The imperative of peace …
The November 17 polls were endorsed by a wide range of election observers including the European Union, Economic Community of West African States(ECOWAS) and local monitoring groups as being free, fair and transparent. Whilst the ruling All Peoples Congress(APC) is celebrating victory, the opposition whose flag bearer Rtd Brigadier Julius Maada Bio refused to accept defeat and concede defeat, claiming ballot stuffing, rigging and intimidation of supporters. Elections themselves are very complex combining four separate polls, presidential, parliamentary, and both mayoral/chairmanship and councils forming the local councils.
This was a unique experiment in Sierra Leone, Africa and the world at large. The campaigning itself was very intensive, wide ranging and volatile, pitting an allegedly North western alliance where the ruling APC was dominant against the south and eastern region which largely favoured the opposition SLPP.
While particularly the two presidential candidates worked very hard and spared no efforts to capture the golden crown, their supporters were very vociferous, expectant, and often times provocative to each other building up great expectations from their respective leaderships. The die was therefore cast between the incumbent APC President Ernest Bai Koroma and Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio leaving very little room for maneuver and compromise. The victory of Ernest Bai Koroma therefore, while largely expected, left a very sour taste in the mouths of the SLPP and its supporters which had convinced itself that it could defeat president Koroma and therefore built very big expectations in the process. The reaction of president Koroma’s victory can therefore be seen in this light, resulting in bitter quarrels in his leadership, including an alleged molestation of vice presidential candidate of the SLPP who dared to suggest acceptance of defeat in the elections and moving forward in the interest of the nation and the people. The hot heads prevailed in these internal squabbles initially leading to petitions of the elections results in court. The moral guarantors of the country which played a significant role in bringing the ten year old war to an end, inter religious councils, international development partners, friends of sierra Leone and luminaries of both parties did not however give up.
The reported meeting between president Koroma and Maada Bio has finally broken the ice between the two groups, while those knowledgeable forces insist that in fact the two principal contenders had held earlier meetings in camera. The enthusiasm welcoming this breakthrough both within the country and internationally gives hope that sierra Leone has finally found a winning formula for a progressive forward march under the leadership of president Ernest Bai Koroma hailed by many as a transformational and visionary leader who has succeeded in just five years in building a tremendous hope in the country and confidence in themselves for a bright and prosperous future.
Amidst all of these happenings, critical readers may want to quiz the time factor of this move of the opposition and their role in the democratic dispensation of the country. In Africa for example, it is very rare for political opponents to concede defeat in elections as this was expected to have been demonstrated by the main opposition(SLPP) in the just concluded elections. Even though many believed the ruling APC won with a landslide victory on their remarkable achievements in the past five years, the main contender Julius Maada bio has given it a blind by refusing to accept the outcome of the polls. The majority of Sierra Leoneans were expecting Mr. Bio to have congratulated the president on his victory as demonstrated by former vice president Solomon Berewa after he lost in 2007. The SLPP as a party is allegedly claiming to have erudite politicians and these folks within I believe must have advised the retired brigadier to concede defeat and congratulated the president as captured in his words by addressing the president as ‘’His Excellency’’ and giving him a ‘’standing ovation’’. Ask me my view on this occasion I will tell you I was impressed seeing the two major contenders for the hot seat hugging and shaking hands after a long silence. This I strongly believe will strength our democratic ties and add to our democratic credentials as a nation.
In the governance of the state, the opposition has a key role to making sure the ruling government perform and conform to democratic ideals. The SLPP as the main opposition has a moral responsibility in the development and progress of the country. This move, however, reinforces aptly its party motto as ‘one country, one people’. The showcase of tolerance and reconciliation by the two major political parties has to be translated to their supporters/members to seeing themselves as one and working together for a better Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leoneans at this juncture must endeavour to imbibe the culture of peaceful co-existence for a prosperous mama Salone. We must crawl out of our skins and negate the bad attitudes that stand as impediments to the peace and development of our dear land. This piece will not be complete if I fail to bring to the fore the statesmanship move of the former vice president to talk to the two leaders to think of Sierra Leone and move forward as a nation. (Is Berewa not a statesman?…. I will leave that for another day).
All of this, however, leaves a critical on the mindset of the president in guiding our nation and a balance game of governance in the affairs of the state. Therefore, let us consolidate the peace and move our Mama Salone forward.
BY Mohamed Thullah
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