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Sierra Leone - Government and Political Conditions (Notes)

Sierra Leone is a republic with an executive president and a multi-party system of government with a 124-seat parliament (112 elected members and 12 paramount chiefs). Presidential and legislative elections were scheduled for July 28, 2007, but have been postponed until August 2007 to allow parliament to complete its 5-year term and adjourn on June 25. The 2007 elections will be notable for their return to a constituency-based system, as called for in the 1991 constitution. In preparation for the elections, Sierra Leone has redrawn parliament?s constituency boundaries for the first time since 1985. The incumbent Sierra Leone People?s Party (SLPP) has a strong advantage going into these elections and maintains its traditional support in the south and east of the country; however, population increases in the northern part of the country and in the Western Area (where Freetown is located), may benefit the opposition All People?s Congress (APC). In 2005, Charles Margai, a former SLPP member, formed a new party, the People?s Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC), which could potentially draw support away from the SLPP.

The judicial system consists of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, High Court of Justice, and magistrate courts. The president appoints and parliament approves justices for the three courts. Local chieftaincy courts administer customary law with lay judges; appeals from these lower courts are heard by the superior courts. Judicial presence outside the capital district remains limited, which contributes to excessive delays in the justice system. Although magistrate courts function in all 12 judicial districts, magistrates appointed to those courts did not reside there permanently and complained that they had insufficient resources to do their job. Justices of the peace or customary law partially fill the gap. Civil rights and religious freedom are respected. A critical press continues to operate, although journalists and editors are occasionally arrested for publishing articles the government considers inflammatory.

In 2000 the Government of Sierra Leone promulgated the Anti-Corruption Act to combat endemic corruption. The Anti Corruption Commission has not been able to secure convictions of high-level government officials, but has worked to raise national awareness of the problem and build in safeguards in ?corruption hotspot? ministries.

The basic unit of local government outside the Western Area has generally been the chiefdom, headed by a paramount chief, who is elected for a life term. In May 2004, however, the first local government elections in 32 years were held in 311 wards nationwide. There are now 12 district councils and 5 town councils outside the Western Area. The Western Area has a rural area council and a city council for Freetown, the nation?s capital. The local councils are gradually assuming responsibility for functions previously carried out by the central government. As devolution progresses, chiefdom and council authorities are starting to work together to collect taxes. While district and town councils are responsible for service delivery, chiefdom authorities maintain their own infrastructure of police and courts, which are also funded by local taxes.

Principal Government Officials
President and Minister of Defense--Ahmad Tejan Kabbah
Vice President--Solomon Berewa
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Momodu Koroma
Minister of Finance--John Benjamin
Minister of Development and Economic Planning--Mohammed Daramy
Attorney General and Minister of Justice--Frederick Carew
Minister of Local Government and Community Development--Sidikie Brima
Minister of Information and Broadcasting--Septimus Kaikai
Minister of Internal Affairs--Pascal Egbenda
Minister of Mineral Resources--Mohamed Deen
Minister for Trade and Industry--Dr. Kadi Sesay
Minister of Agriculture and Food Security--Dr. Sama Mondeh
Minister of Energy and Power--Lloyd During
Minister of Labor--Alpha Timbo
Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children?s Affairs--Shirley Gbujama
Minister of Lands, Housing, Country Planning, and Environment--Dr. Alfred Bobson Sesay
Minister of Marine Resources--Dr. Chernor Jalloh
Minister of Transport and Communications--Dr. Prince Harding
Minister of Works, Housing and Technical Maintenance--Dr. Caiser Boima
Minister of Health--Abbator Thomas
Minister of Tourism and Culture--Okere Adams
Central Bank Governor--Dr. James Rogers
Ambassador to the U.S.--Alhaji Sulaiman Tejan-Jalloh

Sierra Leone maintains an embassy in the United States at 1701 19th Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20009, tel. 202-939-9261,; and a permanent mission to the United Nations in New York at 245 East 49th Street, New York, New York 10017, tel. (212) 688-1656.

Facts at a Glance: Geography - People - Government - Economy - Communications - Transportation - Military - Climate - Current Time - Ranking Positions
Notes and Commentary: People - Economy - Government and Political Conditions - Historical Highlights - Foreign Relations - Relations with U.S.

Facts at a Glance
Current Time
Ranking Positions

Notes and Commentary
Government and Political Conditions
Historical Highlights
Foreign Relations
Relations with U.S.

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