UNITED STATES PREPARES TO TRAIN PROFESSIONAL AND COMPETENT PRESIDENTIAL GUARD FOR GUINEA
The United States is funding a one-million dollar programme to train Guinea's Presidential Guard as the country prepares for the first democratic elections for more than half a century after independence from France.
According to the Associated Press (AP) news source, US embassy in Guinea spokesman Brett Bruen stated that the goal of the training which had already started (May of this year) will run for six months and was meant "to ensure that there is a professional, capable, and impartial presidential guard for the newly elected president of Guinea." He said that the training "is equivalent to that received by the U.S. Secret Service" and will have at its core " security methods, first aid, firearms training, human rights as well as the use of non-lethal force".
The United States Ambassador to Guinea Patricia Newton Moller, said the training was designed to protect the institution of the president, not any specific leader adding "Many countries around the world have approached us asking if we can help them train a professional presidential security service ... without any political orientation, any political ambition...and that is our objective."
Next door in Sierra Leone where President Ernest Bai Koroma rules the roost, it is not known if he knew of these provisions in US aid to such fragile states like Guinea and that if he would make use of such an offer if served on a platter.
Concerns and questions continue to be raised by a large majority of Sierra Leoneans who still cannot comprehend why their President feels more comfortable in the company of known rapists, torturers, murderers and assorted criminals. It has been reported that even though many of them do not qualify to be in the security services, his Protection Unit is made up of these criminals whom he himself hand-picked as part of his security detail.
It is to be noted that most of these close protection officers of the President were a part of the AFRC wing of the AFRC/RUF colaition of evil that was formed in the wake of the May 25, 1997 coup which ousted the democratically-elected SLPP government of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah.
It is an open secret that these close protection officers enjoy and flaunt the protection of President Ernest Bai Koroma himself who has gone against all norms of recruitment procedures to have these human rights abusers as his close companions as was evidenced by the government's squashing of all legal procedures against these men. The near-murder of Sierra Leonean Tom Nyuma and attack on the headquarters of the opposition SLPP where supporters were allegedly raped are just a couple of instances.
A cursory glance of President Koroma's appointments in many sphere's of Sierra Leonean public life are from supporters of the AFRC wing of that infamous coalition.
Many Sierra Leoneans would want to believe that the January 6, 1999 invasion of the city by AFRC/RUF forces was mindless and that all civilians were the target of the killers that entered Freetown on that day.
The AFRC wing of that infamous alliance knew the faces and residences of their supporters before they were kicked out in February 1998.
There are reports of those AFRC supporters, APC party members to the core who were spared the cruelty of rape, abductions, forced labour, bullets and machetes as they were huddled to safety. As a sign of their gratefullness, these APC functionaries made it a point to finger perceived AFRC opponents for revenge attacks.
"They knew all of us who supported them while in power before they were driven out in 1998 and so were protected. They went for houses and homes they believed were occupied by those who did not want them in power", one seventy-year old woman, now a key component within the "new" APC explained.