Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio has unveiled his first cabinet, naming veteran politician and lawyer Charles Francis Margai as Attorney General and Justice minister.
Mr Margai was one of 16 candidates who contested the March 7 first round presidential election. He backed Brig (Rtd) Bio in the second round on March 31.
The veteran politician’s father and uncle, both of who served as prime ministers, were among the founders of the governing Sierra Leone's People's Party (SLPP).
Mr Margai ditched his kins’ party in 2007 after losing the contest to lead it in presidential elections that year. He formed the People’s Movement for Democratic Change (MPDC), which joined forces with President Ernest Bai Koroma’s All People’s Congress (APC) to defeat SLPP in a hotly contested run-off.
Mr Margai soon fell out with President Koroma who he accused of undermining his party.
His appointment will particularly provoke questions around the commitment of the new president to his campaign promise of separating the office of Attorney General from the Justice ministry, which has been seen as a hindrance to justice delivery.
A total of 12 ministers were named on Thursday, including those for Finance, Health and Energy.
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Former World Bank development expert Jacob Jusu Saffa takes over the Finance ministry, while medical scientist and renowned educationist, Dr Alpha Wurie, was given the Health docket.
Primary and Secondary Education went to Dr Alpha Ousman Timbo and the Energy went to Mr Kanja Sesay.
Other ministerial appointments include Information and Communication (Mohamed Swaray), Marine Resources (Mrs Emms Kowa), Labour and Social Security (Adenkunle Joliff Milton-King), Water Resources (Dr Jonathan Tengbe), and Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs (Ms Baindu Dassama).
There were also appointments for Internal Affairs (Edward A. Suluku) and Deputy Defence minister, (Brig (Rtd) Simeon N. Sheriff.
Mr Sahr Lahai Jusu was named Financial Secretary.
Approval of parliament
President Bio also named his long term personal assistant Yusuf Keketoma Sandi, as Press Secretary.
All ministerial appointments are subject to the approval of parliament, whose new members are slated to be sworn in next Tuesday.
The statement from the Presidency said further appointments were expected in due course.
Thursday’s appointments came a few days before the expiry of the mandate of a Presidential Transition Team set up to take stock and ascertain the state of affairs under the Ernest Bai Koroma administration.