Sierra Leone’s Vice President Seeks US Asylum

Samuel Sam-Sumana, Sierra Leone’s vice-President, has sought political asylum at the US embassy in the capital after soldiers surrounded his house.

Sam-Sumana said his wife had fled the residence but it is unclear if they are inside the embassy.
The move comes a week after his expulsion from the ruling party.
Two weeks ago, Sam-Sumana said he was putting himself in quarantine for 21 days after one of his bodyguards died of the Ebola virus. Police and army sources confirmed that troops were sent to the vice-president’s residence on Saturday morning.

They said the troops were dispatched to withdraw Sam-Sumana’s security detail, but would not say whose orders they were acting on.”I don’t feel safe this morning as vice-president,” he said. He added that he had spoken to John Hoover, the US Ambassador and is waiting for a response.

Meanwhile, Hollyn Green, US embassy spokeswoman, said embassy officials, including Hoover, had “seen the news” but could not provide any reaction.”There is no comment at the moment and there is no action on our part,” Green said.

Sam-Sumana was expelled from the ruling All People’s Congress party last week on allegations of “orchestrating political violence” and trying to form a new party in his home district of Kono.
He was also accused of falsifying academic credentials. He denied the allegations- calling them “baseless fabrications and lies” – and rejected calls for his resignation.
Under Sierra Leone’s constitution he cannot be sacked.

Relations between Sam-Sumana and President Ernest Bai Koroma have long been frosty. Sam-Sumana, 53, has been vice-president since 2007, when he first stood as Koroma’s running mate. President Koroma is now serving his second and final term.
According to a biography on the presidential website, Sam-Sumana has spent time studying and working in the US, and is an expert in diamond mining.

He said two weeks ago that he had chosen to be quarantined to “lead by example” in the battle against Ebola.

More than 3,500 people have died from Ebola in Sierra Leone, which along with Guinea and Liberia has seen the vast majority of deaths from the disease.

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