From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Sierra Leone Government is Upset with Civil Society for Expressing Opinions on Joe Koroma's 'Demotion'
By Bampia James Bundu Jnr.
Nov 19, 2010, 17:18

The All People’s Congress (APC) government has slammed insinuations that the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Joseph Koroma was either sacked or demoted.

A press release from the Office of the President condemned ‘certain sections’ of the media for suggesting that the newly appointed ambassador to China was fired, whilst emphasizing that Joseph Koroma was neither sacked nor demoted.

The release said Koroma’s appointment to represent Sierra Leone in China underscores how serious the President considers the bilateral relationship between the two countries, noting that the ambassador designate is suitably qualified.

Earlier, journalists, political commentators and civil society activists used words like demotion and sack to describe the removal of the Fisheries Minister from Fisheries and his re-appointment to serve as Ambassador in China.

“The appointment of Joseph Koroma as the new Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China is absolutely a demotion,” Umaru Fofana, President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) said on national television.

The SLAJ President however pointed out that the rationale for the decision of President Koroma to demote ‘a close confidant’ is yet unclear, adding that it is still being widely debated.

“Irrespective of the fact that Sierra Leone has very strong ties with China, the fact that a whole cabinet minister could be relieved of his duties to serve as an ambassador leaves much to be desired,” Fofana said, whilst emphasizing that the position of a cabinet minister is far superior to that of an ambassador.

Another point of concern which was raised by Umaru Fofana was the fact that the re-deployment of Joseph Koroma came in the wake of series of serious allegations of the minister’s involvement in some shady deals.

“Though the numerous serious allegations in local tabloids are yet to be proven, the removal of the minister from that all-important ministry has raised more eyebrows,” the SLAJ President emphasized, whilst pointing out that serious allegations that the minister was receiving two different salaries, among others, still needs to be properly investigated.

Civil Society Activist cum Political Commentator, Fallah Ensah Ndema, who also strongly believes that Joseph Koroma has been demoted, argued that a cabinet minister is an assistant to the President, whilst an ambassador, in his words, “is a mere representative of the country” who is answerable to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

He however stated that decisions to reshuffle ministers are purely the prerogative of the President, but emphasized that the President surely must have a reason for "demoting a minister".

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