Sierra Leone president names new VP after firing predecessor

AP News
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Posted: Mar 19, 2015 5:21 PM
Sierra Leone president names new VP after firing predecessor

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (AP) — Sierra Leone swore in a new vice president on Thursday, even as the man who was fired from the post a day earlier vowed to challenge his removal in court.

In a ceremony shown on state television, President Ernest Bai Koroma swore in Victor Foh, who was until recently the West African nation's ambassador to China. Foh, 68, was once a senior official in the Finance Ministry and is also a former secretary-general of the ruling party, the All People's Congress.

Koroma removed Samuel Sam-Sumana from the vice president's post on Wednesday, citing his recent expulsion from the All People's Congress. Sam-Sumana said in a statement that his removal was unconstitutional and that he will challenge it in the supreme court. He signed the statement as the "elected vice president of Sierra Leone."

A group of good governance organizations in Sierra Leone said Thursday that they also thought the removal was unconstitutional and warned it could easily create instability, noting that the country has only recently emerged from years of civil war. They urged the president to reverse the decision "to ease the rising tension."

The firing came after weeks of intrigue. Earlier this month, the All People's Congress expelled Sam-Sumana, making several accusations against him, including that he was instigating unrest. He has denied the accusations, and it unclear what triggered the dispute in the Ebola-hit West African nation.

After the expulsion, Sam-Sumana said his security team was disarmed, and he fled his residence in fear. He then sought asylum with the U.S. Embassy, which did not grant the request. He returned to his residence only to be fired.

All along, the ousted vice president was supposed to be observing a voluntary quarantine because one of his body guards had died of Ebola. His 21-day incubation period ended Tuesday.