16 October 2013

Sierra Leone: Salone Receives U.S.$10m Per Annum for Amisom Role

The Ministry of Defence(MOD) on Monday said that the Union Nations each year remits the sum of US$10,485,600 (ten million, four hundred and eighty five thousand, six hundred United States dollars)to the government of Sierra Leone for the purpose of paying salaries and allowances to 850 troops deployed in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

Speaking at a press conference at the MOD, Minister of Defence, Retired Major Palo Conteh, said that each member of the Sierra Leonean Battalion (LEOBATT) deployed in Somalia is entitled to US$828 every month, while the residual amount is utilized for operational cost by the ministry and the government of Sierra Leone.

The defence minister further revealed that out of US$828 per troop, only US$100 is paid as stipend during deployment in Somalia, while US$728 is kept in their personal account at the Union Trust Bank (UTB) in Freetown.

Retired Major Conteh was reacting to what he referred to as "false statement" by an unknown person that was interviewed last Saturday on Star Radio, during the Monologue programme anchored by David Tam-Baryoh.

He said he was disappointed with the presenter for airing the interview without granting the military the right to respond.

During the said interview, an unknown person, probably a member of LEOBATT in Somalia, alleged that the defence ministry now deducts US$200 from their salaries, and that troops have to bribe in order to be drafted to serve in the war-torn Horn of Africa country.

Also speaking at the press conference, Chief of Defence Staff, Major-General Samuel Omar Williams, said the MOD cares and caters for the welfare of its personnel deployed outside the country, more than any other time in its history.

Head of Public Relations at the MOD, Col. M.M. Samura, also expressed his dissatisfaction that the Monologue producer failed to contact military bosses for their response, referring to the claims by the unknown caller as "just allegations".

Sierra Leone has 850 troops serving in AMISOM. The men are deployed in the southern port city of Kismayo. The defence spokesman confirmed last week that the West Africa country will rotate its troops early in 2014, when the current batch will be replaced by a new contingent that is now being assembled and trained at the Peace Mission Training Centre at Hastings, few kilometers outside Freetown.

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