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Page last updated at 16:47 GMT, Monday, 1 September 2008 17:47 UK

S Leone president declares assets

File photo of Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma
Ernest Bai Koroma was elected on an anti-corruption ticket

President Ernest Bai Koroma has become the first head of state in Sierra Leone to declare his assets to the country's Anti-Corruption Commission.

Under a new law, the president and other public officials must declare their assets and update them annually, and when they leave office.

The president said the move was a watershed, and a step to rid the country of corrupt officials.

Mr Koroma won elections last year on an anti-corruption ticket.

"I believe this is a clear indication of our commitment as a government to fight corruption," the president said at a ceremony at State House on Monday.

"What we are doing today is unique not only within this whole region but even in Africa," he said.

'Opportunity'

Mr Koroma told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme that his assets included properties, vehicles, interest on shares, and a few other items.

Asked to estimate their worth, the president only indicated his assets would be valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars - not millions.

"I don't have a huge asset base," he said.

Anti-corruption commissioner Abdul Tejan-Cole called the new law a "truly historic opportunity".

Corruption is seen as one of the reasons for the outbreak of civil war in the country in the 1990s, the BBC's Umaru Fofana reports from the capital, Freetown.

It is also seen as the reason the country has been almost consistently at the bottom of the UN's human development index, despite its huge mineral resources, he says.


SEE ALSO
Unrest 'appals' S Leone leaders
14 Aug 08 |  Africa
S Leone orders corruption probe
13 Dec 07 |  Africa
Country profile: Sierra Leone
18 Jun 08 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Sierra Leone
18 Jun 08 |  Country profiles

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