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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09FREETOWN388 2009-09-29 15:43:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Freetown
Cable title:  

PRESIDENT KOROMA SPEAKS PUBLICLY ON GUINEA

Tags:   PGOV PREL PINS PINR GV SL 
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1. (U) President Koroma held a press conference on September
29 to discuss his participation in the UNGA. Members of the
media used the opportunity to pose questions to the President
about the situation in Guinea, which he called a "critical
development." He stated that he is "still digesting" the
September 28 events, and is observing and monitoring the
situation closely. He noted that the international community,
Mano River Union (MRU), and ECOWAS must stay engaged, and
said that the chairs of ECOWAS and the MRU are being called
upon to put in place "mechanisms to keep things from
deteriorating further." Koroma said that he is endeavoring to
contact Guinean leadership to remind them that they must
"help restore (the country) to normalcy, as they promised."
Koroma interrupted his press event to take a call from Guinea
(which he did not elaborate upon when he returned), and then
departed with the Guinean Ambassador and his interpreter in
tow at the conclusion of the conference.



2. (C) Koroma had multiple opportunities to condemn the
September 28 killings, but failed to do so. The President has
never publicly criticized the junta, and at times has even
seemed to ingratiate himself to Dadis and his people
(reftel). His unwillingness to condemn the unwarranted
violence demonstrate that Dadis can continue pushing the
envelope as far as his neighbor is concerned - Koroma will
likely only speak out against the junta if their problems
spill into Sierra Leone, or if they threaten Sierra Leone's
territorial integrity. This is a disappointing stance for a
President who lauds the importance of democracy, and governs
a country that itself experienced the devastating effects of
military coups and unjust governance. Koroma's reticence to
show his mettle to Dadis and the sub-region in the face of
recent events demonstrates once again that he will only rock
the boat when the resultant waves are felt far from his
shores. On this particular issue, however, the press and
public may not allow Koroma the luxury of neutrality; Sierra
Leoneans are concerned about the violence, both due to their
almost familial closeness to Guinea, and to the possibility
that it could easily lead to instability here. End comment.
FEDZER