Mystery fire at Freetown airport, hours to Maada Bio’s inauguration

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The Presidential Lounge at Freetown International Airport up in smoke a day before Maada Bio’s inauguration. Photo credit: Umaru Fofana.

A mystery fire has gutted the lounge at the Freetown International Airport, where the dignitaries jetting in Saturday for the official inauguration of Sierra Leone’e President Julius Maada Bio, would be received.

The fire incident happened today.

Government has asked the police to investigate its cause, but it is not ruling out sabotage because of it’s timing, less than 24 hours to Maada Bio’s inauguration.

“This incident could not have come at a more unfortunate time, coming on the eve of the presidential inauguration’, the government said on Friday night, in a post on Facebook.

Maada Bio, a former military leader of the country for three months in 1996, defeated Samura Kamara of the then ruling All Peoples Congress in the runoff election in April.

He was sworn in immediately, at a ceremony in a hotel, according to the constitution of the country, but the opposition candidate has headed to the courts to challenge the victory.

Many leaders in West Africa are expected at the event on Saturday.

Here is the statement by the government of Sierra Leone:

“About 1400hrs today 11 May, 2018, Government received news of a fire incident at the Presidential Lounge of the Freetown Intentional Airport. We immediately dispatched a high powered delegation led by the Minister of Transport and Aviation, Mr. Kabineh Kallon and the Minister of Information and Communications, Mr. Mohamed R. Swaray to ascertain the cause of the incident and undertake an initial assessment of the damage .

“The Ministers and their delegation interviewed the General Manager of the Sierra Leone Airport Authority, the Local Unit Commander (LUC) of Lungi Police Station and other security personnel deployed around the Presidential Lounge about the incident. Police are currently investigating the cause of the fire.

“This incident could not have come at a more unfortunate time, coming on the eve of the presidential inauguration.

“The public is however assured that immediate steps have been taken, including the designation of an alternative VIP lounge to ensure the safety and comfort of our dignitaries arriving for the inauguration ceremony.

“We wish to assure all Sierra Leoneans and our invited guests that everything is under control and that the airport is safe and secure to accommodate flights and our guests from far and wide. We also wish to assure our guests of the usual Sierra Leonean hospitality.”


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