Sierra Leone indicts opposition front-runner for alleged corruption

FILE PHOTO: Foreign Minister of Sierra Leone, Samura Kamara addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 22, 2017. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

FREETOWN (Reuters) - Sierra Leone's anti-corruption commission has indicted six officials on corruption allegations, including an opposition front-runner for the 2023 presidential election.

Samura Kamara was the presidential candidate for the now opposition All People's Congress (APC) party in the 2018 election, and is their presumed candidate for the 2023 polls.

The others include the head of chancery and the former and current financial attachés at the country's mission to the United Nations in New York.

The six are charged with various counts of corruption involving $4.2 million meant for the renovation of Sierra Leone's chancery building in Manhattan.

According to a statement released by the commission late on Thursday, Kamara is charged with two counts including misappropriation of public funds amounting to $2,560,000 meant for the chancery building's reconstruction.

He was foreign minister at the time of the alleged wrongdoing.

Kamara said his legal team was studying the indictment. His campaign team denied any wrongdoing in a short statement, saying that his "forty years of public service, his unblemished character has never been questioned both at national and international levels".

Hundreds of Kamara's supporters accompanied him when he was brought in for questioning at the anti-corruption commission headquarters in Freetown earlier this month, saying the charges were politically motivated. The supporters clashed with police who used teargas to disperse them.

The six are due to appear in court on Dec. 10, the commission statement said.

(Reporting by Umaru Fofana; Editing by Nellie Peyton and Michael Perry)

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