Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio has unveiled the second set of appointments into his Cabinet, notably naming his campaign manager in the March elections, Dr Alie Kabba, as Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.A statement from the presidency on Tuesday announced a total of 18 new appointees, among them 13 ministers, including that of Higher Education, Trade, Transport & Aviation, and Mines.
Also notable in the announcement is the creation of a new cabinet post of Chief Minister. Prof. David Francis, the man who headed the Presidential Transition Team set up to take stock of the former regime, was named to that position.
It is not yet clear what the responsibility entails, but Prof. Francis, who happened to be the academic supervisor of President Bio’s doctoral programme, is expected to play a major role in the new administration.
Tuesday’s appointment also saw the inclusion of fresh faces, including two more women, bringing them to a total of four in the Cabinet.
A notable appointee in this regard is renowned peace and conflict resolution expert and academic, Dr Memunatu Pratt, who was appointed Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs.
Another academic, Raymond de’Souza George, who unsuccessfully contested for the post of Freetown Mayor, was appointed Minister of works and Public Assets.
A former minister in the Ernest Bai Koroma-led administration, Peter Bayuku Conteh, who crossed-carpet to the opposition National Grand Coalition (NGC), was named Minister of Trade and Industry.
Foday Yumkella, brother of opposition NGC politician Dr Kandeh Yumkella, was named Minister of Political and Public Affairs. Foday stuck with Bio during the power struggle that led to the NGC breaking away from the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) in the run up to the March general elections.
Other appointments included for the portfolios of Youths Affairs; Lands, Housing and Environment; as well as Planning and Economic Development.
President Bio also appointed four regional Resident Ministers for the North, South, East and Northwest. A notable appointment among them is the former Vice Presidential running mate of the opposition Alliance Democratic Party (ADP), Haja Isata Abdulai-Kamara.
The presidential statement said more appointments are expected to come. But with a few more posts expected to be filled, it is already clear that there will be a little more cabinet positions in this new government compared to its predecessor.
And with President Bio’s mantra of cut down in spending, questions will surely be asked about the rationale behind the long list of cabinet ministers.
The good news though is that so far the composition of the cabinet has illustrated a semblance of national cohesion, for a country highly divided along regional lines.