By Abdul Malik Bangura
One of the most outstanding and hardworking Ambassadors under the reign of former President Ernest Bai Koroma has survived an embarrassing coup d’état at his Mission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Ambassador Osman Keh Kamara, the outgoing Ambassador accredited to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Permanent Representative to the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) together with his Deputy Ambassador, Mr. Ismeal Koroma and two other diplomatic agents – Abdul Karim Koroma and Joseph Kalokoh at our Embassy are faced with embarrassment after the Minister Counsellor and Head of Chancery, Mr. Ibrahim Vandi Kondoh sent a Note Verbale to the Ethiopian Government, the Africa Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa to inform them that our political appointed diplomats have all been relieved by President Rtd Brigadier Julius Maada Bio.
Indeed, according to an earlier Executive Order from State House, the President had unknowingly relieved all political appointed diplomats against the 30th of April, 2018. However, after thorough consultations, I learnt President Bio was later properly briefed and formal Recall Letters signed by him were sent to all political appointed diplomats to submit their repatriation costs to the Foreign Ministry for necessary action and to stay in their respective Missions until their final repatriation packages are sent to them.
These letters have been complied with and the Ambassadors including other political appointees are now waiting for their repatriation costs in other to take formal leave of the Heads of State/Governments of their respective host countries.
Against, this backdrop, the Minister Counsellor and Head of Chancery in Addis Ababa, who had eyed the ambassadorial seat set forth to unlawfully embarrass Sierra Leone against the wishes of His Excellency the President, Rtd Brigadier Julius Maada Bio.
The Note Verbale by the so-called Minister Counsellor and Head of Chancery of the Embassy of Sierra Leone in Addis Ababa, Mr. Ibrahim Vandi Kondoh (an old man of over 60 years and who does not seem to understand the act of diplomacy) sent to the Diplomatic Missions, according to many, is been viewed as the worse diplomatic embarrassment President Bio’s administration has faced with since the new President came to office. The negative and sarcastic comments from the Diplomatic Community against the author of this Note Verbale are rife.
The insinuation that four Diplomatic agents have been relieved from their duties effective 1st May 2018, is undiplomatic and totally uncalled for in the practice of diplomacy. A western diplomat who spoke to me says ‘the action of Mr. Ibrahim Vandi Kondoh has the likelihood of preventing some of the would-be Ambassadors from being accredited or granted ‘agreement’ by the proposed host countries. This is because, the diplomatic disrespect against Ambassadors and diplomats are not only against the Ambassadors and other diplomats themselves but also against the countries of which they are accredited to.
It is unethical and a big diplomatic disgrace on the part of the Head of Chancery, Mr. Ibrahim Vandi Kondoh to even think that he will assume the position of ‘head of mission and Chargé d’ Affaires’ when the substantive and duly accredited Ambassador Extra Ordinary and Plenipotentiary is still at post, has not been officially repatriated and has not taken leave of the host country’s President.
The Note Verbale by the so-called Minister Counsellor and Head of Chancery has been described by the Diplomatic community in Ethiopia as a comedy show as if Sierra Leone does not have competent people to handle the position of Head of Chancery. The same Executive Order this unaccomplished Character parading as Head of Chancery is referring-to even affects himself because he has reached the required age of 60 years, which is the mandatory age of retirement in the Civil Service.
My sources say Mr. Ibrahim Vandi Kondoh who circularized such a letter and criminally announced and appointed himself as the ‘head of mission’ without the approval from State House and the Foreign Ministry is illegitimate because he himself has completed his mandatory four years tour of duty and he has been requested by the Foreign Ministry couple of months ago to submit his repatriation cost, which he has not yet submitted or has deliberately refused to do so.
After the Minister Counsellor and Head of Chancery received his recall notification letter, my source say he responded by writing a very insulting, nasty and derogatory letter to the Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In fact, sources in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs say he is bragging that President Bio will appoint him as Ambassador to Ethiopia because he is a mende by tribe and he would not honour any previous letter requesting him to submit his repatriation cost. I am also made to understand that he is using his tribe to intimidate other staff members at the Embassy in Addis Ababa including the local staffs whom he has threatened to relieve them of their duties if they fail to take instructions from him.
My source furthered that Mr. Ibrahim Vandi Kondoh falsely told local staffs at the Embassy in Addis Ababa that the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have assured him that he would be appointed as the Ambassador to Ethiopia. He also stated that President Bio has personally assured him that his appointment would be finalized and announced very soon.
Mr. Ibrahim Vandi Kondoh, my sources say, is boasting that he is under instructions from President Bio and the incoming Director General in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Paul Minah to write such a criminal letter announcing himself as head of mission when the substantive Ambassador is still at post. The Ambassador and his Deputy and the two diplomatic officers are awaiting directives (repatriation costs) from Freetown and he is yet to take formal leave of the President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission and the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa in accordance with the customs and diplomatic practice.
This is by far one of the worse diplomatic blunders, embarrassment and disgrace Sierra Leone has faced in Ethiopia, which is the headquarters of the African Union, the citadel of African diplomacy.
Another western diplomat who spoke to me says the Government of President Bio should be very mindful of such miscreants like Mr. Ibrahim Vandi Kondoh and many others who are parading themselves as mende people at the Foreign Ministry who are boasting that they are going to wipe out all northerners in the Ministry. He expressed fear over the level of vindictiveness displayed in the so-called letter sent to the Diplomatic Community in Ethiopia by Mr. Ibrahim Vandi Kondoh.
Reliable sources at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have however disclosed that Mr. Ibrahim Vandi Kondoh did not receive any instruction or directive from the Ministry to embark on such a scandalous and ill mannered behavior to embarrass the country in his desperation to become the substantive Ambassador. Every diplomatic Mission in Ethiopia was stunned by the action of the so-called Head of Chancery who does not seem to follow the exact procedure on how to communicate the end of tour of duty of an Ambassador and diplomatic officers.
I am made to understand by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation that the usual practice is that when an Ambassador and diplomatic staff complete their tour of duty or recalled, they will be required to submit their repatriation costs. Upon receipt of the repatriation costs, the Head of Mission will then schedule a date to take formal leave of the President of the host country. Since Ethiopia is a multilateral station the Envoy will have to take leave of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission and the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa – due to the multilateral component of this Mission. The communication informing the Diplomatic Community will then be dispatched immediately the Ambassador departs or leaves the shores of his duty station to his country.
Clearly, the conduct of Mr. Ibrahim Vandi Kondoh of the Addis Ababa Mission has undoubtedly brought Sierra Leone to disrepute. His action is certainly out of moral steps and legal norms of diplomacy thus, absolutely and terribly unfortunate for the image of the country and the new Government.
I am thoroughly embarrassed as a Sierra Leonean. Mr. Ibrahim Vandi Kondoh is the only Head of Chancery who has behaved in such a reckless and stupid manner.
Meanwhile, attached is the letter from Mr. Ibrahim Vandi Kondoh to all diplomats in Addis Ababa as well as photo of Mr. Ibrahim Vandi Kondoh.
*© ABDUL MALIK BANGURA*