• July 12, 2023


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President Julius Maada Bio is walking himself into a path that has been travelled by others before him the results of which are never in their favours, interests or best wishes. At the end of the process, and for failing to listen to advice, he will be the only one to blame.

With such circumstance looming large over the Bio-led government, it behoves the president then to consider that he is the last from an era the people of Sierra Leone would want to forget and not be reminded of.

It must be the work of God for certain men and women to face the music for sins of their past. Such people would have gone to great lengths to work their way back into a system for which backwardness they can be blamed or bear some responsibility. Many people have said that with the way President Bio is handling calls to fix the electoral impasse the country is faced with, chances are that he is laying the groundwork for possible future charges to be brought against him for loss of lives and property under his watch. Such charges cannot be wholly divorced issues relating to our 11-year civil conflict.

This fact notwithstanding, and despite calls from local and international stakeholders in our governance including the political parties and international community that act as our leaders’ moral guarantors, the ECSL declared winner of the 24 June elections, President Bio is forging ahead with plans for his new government.

The man who many are now considering an impostor at State House for trying to convert the people’s will to his own, went against threats of sanctions against him and members of his regime with possible investigations into their financial activities, by appointing and reappointing certain individuals to key ministerial and other positions, causing quite a stir with rumours of his sacking spree at government MDAs.

These actions have not gone unnoticed by local and international observers of our political process. By forging ahead and naming a working cabinet which local political observers have said that the president is clearly choosing sanctions over the democratization of the state and its institutions.

Sierra Leone’s development has been plagued by weak and top-heavy central government leaning heavily on even weaker government institutions made much ineffective because they lack the moral high ground to call the president and others to book based on the revered checks and balance system of democracy. By singlehandedly handpicking such men and women meant to serve as checks to his excesses as an executive, the President has in effect rendered them toothless and captured.

For example, let us take the case of the embattled head of the ECSL that is the centre of all the current political fiasco. In a normal functioning democracy, the role of this man – Mohamed Kenewui Konneh should not be subjected to any outside influence. But we are facing a situation where this man appointed by the president to oversee this institution is willing for the sake of pleasing his boss to go against locally set procedures and international best practise in the execution of their functions, even to face international sanctions. They have contributed to the weak status of our democratic institutions.

By right and based on her age Freetown and Sierra Leone should be grouped alongside countries like the US, Canada, Australia and the like because she was an infant at a time these countries were. But Sierra Leone’s developmental pattern has not followed these countries’ as she remains institutionally weak. Blame for this weakness rests squarely on the head of the Head of State that hires and can fire them.

Meanwhile our international development partners have blamed both leading political parties, the APC and SLPP, for having done nothing to strengthen the rule of law that will either affect their grip and influence on power or make them accountable or subjected to the procedures and or rules governing their behaviour as our elected leaders.

The past president Dr Ernest Bai Koroma has received the most blame for not completing the review of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone, which they blamed for President Bio easily flouting the laws of the land by passing laws that are in application against the best interest and or rights of the people of Sierra Leone.

Concerned observers posited that when such a power is vested in a man such as Julius Maada Bio that is proving to be very power hungry by refusing to accept the international condemnation of the election results that gave him the mandate to claim the presidency of the state, it reminds us that this is not a man with a great human rights record.

Apart from issues emanating from the civil conflict after 1996 for which a case can be made, the killing of protesters in opposition party government strongholds under Bio’s watch since 2018 has shown the rest of the world the kind of mentality we are dealing with at State House. The fact that no one has been named or held accountable for all the loss of lives and properties has raised many uncomfortable eyebrows in a country dealing with former soldiers and rebels that were not properly decommissioned. This is a country that is still suffering from the trauma of the warring years. The peace of the state is fragile as anything could topple the weak state security setup that is more prone to shooting unarmed civilians than respecting their human and other rights.

According to some of our international friends if President Bio is claiming to be the “father of democracy” in Sierra Leone, by his actions to ignore the international calls for a rerun of the presidential elections he is singlehandedly killing what he had long been nurturing. For taking Sierra Leone one step forward in 1996 by handing power over to a democratically elected government, President Bio has been accused of taking the country ten steps backward since 2018 to date. His influence on the country’s democratic credentials have been negative since all his proposed legislations were met with staunch opposition from the opposition bench and the citizenry.

Our international friends were quick to point out that Bio’s return to Sierra Leone has been plagued by one procedural lapse after the other. From his running battle with being an illegal flagbearer as per his party’s past constitution, to changing the party’s constitution to reflect his ambition and go against the national constitution with regards the election of a flagbearer, to his claiming of the disputed 24 June elections and now forging ahead despite widespread condemnation and the only other party in parliament and city councils pulling out of government, President Bio seems to be walking himself to a path of no return. The legitimacy he lacks, something that he has been trying to gain with all the local endorsement of his victory by known sycophants, can only be obtained via another presidential elections, this time around one that will be declared free and fair by all and sundry.

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