New S Leone leader visits Senegal on first trip abroad

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Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio (File, AFP)
Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio (File, AFP)

Sierra Leone's new President Julius Maada Bio has met with his Senegalese counterpart Macky Sall in Dakar on his first foreign trip since taking office last week, officials said on Wednesday.

Bio said after their talks late on Tuesday that the pair had discussed economic affairs and matters of governance, and "how Senegal can help Sierra Leone move forward," Sall's office said.

Choosing Senegal for his first foreign trip "shows his interest in developing a special relationship, built on friendship and mutual interests," Sall said.

In a statement, Bio's office said Sall had provided an airplane for the visit and that the new Sierra Leonean leader had limited his delegation to eight people "to curtail government wastage".

At a rally in the Sierra Leone capital Freetown after his victory, Bio, a former putschist who relinquished power to a democratically elected president in 1996, stressed the need for "discipline" and rigour in the management of public funds.

One of the world's poorest nations despite huge mineral and diamond deposits, Sierra Leone is recovering only gradually from war and disease. The West African nation's economy remains fragile, with corruption widespread in the former British colony.

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