Sierra Leonean opponent Samura Kamara during a meeting in Grafton, a suburb of Freetown, June 19, 2023. JOHN WESSELS / AFP
Hunched over his laptop, Sierra Leone’s opposition presidential candidate, Samura Kamara, types a document that looks like an endless block of text. The 72-year-old man, candidate of the All Peoples Congress (APC), wants his revenge, Saturday June 24, on the outgoing president, Julius Maada Bio, against whom he lost in a close ballot five years ago. years.
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When AFP met him on the eve of the publication of his campaign promises, he wrote an article on the judicial system of this small West African country. Former Governor of the Central Bank, Minister of Finance and Foreign Affairs when Ernest Bai Koroma, of his political side, was head of state from 2007 to 2018, Mr. Kamara is readily described as a meticulous technocrat. Asked about the country’s economy, he talks for twenty-five minutes without stopping and cites data that goes back decades.
“It’s time for me to move from CFO to CEO”, he told AFP. Mr. Kamara plans to reorganize the agricultural and mining sectors, stop the flight of foreign currency and restore confidence in the local currency and economic institutions. He insists on national cohesion to attract investment. A poll by the Institute for Governance Reform (IGR) predicts 56% of the vote for Mr. Bio, against 43% for Mr. Kamara.
“He is tireless”
In December 2021, the latter was accused of embezzling more than $2.5 million in public funds in a case relating to the planned renovation of a consulate in New York when he was foreign secretary. The trial, which he said was politically motivated, reopened in February just after he was chosen as the APC’s presidential candidate. “He wants to be with the people, but he is still in court,” says lawyer Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara. His trial has been adjourned to July 14.
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When Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, an APC leader and candidate for a second term as mayor of Freetown, first met Mr. Kamara in 2010, she immediately noted his professionalism. “He is tirelessdescribes one of his former colleagues. We review our work five times before bringing it to him. In the civil service in Sierra Leone, professionals don’t take the time to do their best, they just tick boxes. He doesn’t allow it.”, says this official. In his spare time, Mr. Kamara can be found at the Freetown Dinner Club or on tennis courts, some of his friends say.
Samura Kamara promised to accept the results of the presidential election. “President Bio and I are friendshe told AFP. If we meet, we say hello. We are in the same church. I served him, he knows me, he knows my work. » Mr. Kamara was secretary of state for finance to Julius Maada Bio when the latter was at the head of a ruling junta in 1996.