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Cablegate: President Launches National Anti-Corruption

VZCZCXRO7858
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHFN #0235 1401641
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 191641Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY FREETOWN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1920
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS FREETOWN 000235

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM SL
SUBJECT: PRESIDENT LAUNCHES NATIONAL ANTI-CORRUPTION
STRATEGY

REF: FREETOWN 153

1. SUMMARY: President Earnest Bai Koroma officially launched
the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS) on May 19, 2008.
This strategy represents a comprehensive approach to
combating corruption and includes: objectives and activities
for government ministries beyond the Anti-Corruption
Commission (ACC); the outline of a National Integrity System;
and plans for continued partnership between the state, civil
society, and the private sector. The NACS represents the
overarching anti-corruption framework for the country that
will be supported by a restructured and revitalized ACC. Key
points were: June expected passage of the revised
Anti-Corruption law; division of Attorney General and
Minister of Justice into two non-conflicting positions (now
combined); and President Koroma's planned public declaration
of his assets. END SUMMARY.

2. President Koroma's comments regarding the NACS reflected
his commitment to maintaining zero-tolerance on corruption, a
pledge he made during his election campaign and repeated
during his October 2007 address to the opening of Parliament.
He stated that no one, regardless of stature or position,
will be exempt from prosecution. He added that the revision
of the anti-corruption law (see reftel), which was recently
approved by the Attorney-General and other members of his
Cabinet, will be tabled before Parliament within the next two
weeks. The revised law will provide the ACC with
prosecutorial authority. Following anticipated Parliamentary
approval for the revised law, the President intends to
publicly declare his personal assets in the hopes of
encouraging transparency among others within the government.
Koroma also said that he intends to separate the offices of
the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, and that action
is already being taken to make this a reality.

3. The creation of this strategy fulfills one of the criteria
for International Monetary Fund (IMF) support, which up until
now had been suspended. At the May 19 roll-out ceremony, the
IMF representative told Ambassador that the launch enables
the IMF to restart programs, and he commented that he expects
a team of experts to arrive in June.

4. COMMENT: Detailed impressions of the NACS and related
documents will be discussed septel, but its launch and
President Koroma's accompanying remarks represent a major
step towards strengthening Sierra Leone's ability to combat
corruption. The revision of the anti-corruption law and the
revitalization of the ACC through the selection of a credible
and active Commissioner are critical steps in legitimizing
the government's commitment to addressing this endemic
problem. A national strategy that forces all government
ministries and parastatals to include anti-corruption in
their mandates is a bold and visible initiative. This
strategy addresses not only accountability, but also embeds
the concept that corruption is a government-wide problem that
requires a government-wide solution. The well-attended and
very public May 19 launch was a necessary step to
demonstrating to the people of Sierra Leone and the
international community that corruption will no longer be
tolerated in the country. END COMMENT.
PERRY

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