The joint press statement titled “Assault On Democracy: Political Violence, Police Ban On Political Activities And The Non-Implementation Of Reports Of Commissions Of Inquiry’ is an excessive exaggeration of political misunderstandings, circulated by a cabal of SLPP-PMDC-NDA functionaries. It can at best be described as a deliberate attempt by the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) to discredit the efforts of the Leader and Chairman of the All Peoples Congress (APC) party, President Ernest Bai Koroma, in promoting democracy and political tolerance in Sierra Leone. The unfortunate suggestion by the SLPP that the public should be aware of mounting incidents of violence since the APC assumed power in 2007 is certainly an outrageously dishonest presentation of what actually obtains in our country at present.
Two isolated incidents in Kono and Bo and similarly isolated incidents in Pujehun and Freetown in 2009 can hardly be described as mounting incidents of violence. Sierra Leone today enjoys unprecedented peace within its geographical boundaries to the extent that international observers including former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and a first-class Hollywood actor who visited the country recently have declared Sierra Leone as one of the safest and most peaceful places in Africa.
All the 14 political districts are generally enjoying peace and tranquility to the extent that citizens feel safe to travel from one part of the country to other parts of the country without hindrance.
The SLPP flag-bearer Julius Maada Bio could have been attacked. But was President Koroma, the Leader and Chairman of the APC, not attacked in the Eastern Province when he was Opposition Leader at a time when the National Electoral Commission had given mandate that politicians should campaign in all parts of the country? Yet, Koroma was patriotic enough not to boycott Parliament when he Member of Parliament and Leader of the then Opposition APC.
The SLPP’s press release is another attempt to begin to put in place mechanisms to undermine the very security of the state in an effort to discredit future presidential and parliamentary elections. This cannot be disputed because, from utterances made by SLPP functionaries, it is apparent that the SLPP opposition does not believe in the authority of state institutions created by the National Constitution. The National Electoral Commission is constantly discredited by SLPP functionaries to create the impression that there’s no level playing-field. The Sierra Leone Police, which has the constitutional mandate to provide internal security, is also being continuously discredited by the SLPP in an obvious attempt to give the picture that Sierra Leone is once again gravitating to a state of anarchy.
The truth of the matter is that Sierra Leone continues to enjoy peace, even as President Koroma, the Leader and Chairman of the APC, continues to implement the Agenda for Change as a basis to promote the concept of a free society. Even cynics, skeptics and critics can testify to the fact that the APC Leader and Chairman, President Ernest Bai Koroma, has been administering a democratic society in which the Rule of Law has been given premium, manifested in the fact that opposition leaders are respected by the government to the extent that no politician or journalist has been incarcerated for holding differing views.
The President’s level of tolerance has assumed such enviable proportions that human rights organizations all over the world respect him for pursuing the ideals of a modern democratic state. The Human Rights Commission, together with other democratic institutions and stakeholders including the National Electoral Commission and the Anti Corruption Commission in Sierra Leone are accorded total independence. Commissioners of these institutions have made it clear that they enjoy a level of freedom that is not enjoyed by counterpart institutions in many other countries.
The concept of Freedom of Expression has been promoted by the Leader of the APC to the extent that citizens are allowed to express themselves freely, sometimes bordering on insulting members of the government without repercussion. The Leader and Chairman of the APC, President Ernest Bai Koroma, has been listed down as one of most progressive leaders on the African continent. Recently, the Africa-America institute granted President Koroma an award for his capacity to promote peace and political tolerance in Sierra Leone.
The PMDC’s Charles Margai’s collaboration in calling for a withdrawal from Parliament alongside the SLPP is an unpatriotic position because if such withdrawal is a mark of protest, why has Mr. Margai not withdrawn his Ministers in the APC government of Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma? The fact is that Margai no longer has authority over the PMDC or its representative Ministers.
Consequently, it can only be stated that, consistent with the provisions of the Sierra Leone Constitution, the President of the republic of Sierra Leone, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, who is the Leader and Chairman of the APC, will address Parliament at the special opening of the House. After the President’s statement, Parliament will debate to the full view of the public. Whether representatives of the SLPP and the PMDC are present or not, the President will still perform his statutory functions. It must be stated that by refusing to participate in this pivotal national event, the SLPP and PMDC would have made it impossible for their MPs to take part in the debate of the President’s speech.
In conclusion, the determination by the SLPP to create a situation that would suggest that the peace process is collapsing and wishing a return of UN peacekeepers to Sierra Leone will not be supported by the majority of Sierra Leoneans. The truth is that Sierra Leone has attained and has maintained peace. President Koroma, Leader and Chairman of the APC, has bent over backwards to sustain the peace and promote political tolerance which has now taken Sierra Leone to the point of undertaking vital national development programmes and international peacekeeping operations. The construction of roads, the rehabilitation of the energy sector, the beefing up of agricultural activities, the initiation of the Free Health Care programme and the modernization of the telecommunications sector, among others, can only continue to thrive in the midst of peace and tranquility.
The Rule of Law is the centerpiece of Democracy. Anybody or any group of persons who believe that violence is the answer to national problems must be resisted very firmly. This explains why the APC insists that suspects of the Kono and Bo incidents should be charged to court without hesitation.
Yet again, the APC condemns violence and appeals to its rank and file membership to continue to be democratic and law-abiding. oHouse
Long live peace and tranquility
Long live the All Peoples Congress Party
Long live Sierra Leone
Victor Bockarie Foh
Thursday 6th October 2011