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Reading: US Embassy Denies Secretary Blinken’s Rumored Visit to Sierra Leone
Reading: US Embassy Denies Secretary Blinken’s Rumored Visit to Sierra Leone

US Embassy Denies Secretary Blinken’s Rumored Visit to Sierra Leone

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The alleged upcoming visit of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Freetown has been officially denied by the Public Affairs Department of the United States Embassy in Freetown. In a statement released on Tuesday, the embassy dismissed the circulating rumors, stating, “There is a false rumor that US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is coming to Sierra Leone. This is not true.”

Earlier speculations, based on a leaked letter from the Office of the Chief Minister, had suggested that Antony Blinken would be visiting Sierra Leone on January 23rd, 2024. The letter, attributed to Kenei Lamin, Permanent Secretary of the Chief Minister’s Office, had sought a landing permit for a US military aircraft transporting Secretary Blinken to Freetown International Airport.

The letter addressed to the Director-General of the Sierra Leone Civil Aviation Authority (SLCAA) read, “I write to inform you that the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken will arrive at the Freetown International Airport on 23rd January 2024. In view of the above, I hereby request a Landing permit for the US Military Aircraft that will be used.”

Journalist Amadu Lamrana Bah, citing a State House source, reported that there has been correspondence confirming the visit of the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, to Freetown from Monrovia, Liberia. Thomas-Greenfield is expected to attend the inauguration ceremony of President-elect Joseph Boakai on January 22nd, 2024.

It’s noteworthy that the United States has refrained from congratulating President Julius Maada Bio on his re-election in 2023. Instead, the U.S. expressed concerns about the transparency of the election procedures, particularly during the tallying phase. On August 31, the U.S. State Department imposed visa restrictions on individuals suspected of undermining Sierra Leone’s democracy, which included activities such as vote manipulation or intimidating election monitors.

Additionally, the United States temporarily suspended Sierra Leone’s participation in the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compact grant. However, it was later reinstated in 2024, contingent on the full implementation of the agreement of national unity that followed an inter-party post-election peace dialogue.

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