Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Sierra Leone fires anti-graft tax collector

Freetown - Sierra Leone's new government, which has set fighting corruption as one of its priorities, on Tuesday sacked the head of the country's anti-corruption body and the chief state tax collector, state radio said. Joko Smart, a one-time appeals court judge was replaced by a retired solicitor-general Abdul Tejan-Cole but no reasons were given for the dismissal. The commissioner general of the country's national revenue collection agency John Karimu was also fired, according to a statement read on radio. Britain, the former colonial ruler and external backer of Sierra Leone's drive against corruption earlier this year slammed the west African's country's anti-graft watchdog for performing below expectations. A Freetown-based British diplomat Robert Collett in May this year said prosecution of graft cases by the anti-corruption body had been slow and that there has not been any high profile cases successfully prosecuted. Then opposition All People's Congress (APC) and its leader Ernest Bai Koroma last month beat the graft-tainted former government in elections hailed as democratic, vowing to root out corruption from the war-scarred and diamond-rich but desperately impoverished country. - AFP