• June 12, 2023

UK Extols Commitment to President Bio’s Government

UK Extols Commitment to President Bio’s Government
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The Government and People of the United Kingdom say they are committed to the progressive moves being made by the President Julius Maada Bio-led Government of Sierra Leone.

This commitment came at a time when the UK’s Right Honorable James Cleverly (MP) Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs contritely responded to complaints sent to Alicia Kearns MP (UK) by the main opposition All People’s Congress (APC) in Sierra Leone.

After receiving a letter from Alicia Kearns MP (UK), dated 12 May 2023 in which the main opposition complained about concerns over the integrity of the forthcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in Sierra Leone, among other issues, the Right Honorable James Cleverly (MP) Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, replied to her letter in very clear tone that he was totally convinced and confident about the role the President of Sierra Leone, Dr. Julius Maada Bio and his government is playing towards the holding of free, fair and credible elections on June 24, 2023.

In his letter to Alicia Kearns MP (UK), dated 25 May 2023, the Right Honorable James Cleverly (MP) Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs wrote: “With respect to the questions you have asked, the UK, through the British High Commission in Freetown, holds regular, frank conversations with senior government interlocutors and other key stakeholders on issues of good governance, the rule of law and the importance of free, fair and peaceful elections. Stakeholders include members of the opposition, election management bodies, and civil society organizations.

“I raised these issues myself with President Bio

and the leader of the opposition, Dr. Samura Kamara, during my visit to Sierra Leone in

March and through subsequent engagements.”

He added: “Where the British High Commission has had concerns over preparations for elections, we have raised those with both the Government of Sierra Leone, election management bodies and the opposition parties.”

He went on to state that “The UK has launched the ‘Promoting Democracy and Electoral Freedom ‘Programme, whch supports cross-community dialogue among voters in Sierra Leone, with a focus on inclusion and violence prevention. The programme uses a combination of community-led peace promotion interventions and media programming for voter education.”

He further wrote that: “The UK often provides on-the-ground diplomatic observers for elections. In June, the British High Commission will deploy an observation team across a number of locations, working alongside other international missions and partners.”

He maintained that as the elections approach, UK will continue to work closely with the international community to consolidate and cross-check planning.

He concluded by stating: “I trust this (letter) reassures the Committee that the UK is taking a keen interest in the elections in Sierra Leone, and that we are committed to working with all stakeholders to ensure the process is free, fair credible and reflects the will of the people.”

It is important to note that the response of the Right Honorable James Cleverly (MP) Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs came following complaints made by the APC to the above-mentioned UK MP.

In their letter, they complained amongst other things that they do not trust the activities of the security forces as they are restricting the ability of opposition leaders to travel – internally and abroad – and that they are breaking up legitimate political gatherings with violence and detentions without charge.

The APC also in their letter to the UK MP, raised concerns about the political independence of the Electoral Commission in overseeing the issuing of proper ballot papers and allowing the counting of votes at a district level rather than regional level, which is more vulnerable to political interference.

They stated in their letter to the aforementioned UK MP, that they are equally concerned about the political influence on the Judiciary in granting injunctions against opposition parties that inhibit their ability to campaign.

They also questioned the presence of international election observation missions which they said is an important but not necessarily sufficient guarantee that the elections will be seen to be free and fair for potential serious consequences of a disputed process and result.

However, the response to the APC’s letter addressed to Alicia Kearns MP (UK), has been succinctly addressed and their fears allayed by the Right Honorable James Cleverly (MP) Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs.

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