The latest UN Security Council Statement on Sierra Leone as read by America’s Susan Rice, devoted advise for political party leaders to support and promote national unity and cohesion. It partly stated:
The Security Council calls upon all political parties to engage constructively in an honest and open dialogue aimed at furthering national cohesion. The Council calls on the Government of Sierra Leone, all political parties as well as other stakeholders to intensify their efforts to foster an environment that is conducive to the holding of peaceful, transparent, free and fair elections. The Council calls on the leadership of the political parties to undertake cross-party confidence building measures...,
Similarly, UN SG Ban Ki Moon in his recommendations stated:
“...the political leaders of the country have the biggest responsibility to nurture and promote a culture of political tolerance and accommodation ...Clearly, the ruling party and the opposition party, given their dominant roles in the politics of the country, must put aside partisan political interests in favor of the overriding national interests and development... In this regard, I urge the political parties of Sierra Leone to take ownership of the dialogue process. I appeal to all the political stakeholders in the country... It remains my hope that there would be a resumption of dialogue among the parties, geared towards furthering national cohesion and ensuring the peaceful conduct of elections. Nothing can be more urgent in Sierra Leone...”
There can be no exaggeration of fact that the diplomats’ words exhibit a clear call for political leaders in Sierra Leone to put their arrogance and egos to one side and instead put the peace and unity of their country above their partisan and parochial considerations. Open displays of National Unity and visible acts of Political Tolerance are what the United Nations will like to see in Sierra Leone political landscape.
Now, for quite some time now, the SLPP has held the moral high ground in terms of APC versus SLPP national unity and political tolerance; not least because they, being in the opposition, did not have to show any tolerance in the area of administrative and political appointments nor was there an over-arching pressure on them to ensure the country leadership’s exhibited tolerance and unity. That was the headache of the ruling Koroma APC. As a result, the SLPP leadership has been using any opportunity to harp of how “divisive” and “intolerant” the Ernest Koroma regime has been.
SLPP’s hired and paid-up media persons will jump at any chance to propagate these allegations against the ruling APC and Koroma whilst placing the SLPP leadership on the high moral ground and citing the erstwhile Tejan Kabbah SLPP-led Government as one example of unity and political tolerance. One such media house even said Koroma should have personally congratulated Bio as the APC party congrats through Victor Foh to Maada Bio was not enough.
Their clamouring got to be so loud that no less a person than the UN Security Council and UNSG Ban Ki Moon had joined the call for more shows of national unity and political tolerance.
So it was that the Ernest Bai Koroma State House bent over backwards to ensure all protocols were observed last Friday at the 51st Independence Anniversary Celebrations at State House.
Julius Maada Bio is certainly not a Brigadier-General but during the erratic NPRC days, he sported the brigadier rank as a “field rank” (i.e: Bio is as much a Brigadier as RUF’s Sam Maskita was a Major-General and Issa Sesay was a General). However, in order to observe his claimed protocol, Maada Bio’s hand-written invitation card sent to him from State House described him as BRIGADIER-GENERAL JULIUS MAADA BIO. This was to make him feel at ease to attend a national event marking the country’s independence from Great Britain.
At State House itself the front row of seats right in front of the diplomats, were specially reserved for political party leaders. Ambassador Alhaji Soulay Daramy who heads the State House Protocol Team had reassured political leaders of their welcome and full dignity on arrival at State House.
Those who had looked forward to seeing the hopes of Ban Ki Moon, Susan Rice and others come to fruition were disappointed. Julius Maada Bio did not show up. His Running-mate Dr. Kadi Sesay did not show up. The party leader and chairman John Benjamin did not show up. They boycotted a National Event that should have seen them live up to the expectations of high powered figures around the world.
The SLPP, in the process, has now lost the moral high ground when it comes to who is to blame for lack of political tolerance and unity in Sierra Leone. They are now equals to the APC and some APC supporters might even go as far as to say, the SLPP is worse than the APC it used to criticise.
One more thing before I sign off. Can I please tell James Saa Momoh or whatever he calls himself that the Tejan Kabbah he is today viciously attacking in the name of SLPP, is the same Tejan Kabbah whose admirable legacy of Peace, Unity, Political Tolerance and Dialogue is what the SLPP is hoping to ride on when campaigns open.
Certainly, no sane SLPP member will want to run a campaign based on the extra-judicial killings and horrible human rights record of the NPRC of Julius Maada Bio. If SLPP wants to be taken seriously, they have to campaign on the Unity and Political Tolerance record of Kabbah’s SLPP. However, SLPP, by boycotting the independence event, have scored an own-goal.
Kabbah would not have behaved so. JOB, Bio, Sesay and others have let themselves and their SLPP down.
© Copyright by Awareness Times
Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.