US urges Sierra Leone VP and government to resolve spat

AP News
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Posted: Mar 15, 2015 12:10 PM
US urges Sierra Leone VP and government to resolve spat

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (AP) — The United States on Sunday urged Sierra Leone's government and its vice president to resolve their differences through the rule of law.

Vice President Samuel Sam-Sumana on Saturday requested asylum from the United States, claiming that his life was in danger. Sierra Leone's ruling party denied that the vice president was under threat.

Sam-Sumana is not at the U.S. embassy in Freetown, an American official confirmed Sunday.

"Our embassy has been in contact with all relevant officials, and we urge all concerned to resolve the situation through appropriate procedures that respect due process and the rule of law," said the official who insisted on anonymity because of a lack of authorization to speak to the press about the issue.

Sam-Sumana was expelled on March 6 from the ruling All People's Congress party which accused him of "orchestrating political violence" and trying to form a new party in his home district.

On Saturday, Sam-Sumana asked the U.S. ambassador for asylum after soldiers came to his residence and disarmed his security team. He told The Associated Press he no longer felt safe in the country, saying he had been informed by top officials in the presidential guard that the soldiers were acting on orders from President Ernest Bai Koroma.

The government has not commented on the incident. Koroma was out of Freetown on Saturday, attending a meeting about Ebola in the northern district of Port Loko.

On Saturday night, however, the All People's Congress broadcast a statement on state media saying it had been informed of Sam-Sumana's asylum request.

"The party has at no point in time threatened the life of the vice president," the statement read.

The party also denied reports that Sam-Sumana's residence had been vandalized.

Sam-Sumana, who is under voluntary Ebola quarantine after one of his security personnel died of the disease last month, is in hiding, his whereabouts unknown.

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Associated Press writer Robbie Corey-Boulet contributed reporting from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.