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The Africa Confidential Blog

  • 26th June 2018

SIERRA LEONE: Incoming government uncovers massive fraud under Koroma's rule

Patrick Smith

This week, we wanted to let you know about another exclusive Africa Confidential report – this time on a devastating report on corruption and fraud in Sierra Leone over the past eight years. We also want to flag up upcoming coverage of the two assassination attempts – in Ethiopia and Zimbabwe – and their political implications.

SIERRA LEONE: Incoming government uncovers massive fraud under Koroma's rule
The new government's transition team has produced a 130-page report, seen by Africa Confidential, listing details of wholesale diversion of state funds, improper sale of public assets and serial fraud under the government of President Ernest Bai Koroma. We understand this sensitive report will arrive on the desk of new President Julius Maada Bio in the next few days but Africa Confidential will publish on 28 June its analysis of the winners and losers in what appears to have been a far-reaching system of political patronage.

It goes into details about the misuse of monies intended for education and the Ebola crisis, and illicit support for business people close to the then-ruling All People's Congress. The transition team has recommended a special investigation into the state's losses that could run into hundreds of millions billions of dollars.

One of the most extreme cases is the government's sale of its 30% stake in the profitable Sierra Rutile company in 2012 at an extremely low price. Africa Confidentialhas spoken to several people in the mining industry with knowledge of the transaction and will report on how the deal worked, who was involved and what could be its international consequences.

ETHIOPIA: Prime Minister Abiy pushes ahead with Eritrea rapprochement and reforms despite grenade attack
Sending a clear message, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to Addis Ababa Airport to welcome a delegation from Eritrea on 26 June arriving in Ethopia to open talks on implementing the Algiers Accord to end conclusively the border war between the two states.  This follows a grenade attack on Abiy on 23 June as he was addressing a rally of around 500,000 people in Meskel Square in the capital. Dozens, possibly over 100, were injured.

Several senior police officers have been arrested, apparently for negligence, in the wake of the attack but Abiy has gone on state television insisting that it would not derail his reforms which include opening up the economy and releasing thousands of prisoners. Last week, Abiy said the security services and police would end their brutal tactics under his government.  This follows an extensive reshuffle in the senior ranks of the security system. There are also signs of a new policy on
Somalia.

ZIMBABWE: Opposition sceptical about government calls for a peace pact in wake of attack on  President Mnangagwa
Nelson Chamisa, presidential candidate of the opposition MDC Alliance, has reiterated his doubts about the government's commitment to free and fair elections and characterised its call for a peace accord between the rival political parties as a stunt. Speaking to the BBC World Service on 26 June, Chamisa said the problem in Zimbabwe was mainly violence by the state against opposition parties and their supporters. Chamisa condemned the attack on Mnangagwa on 23 June, in which the government says that two people died, but said it was caused by faction-fighting within ZANU-PF.

Neither Mnangagwa nor Chamisa turned up at the signing of the peace accord on 26 June. Nor has the government or the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission responded to the MDC's concerns about the lack of access to the full electoral register and other restrictions, exacerbating concerns about the credibility of the election due on 20 July, acceptance of its results.

THE WEEK AHEAD IN VERY BRIEF

SOUTH SUDAN
President Salva Kiirand Riek Machar open second round of peace talks in Khartoum under eyes of Sudan's President Omer el-Beshir and Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni

MALI
Civil servants' strike over pay and security could threaten the organisation of national elections due on 29 July after another spate of attacks in the central region

NIGERIA
Plateau state imposes a curfew after herder-farmer clashes kill over 80 in weekend attacks raising fresh questions about central government's policies on the crisis