Thursday, September 20, 2007

Sierra Leone leader pledges security

Sierra Leone's new President, Ernest Bai Koroma, has met outgoing government ministers to assure them of their safety after attacks on some of them.

Ernest Bai Koroma at a rallyMr Koroma said he had told the police to use all their powers to bring to justice those responsible for the violence that flared on Monday.

Former opposition leader Mr Koroma was elected president last week.

Wednesday's meeting took place in a frank and friendly atmosphere, the BBC's Umaru Fofana reports.

President Koroma described as "unfortunate and regrettable" the incidents of the last three days in which some outgoing cabinet members and their families were harassed.


"I want to assure you from this moment that we will enhance the security and let you move about in your normal duties," the president told the ministers.

"Let us move on as Sierra Leoneans."

The ministers will remain in their posts until a new cabinet is sworn in, which our correspondent says could take several weeks.

In the meantime, the working of the civil service has been compromised by events.

Outgoing Minister of Foreign Affairs Momodu Koroma said the meeting with the president had given him the assurance he had been looking for.

"It was meant to be a confidence building meeting and it was a confidence building meeting," he said.

At least one person died in brawls after the president was sworn in on Monday.

Police fired tear gas at a crowd that ransacked the office of the former ruling Sierra Leone People's Party.

BBC NEWS | Africa | S Leone leader pledges security