Sierra Leone government pressures SLFA to bring forward its FIFA-postponed congress

Sierra leone players

By Andrew Warshaw

August 10 – In the latest example of a government controlling its national FA,  Sierra Leone’s sports ministry has given the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) until August 14 to hold an ordinary congress to pave the way for elections now that the four-year mandate of SLFA boss Isha Johansen has expired.

However, sport minister Ahmed Khanou has not revealed what action will be taken if his ultimatum is not met.

Last month FIFA ruled that an electoral congress had to be delayed until a task force it has set up carries out integrity checks. FIFA said at the time that a Memorandum of Understanding, which included agreement on such checks for current and future SLFA officials and was signed by its general secretary Fatma Samoura, Khanou and Johansen “had not been adhered to”.

That is apparently still the case but Khanou, who is accused of ignoring FIFA’s mandate, says the congress must go ahead regardless.

“I instruct you to take your membership to ordinary congress as initially planned without prejudice to the FIFA task force and ‘integrity checks’ within five working days starting Tuesday,” Khanou stated in a letter to SLFA secretary general Christopher Kamara and quoted by the BBC.

“Ensure that you report the outcome of said congress to my office for the high attention of President Koroma.

“Take all necessary steps to ensure democratic transition through the electoral process of the SLFA. Should you fail to, I’ll be left with no option but to take the next necessary or expedient step,” Khanou added.

The SLFA responded through their executive committee member, Francis Konowa and not, tellingly, through Johansen who has taken a backseat in the ongoing row.

“We have received the letter from the sport minister and we have met as an executive and we have replied to him,” said Konowa. “Since the SLFA is affiliated to FIFA and the decision to postpone our congress was taken by FIFA we have written to them informing them about the letter we received from our sport minister.

“We are now waiting for the FIFA response and we’ll communicate it to the sport minister whenever we receive it.  But let me make one thing clear, it’s just not possible to hold congress within a week because there are procedures to follow.”

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