articles/2009/apr_2009/article_20090418_1.aspx [8][9].

Run for APC leadership



President Bai Koroma arrives at the 11th summit of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference in Dakar, Senegal: March 12, 2008.

In 2002 it was announced that the All People's Congress (APC) would hold their convention to elect a new leader that would challenge president Ahmad Tejan Kabbah of the SLPP who faces re-election for a second five-year term. Ernest Bai Koroma, then an Insurance broker from the northern district of Bombali who was virtually unknown in Sierra Leone announced his candidacy for the leadership of the All People's Congress (APC) ahead of the 2002 Sierra Leone presidential and parliamentary elections. He was one of seven candidates for the APC leadership.

Koroma was a clear underdog to longtime APC leader Edward Turay who was the favorite and was expected to easily win the APC leadership yet again. Koroma stressed that under the APC leadership of Edward Turay, the party had lost a significant number of seats in parliament and had lost trust among Sierra Leoneans, even in its traditional stronghold in Northern Sierra Leone. Koroma said the party will continue to lose even more support unless the party moves to a new direction that will care more about the interest of Sierra Leoneans.

Koroma was elected leader of the All People's Congress (APC) on March 24, 2002, at a national convention of the party held in the northern town of Kabala, Koinadugu District ahead of the 2002 Sierra Leone Presidential and Parliamentary Elections. Koroma received received 370 votes from APC delegates, while 12 delegates voted against him and the remainder abstained.[7]

2002 presidential and parliamentary election

In the 2002 Sierra Leone presidential election Koroma received 22.3% of the vote as the APC presidential candidate, losing in a landslide to incumbent President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah of the Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP), who received 70.1% and was shortly sworn in for a new five-year term.[8] In the parliamentary election, Koroma was elected to a seat from Bombali District.[9]

Court case

Embattled by series of court case against his youthful leadership and executive and the 2002 APC Constitution, Koroma was eventually stripped off his de jure leadership of the APC by the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone on June 22, 2005. He was however again unanimously elected as Leader and presidential candidate of the APC ahead of the 2007 Sierra Leone presidential and parliamentary elections at APC National Delegates Convention held on September 3, 2005 in the northern town of Port Loko. The internal party dispute was said to be resolved in April 2007, mainly between Koroma and Edward Turay, with Koroma being accepted by APC dissidents as the party's leader ahead of the 2007 general election.[10][11]

Under his leadership, the APC swept virtually all the seats in the Western Area and the Northern Province during the local government elections of 2004. This was in spite of the fact that some of the old guard of the APC dismissed his leadership as a matter of child's play.

Presidency

The Koroma presidency have focused upon rebuilding the country's national infrastructure after the Civil War, fighting corruption, improving the country's health care system. In April 2010, Koroma sign into law the country's free health care program for pregnant women, nursing mothers and children under the age of five.[12] Koroma has focused on free-market solutions, attracting more private investment.

On September 4, 2008, Koroma declared his assets to the Sierra Leone Anti-corruption Commission and signed into law the country's new Anti-Corruption Bill of 2008 at the State House in Freetown. [10] [11]. Under the new law, it is compulsory for the president and other government officials to declare their assets and update them annually.

Koroma has given the country's anti-corruption commission more powers to investigate and prosecute corrupt officials.[13] Since coming to power in 2007, Koroma has dismissed several government ministers associated with corruption, including two of his ministers indicted on corruption charges by the Sierra Leone anti-corruption commission.

Relations with UK

The British government has continued to provide large scale aid and advice, with former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Tony Blair continuing to work closely with the Sierra Leone government and speak out for investment in Sierra Leone. At Koroma's request, Blair created a nine person board to advise the government on foreign investment.[14] The UK continues to be the largest donor to Sierra Leone, giving more money per person than to any other nation, and promising to raise aid by a further 50 million pounds sterling in 2010...[15] Although peace has surely come to Sierra Leone, President Koroma was still thankful to Tony Blair for such an immense role he played in securing peace for Sierra Leone, something he acknowledged the Sierra Leone media and many here will never forget; [12]. The Everlasting Legacy of Tony Blair in Sierra Leone], By Muctaru Wurie.</ref> In a recent BBC report [13] by Humphrey Hawksley, some British diplomats and aid workers raised concerns about the slow pace of development in the country stressing on the problem of corruption, and asking whether almost a decade after the war – British military and post-war aid assistance has gone in vain as the country still struggle with poverty and massive unemployment.

Reforms

Koroma pushed through arrest and prosecution authority for the Sierra Leone Anti-corruption Commission, and naming former Human Rights lawyer Abdul Tejan-Cole its head immediately after his election.[16] The government has spoken of transitioning from large scale aid to private investment in the nation, sought to boost the nascent Tourist industry, signed deals for more extensive Mobile phone service,[17] began a wide scale public sector reform program aimed at cutting government waste, and given greater powers to the government Ombudsman.[18]

Forest protection

At the same time, Koroma inaugurated a large new national park at Gola Forest,[19] and banned exports by logging companies, singling out Chinese-owned companies, which he accused of "plundering" the nation's forests.[20]

Relations with Zimbabwe

President Koroma has also controversially been one of the few African leaders to strongly condemn Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe.[21]

Drug trade

In July 2008, Koroma pledged to crack down on cocaine trafficking in Sierra Leone, after a large drug bust of an aircraft loaded with cocaine at the national airport.[22][23]

Candidate



A man passes, in Freetown, posters for APC candidate Koroma (foreground) and the ruling SLPP ahead of presidential elections, August 6, 2007.

Koroma was the APC presidential candidate in the August 2007 general election. His main rival for the presidency of Sierra Leone was incumbent Vice-President Solomon Berewa of the SLPP. Koroma stronghold was in Northern Sierra Leone, and in the Western Area of Sierra Leone. Berewa, on the other hand, maintained strong support in south-eastern Sierra Leone.

Koroma was allegedly the target of an assassination attempt in the early hours of July 23, 2007 in Bo, Sierra Leone's second largest city (a traditional stronghold of the SLPP), when, according to the APC, a group of armed men led by Tom Nyuma, who was a participant in the 1992 coup that ousted the APC from power, attempted to enter Koroma's hotel room to kill him.[24] Nyuma was severely beaten by Koroma's guards, and he was hospitalized as a result.[25] According to another version of events, however, there was no assassination attempt and the claim was invented to justify the beating of Nyuma.[26]

Election

In the first round of the 2007 presidential election in Sierra Leone, held on August 11, Koroma garnered 44.3% of the votes, ahead of Solomon Berewa of the ruling SLPP, who received 38.3%. This was not enough to win outright,[27] and a run-off election was held on September 8.[28]

In an interview with Reuters on September 13, Koroma said that he wanted to run the country "like a business concern", emphasize agriculture and tourism rather than mining, and fight firmly against corruption.[29]

On September 17, the Sierra Leone National Electoral Commission declared Koroma to be the winner of the election with 54.6% of the vote,[30] although the SLPP disputed the results.[31] He was sworn in later on the same day[32] at a ceremony attended by Berewa and Kabbah.[33]

On September 21, Koroma left Sierra Leone for a diplomatic visit to neighboring Guinea and Liberia, his first trip outside the country as President.[34]

Koroma took a notably long time to name his Cabinet ministers, doing so in stages.[35] The first group of 10 ministers was named on October 8,[36] and another 10 were named on October 12.[37] According to Koroma, he was willing to take additional time to find the right people;[35] others, however, speculated that the delay was due to maneuvering within the APC for Cabinet positions.[35][36]

Inauguration

Koroma was formally inaugurated in Freetown on November 15, 2007[38] at a ceremony attended by seven other African leaders.[39] On this occasion, he promised to fight corruption and emphasized the importance of changing people's attitudes towards corruption.[38][39]

Koroma promised zero tolerance on corruption, to fight against the mismanagement of the country's resources and that he "would run Sierra Leone like a business concern", emphasizing agriculture and tourism. He further promised his government will increase the GDP per capita; reduce poverty and increase jobs; pledged the provision of electricity not only in the urban areas, but to all parts of Sierra Leone.[40]

The inauguration ceremony was attended by several African Head of State and representatives of other world leaders and organizations, including Nigerian president Umaru Yar'Adua, Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade, Gambian president Yahya Jammeh, Burkina Faso's president Blaise Compaoré, Malian president Amadou Toumani Touré, Guinean Prime Minister Lansana Kouyaté and United States Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer.

Election violence

In August 2008, fighting between supporters of Koroma's All People's Congress (APC) party and opposition Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) erupted in Freetown and the country's second largest city of Bo in the run up to municipal elections, with ruling party supporters charged with attacking opposition members and journalists. Koroma promised to crack down on such violence.[41]

Cabinet

References

  1. http://www.zoominfo.com/people/Stevens_Siaka_199497193.aspx
  2. Makeni is the nearest city, but some sources suggest that he was born in Makari Gbanti chiefdom. Kandeh, Mariama (April 2, 2008). "Sierra Leone: Makari Gbanti Women Suffer Violations". Concord Times (Freetown, Sierra Leone). Archived from the original on August 30, 2012. http://allafrica.com/stories/200804030155.html.
  3. Tarawalie, Sheka (July 5, 2008). ""Independent journalist" Sheka Tarawallie crawls his way into the bosom of Ernest Bai Koroma". The Sierra Herald. Archived from the original on July 9, 2008. http://www.sierraherald.com/shekito-crawler.htm.
  4. Sawyerr, Ralph (June 28, 2011). "President Koroma honours his late father Sylvanus Koroma at memorial service and launched a new foundation in his memory". Newstime Africa. http://www.newstimeafrica.com/archives/20925.
  5. http://www.kiva.org/app.php?page=businesses&action=about&id=85571
  6. Mohamed Samura, "Profile: Ernest Bai Koroma, Sierra Leone’s new head of state", African Press Agency, October 1, 2007.
  7. Sierra Leone News Archives, March 2002, sierra-leone.org.
  8. "SIERRA LEONE: New cabinet announced", IRIN-WA Weekly Roundup 124, May 18–24, 2002.
  9. Sierra Leone News Archives, May 2002, sierra-leone.org.
  10. Sayoh Kamara, "APC Gets Final Peace in Sierra Leone", Awareness Times, April 5, 2007.
  11. "Sierra Leone’s main opposition party settles internal dispute", African Press Agency, April 6, 2007.
  12. SL leader pledges graft crackdown. November 15, 2007.
  13. Can S Leone flush away corruption?. BBC. Mark Doyle. January 23, 2009.
  14. Blair pushes Sierra Leone tourism. BBC. April 28, 2009
  15. Paradise regained in Sierra Leone. The Independent (London) May 2, 2009.
  16. S Leone president declares assets. BBC. September 1, 2008.
  17. Sierratel joins CDMA network today. Awoko (Freetown). April 24, 2009
  18. Sierra Leone: Office of the Ombudsman Empowered/Koroma approves public sector reform. Mohamed Massaquoi, Concord Times (Freetown). April 24, 2009
  19. Sierra Leone sets up forest park . BBC. December 10, 2007.
  20. Sierra Leone bans timber exports. BBC. January 15, 2008.
  21. Mugabe aide tells West: 'Go hang'. BBC. July 1, 2008.
  22. S Leone pledges cocaine crackdown. BBC. July 22, 2008.
  23. COCAINE CASE NEARLY IMPLODES: PRESIDENT INTERVENES. WikiLeaks December 25, 2010.
  24. Alpha Kanu, "Statement issued by the All People's Congress in Sierra Leone", Awareness Times (news.sl), July 24, 2007.
  25. James Butty, "Sierra Leone Investigates Alleged Attempted Assassination", VOA News, July 24, 2007.
  26. Sia Tiyaama, "Prof. Sia Tiyaama Exposes Assassination Hoax Timeline of APC & Standard Times in Sierra Leone", Awareness Times, July 27, 2007.
  27. "Freetown opposition party wins majority", Reuters (IOL), August 24, 2007.
  28. "Presidential runoff in Sierra Leone went smoothly, observers say, urging calm as votes counted", Associated Press (International Herald Tribune), September 9, 2007.
  29. Katrina Manson, "SLeone leader vows to fight corruption", Reuters (IOL), September 14, 2007.
  30. Rod MacJohnson, "Sierra Leone gets a new leader", AFP (The Times, South Africa), September 17, 2007.
  31. "S Leone run-off results questioned", Al Jazeera, September 16, 2007.
  32. Katrina Manson and Christo Johnson, "Koroma pledges healing in Sierra Leone", Reuters (IOL), September 18, 2007.
  33. "Sierra Leone's new leader sworn in", Al Jazeera, September 18, 2007.
  34. Saliou Samb, "New leader seeks deeper regional ties", Reuters (IOL), September 21, 2007.
  35. "Sierra Leonean leader’s piecemeal cabinet appointments", African Press Agency, October 16, 2007.
  36. "New Sierra Leonean leader appoints first cabinet", African Press Agency, October 9, 2007.
  37. "Sierra Leone: Ten more new cabinet appointments made", African Press Agency, October 13, 2007.
  38. "Sierra Leone's New President Inaugurated", VOA News, November 15, 2007.
  39. "SL leader pledges graft crackdown", BBC News, November 15, 2007.
  40. Sierra Leone's President H.E. Ernest Bai Koroma Inaugurated in Freetown. Government of Liberia. November 15, 2007
  41. Unrest 'appals' S Leone leaders . BBC. August 14, 2008.