Sierra Leone's Vice President Samuel Sam-Sumana on Saturday said he had requested asylum at the U.S. embassy in Freetown after soldiers surrounded his home following his expulsion this month from the country’s ruling party.
"I don't feel safe this morning as vice president," Sam-Sumana told The Associated Press by phone. He said he was not at his residence and declined to disclose his whereabouts.
Sam-Sumana was expelled from President Ernest Bai Koroma's All People's Congress (APC) party after an investigation accused him of creating his own rival political movement, casting doubt over whether he could continue as vice president.
After hearing that soldiers were heading to his home Saturday morning, Sam-Sumana said he tried and failed to contact President Ernest Bai Koroma.
Instead, he said he reached top officials at the presidential guard who informed him that his security team was being disarmed on orders of the president. Sam-Sumana said he then called U.S. Ambassador John Hoover and requested asylum.
"They're having a meeting and they will get back to me," the vice president said.
Abdulai Bayraytay, Sierra Leone’s government spokesman, declined to comment on Sam-Sumana status.
The vice president was expelled from the ruling APC after being accused of "orchestrating political violence" and trying to form a new party in his home district of Kono, located in the country's Eastern Province.
An announcement read out on state media also accused Sam-Sumana of "harboring a group of thugs."
"The decision was taken to preserve the integrity of the party and discourage political violence in the country," the statement said.