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Why the President Walked Around Without Guards in Sierra Leone
By Sylvia Olayinka Blyden
Nov 19, 2008, 17:20
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President Ernest Bai Koroma has expressed a desire to get a real feel of what ordinary Sierra Leoneans might wish to say to him. The President was responding to a question posed to him by this writer as to why he had risked walking around the streets of Freetown with virtually no armed bodyguards on the first anniversary of his Nov 15th Inauguration.

President shown at his Inauguration: He is still a Very Popular Leader!

"I wanted to get a real feel of what was happening around my people without the paraphernalia of security and aides. I wanted them to feel free to talk to me, one to one, about just what was happening in their lives," the President patiently explained.

"I wanted to hear of how they were faring. I wanted to directly hear from them what were their problems; I also wanted to listen to any suggestions of possible solutions to any problems they had," he continued.

It was a fascinating sight to behold. There was no camera and no press-men in tow. A simply dressed Head of State walked around the capital, stopping unannounced at popular trading spots to ask questions of and chat with the citizens he was leading.

As monitored by this presshouse, President Koroma suddenly materialized in front of the Awareness Times offices at the PZ Trading area last Saturday November 15th 2008, with minimal security. He then spent time chatting with citizens in the area before he moved over to other parts of the city like to where the female shrimps sellers place their produce, to the Sweissy area, the BASE area, the Booksellers by the Park and the STOP PRESS restaurant.

At the Stop Press Entertainment Spot which is usually full of opposition supporters and critically-minded journalists, the President, who used to frequent Stop Press before he became President, walked in unannounced but to a warm welcome that saw even vocally critical opposition SLPP Secretary General, Jacob Jusu Saffa fraternising with him. Speaking to this writer about his visit to Stop Press, President Koroma light-heartedly remarked that he went there to "have a drink with friends". Asked what he drank at Stop Press, His Excellency responded, "a cold refreshing bottle of Coke".

The reaction from the public about the spontaneous move by President Koroma to mingle with ordinary Sierra Leoneans has been extremely positive.

© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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