Taylor verdict adds sparkle to Sierra Leone festivities

Sierra Leone was in festive mood Friday for the 51st anniversary of independence, a day after Liberian warlord Charles Taylor was convicted of aiding rebels responsible for bloody atrocities in the country.

In nationwide address, President Ernest Koroma recounted that ”my administration since 2007 had not jailed any journalist”.

Motorists sounded their horns, church bells rang and buildings were decorated with flags and bunting, while President Ernest Koroma held a special awards ceremony for dozens of Sierra Leoneans.

“We as a nation are determined to assert our collective aspiration for security, development and democracy and nothing would ever distract us from these patriotic goals,” Koroma said in a speech.

Guilty of aiding RUF rebels
Former Liberian president Taylor was found guilty on Thursday by the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone of 11 counts of aiding Revolutionary United Front rebels who waged an 11-year civil war with extreme brutality, killing, raping and mutilating tens of thousands of people.

“The country has protected free expression on radio and television stations and newspapers and our Human Rights Commission has been given A status by the UN, and we have one of the lowest crime rates among countries that have gone through war,” Koroma said.

“We should not allow these gains to be threatened and reversed by the few extremists and men of violence in our country.”

On the economic front, he said that “the economy is set to grow by over 35% this year,” adding, “The prospects of Sierra Leone becoming an oil producing nation are very great.” — Sapa-AFP

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