Sierra Leone Deputy Information Minister hails ‘Foreign Confidential’ Magazine for exonerating President Ernest Koroma
The Deputy Minister of Information and Communications, Hon. Sheka Tarawalli, has hailed the ’Foreign Confidential’ magazine for exonerating President Ernest Bai Koroma from false accusations in the recall of Mr. Michael Von Schulenburg by the United Nations. Since the former Executive Representative of the UN Secretary General ( ERSG ), Mr. Schulenburg, was recalled after virtually ending his tour of duty in Sierra Leone, the opposition had been falsely accusing President Koroma of orchestrating the ERSG’s departure. The UN and the Sierra Leone Government refuted the allegations but last week, a secret letter that Mr. Schulenburg had written the UN was purposedly leaked to the Reuters News Agency by the opposition because Mr. Schulenburg had repeated the opposition’s allegations that President Koroma had something to do with his departure.
However, over the weekend, the highly-credible and well-respected FOREIGN CONFIDENTIAL Magazine wrote authoritatively that “a controversial United Nations official stationed in Sierra Leone appears to have used his position to aid opposition figures ahead of national elections set for this November ..” The magazine went on to say that “Foreign Confidential™ has learned that the number of meetings that von der Schulenburg held with Bio and other opposition figures was unusually high. Informed sources in Freetown say the envoy’s anti-Government bias was well known among expats and foreign diplomats.”
Minister Tarawalli, who was in the U.S. on official duty , granted COCORIOKO an exclusive interview on the revelations by the Foreign Confidential magazine. He said he was relieved by the revelations made by the respected magazine because it buttressed the fact that if Mr. Schulenburg was forced out of Sierra Leone at all it was not because of any move by the government and President Koroma , but probably because of his own misdeeds which must have forced the UN to order his recall months before his tenure was to end . He said that it was refreshing that the ‘Foreign Confidential’ Magazine made it clear that even expatriates and foreign diplomats were aware of Schulenburg’s anti-government bias.
Mr. Tarawalli taunted the opposition SLPP for not depending on the ballot box to win elections .He said that the reason that the SLPP engaged in clandestine relations with the ERSG, as now exposed by Foreign Confidential , is that they have no respect for the ballot box or their ability to win elections . He said that, on the contrary, the APC believe in its ability to always defeat the SLPP at the polls so the government had no reason asking the UN to withdraw Mr.Schulenburg. The minister also condemned the SLPP for its penchant to distort stories and spread false propaganda against the APC, as was done during this Schulenburg issue.
Minister Tarawalli stated that on the basis of Mr. Schulenburg misconduct and anti-government bias which was known to foreign diplomats if President Koroma really wanted to interfere with his ‘s tenure in Sierra Leone, he would have declared him persona non grata as former President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah did to another UN Representative years back.
Mr. Tarawalli said that another important fact that has emerged is that it was not only in Sierra Leone that Mr. Schulenberg misbehaved and that he is in fact a controversial character who was not knew to controversy. The minister noted that Mr. Schulenberg’s controversial character should make nobody take his allegations against the APC Government and President Koroma seriously. It is now known that he is only a diplomat that likes to meddle in the internal affairs of any country he has been sent.
Mr. Tarawalli told COCORIOKO that the UN must have withdrawn Mr. Schulenburg to save their reputation as an impartial international organization responsible for promoting international peace and security.
READ THE REPORT IN THE FOREIGN CONFIDENTIAL MAGAZINE
UN Official Slams Sierra Leone Ahead of National Elections
Citizens of Recovering Country See Astonishing Action
as Meddling at Best, Regime Change Attempt at Worst
Mysterious Leak and Allegations of Bias
A controversial United Nations official stationed in Sierra Leone who appears to have used his position to aid opposition figures ahead of national elections set for this November has left the country, cutting short his stay in the West African nation by a year.
Moreover, in what may be an unprecedented action, the former envoy, Michael von der Schulenburg, asserted in a letter to UN headquarters that the organization’s credibility and Sierra Leone “success story” were threatened as a result of “unreasonable and unjustified demands” by the Sierra Leone Government for his early departure and “an effort to remove a potential obstacle [meaning himself] to … manipulating the election outcome” in favor of the incumbent President Ernest Bai Koroma.
The existence of the letter came to light after it was leaked to Reuters, which published a story about the letter on Monday. The content and style of the story–click here
to read it–somewhat resembles a newsrelease
rather than a news article, making Reuters look more like a public relations service than a press agency for disseminating the piece.
The leaker’s identity has not been made public as of this writing.
Both the UN and the Sierra Leone President have denied that von der Schulenburg was pushed out of his job. Click here
for a relevant report.
Elections in Sierra Leone this November come a decade after the end of an 11-year civil war that left over 50,000 dead. The conflict came to an end in 2002, after a British military intervention practically supplanted a weak and ineffective UN peacekeeping mission.
Although UN troops withdrew from Sierra Leone in 2005, the world body retains a 200-person mission with a mandate to help ensure the forthcoming election is peaceful and credible. President Koroma will be challenged by an estimated 10 candidates, including his main opponent, a former military leader, BrigadierJulius Maada Bio
No Stranger to Controversy
Foreign Confidential™ has learned that the number of meetings that von der Schulenburg held with Bio and other opposition figures was unusually high. Informed sources in Freetown say the envoy’s anti-Government bias was well known among expats and foreign diplomats.
“He [von der Schulenburg] was most undiplomatic in the way he went about backing Bio,” a source says.
Von der Schulenburg
, who worked in what the UN describes as its “peacebuilding” division, is no stranger to controversy–and to controversial letter writing. In December 2000, he resigned as Director of the Division for Operations and Analysis of the UN Drug Control Program (UNDCP). In his letter of resignation
he severely criticized the head of the UNDCP’s parent agency, accusing his superior of being “the worst manager,” guilty of “taking irrational decisions” and of turning the UNDCP into “an organization that has increased its international visibility while at the same time is crumbling under the weight of promises that it is unable to meet under a management style that has demoralized, intimidated and paralyzed its staff.” (Among the “promises” that upset van der Schulenberg for allegedly having had been made but not kept: a 1997 pledge to Afghanistan’s drug dealing Taliban regime for $250 million in “alternative work program” funding. Apparently, von der Schulenburg would have been happy to have seen the monsters get the money.)
The fact that the 24-page ”PERSONAL/CONFIDENTIAL” resignation letter has long been available online has fueled speculation that von der Schulenburg was responsible for leaking his Sierra Leone letter to Reuters.
More recently, von der Schulenburg has been formally accused of physically abusing a staff member; and he has been dogged by persistent rumors that during an assignment in Iran he was noticeably sympathetic to the Islamist regime–whilst inappropriately exporting Persian carpets.