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Sierra Leone’s presidential candidate detained over bigamy claims

Sierra Leone’s main opposition party has accused the government of political intimidation following the detention of a presidential hopeful on allegations of bigamy.

Mr Alie Kabbah, one of a dozen people vying for the presidential ticket of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), was detained for two days last week after a complaint lodged by Local Government Minister Diana Konomanyi.

Mr Kabbah and Ms Konomanyi got married in 2013 but divorced last year.

Ms Konomanyi alleged that Mr Kabbah was already married in the United States when they tied the knot.

Last Wednesday, truckloads of police officers raided the politician’s house, dragging him into custody at the headquarters of the Criminal Investigations Department in Freetown.

He was released on bail on the condition that he did not make any public statement on the matter.

SLPP acting publicity secretary Philip Tondeneh said Monday Ms Konomanyi had no case since the two had divorced.

He claimed the police were abusing their powers on the orders of the minister who was taking advantage of her political influence to pervert the course of justice.

SLPP said the issue was not a criminal offence but a civil matter which did not require police involvement.

Under a Sierra Leonean law that guarantees women and girls’ rights, anyone married under the official registry can only have a monogamous relationship. Violators face up to seven years in jail.

The police say Mr Kabbah lied under oath that he had divorced his previous wife in the US where he was a resident. But he has denied.

A lawyer for the accused said the US-based opposition politician had all the documents that proved he had annulled his marriage in the US before remarrying in Freetown.