APC Government: Focus on Good Governance and Poverty Alleviation not Town Meetings
WASHINGTON, DC: The Sierra Leone People’s Party in North America (SLPPNA) politely rejects the invitation of the representative of the Open Governance Initiative (OGI) to a meeting with the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma in New York.
The Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) headed by the chairman and leader, John Oponjo Benjamin, has, in several monthly press briefings and other media, been continually raising issues about national reconciliation, bad governance, increasing poverty, and corruption which continue unabated. Impunity, bung contracts, nepotism, and raw corruption are on the increase. The All People’s Congress (APC) government of President Ernest Bai Koroma has consistently refused to deal openly, urgently, and fairly with any of those issues in a way that serves the best interests of all Sierra Leoneans. Unemployment and poverty are pervasive and intractable, according to the September 20, 2010 United Nations (UNIPSIL) report. The latest International Monetary Fund report highlights a gloomy financial forecast as inflation is set to increase while extra-budgetary spending by this APC government increases. The call by a British government official on the mining sector, and the call of international and national civil society organizations on pressing governance issues are ignored. Instead of precipitously prosecuting high profile cases of corruption, the APC government is undermining the integrity of state institutions through discriminatory hiring and firing, and creating kangaroo inquests with the specific intent of targeting the SLPP leadership.
The SLPPNA leadership wishes to restate the SLPP’s position as stated by the chairman and leader, John Benjamin, that open government is not about flowery speeches, half-truths, and a continued refusal to work collaboratively with all Sierra Leoneans. We also wish to re-state internationally recognized tenets of open government that governance must be transparent, participatory, and collaborative. The APC government must immediately, and without preconditions, table the Freedom of Information Bill, relax public disclosure procedures, and work collaboratively with every Sierra Leonean irrespective of tribe and region.
Finally, we believe that instead of a stage-managed talking shop in New York, thousands of miles away from those who are feeling the brunt of the APC’s three years of closed, hegemonic, and bigoted governance, President Koroma should be engaging all stakeholders in Sierra Leone on how to deal with the numerous preventable problems that continue to bedevil the country simply because his government refuses to practice open governance in Sierra Leone. Charity, as the saying goes, must begin at home. Finally, we respectfully request that the share of the funds that will be spent by the APC government to wine and dine after the OGI talk-shop be used to start a micro-credit loan scheme for unemployed and hungry youth in Sierra Leone. Hungry and suffering Sierra Leoneans in Sierra Leone (rather than Sierra Leoneans residing in North America) are the ones who need a frank conversation with the APC government about why they have been suffering for the last three years.
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