Sierra Leone / by Alistair Galloway

The fight against Ebola took a turn in January as fresh cases were reported for the first time in months in Sierra Leone. This news came as clashes broke out between police and youths protesting the authoritarian actions the government has taken to combat the virus outbreak. The Chief of Sierra Leone's military, an institution vital to the anti-Ebola efforts, warned that poverty among Sierra Leonean soldiers constitutes a national security threat. Sierra Leonean infrastructure, weakened by the outbreak, took another blow on 16 January as the office of the country's electricity board was severely damaged by fire. Sierra Leone's new attorney general, chosen for his anti-corruption stance, was sworn in on 7 January. His office announced a sweeping reform of the civil service payroll, intended to root out corrupt payments. The United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review praised Sierra Leone for its progress in human rights. The government came under harsh criticism by religious groups in opposition to the recent legalisation of abortion in the country. In the first month of 2016, attention in Sierra Leone has turned to the presidential elections in 2017, with concerns that incumbent Ernest Bai Koroma will attempt to run for a third term. Sierra Leone's customs department released figures showing that the department's income rose significantly in 2015 compared to previous years. This comes with significant pushes to encourage foreign investment. Chinese delegate Wang Jiarui was honoured by a government-hosted dinner in the capital on 19 January. The Saudi Development Fund has also signed agreements with the Freetown government to expand Sierra Leone's higher education. However, a Senegalese construction company working in Sierra Leone threatened on 30 January to end its operations in the country because payment is so unreliable.