Tongues wag as Sierra Leone president names his academic supervisor to the cabinet

Wednesday May 2 2018

Newly elected Sierra Leonean President Julius Maada Bio.

Sierra Leonean President Julius Maada Bio. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

KEMO CHAM
By KEMO CHAM
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Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio has sparked a controversy by appointing his doctoral programme supervisor to the cabinet.

Questions were also being raised about the constitutionality of Prof David Francis's appointment as Chief Minister.

President Bio created the post on Tuesday as he announced the second instalment of ministerial appointments.

Prof Francis is the head of the Presidential Transition Team set up to take stock of the activities of the former regime.

Doctoral programme

He is also the academic supervisor of President Bio’s doctoral programme at the UK-based Bradford University.

It was unclear if his post would replace the State House Chief of Staff.

President Bio also named his campaign manager in the March election, Dr Alie Kabba, as Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation minister.

A total of 18 new appointments, among them 13 ministers, were made. President Bio had on April 12 appointment 12 ministers.

Tuesday’s appointments also saw the inclusion of fresh faces in cabinet, with two more women, raising their tally to four.

Unsuccessful Freetown mayoral aspirant and academic, Mr Raymond de’Souza George, was named the Works and Public Assets minister, while a former minister in the Ernest Bai Koroma administration, Mr Peter Bayuku Conteh, who crossed to the opposition National Grand Coalition (NGC), was named Trade and Industry minister.

A presidential statement said more appointments would be made.

His predecessor

However, it was already clear that there would be a bigger cabinet in the new administration.

Already 27 cabinet members have been appointed, compared to 23 when Mr Koroma left office.

It was also unclear if President Bio would follow his predecessor’s tradition of appointing deputy ministers, given his campaign promise of cutting down on government spending.

The composition of the cabinet, however, showed the national cohesion the president championed, against the backdrop of a highly divisive election.

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