As VP, Ernest Meet… Bio Is Next  

Millions of peace loving Sierra Leoneans at home and abroad who yearn for the political tension existing in the country since the March 2018 elections to go calm down would be very pleased with the news that last weekend, Vice President, Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh on the instruction of his boss, His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio, paid a courtesy call on former President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma at the former President’s Makeni Lodge.

Sources report that the discussion between the two gentlemen was very fruitful. “Many things of national concern were discussed in a very open and friendly mood by Juldeh and Ernest,” one of our sources stated. Among the issues the two men discussed was that of the security detail for the former President.

It could be recalled that some time back, the former President’s office issued a press release frowning at the action of the AIG North to withdraw the former President’s security detail without his prior consent. As such, he refused to accept the new security contingent that was detailed to him. Information was that since that time, the former President has been without any state security.

With the nation eager to see the former and the current Presidents meeting in a show of solidarity, intimations are that the Vice President’s meeting with the former President would be followed soon with a face-to-face meeting between Ernest and Bio. In which direction, notably, sources stated that Ernest told Juldeh that his doors are always open to the current government to meet with him and discuss on issues having to do with development of the country.

The meeting between Ernest and Bio, many believe, will be the ice breaker between All People’s Congress (APC) and the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) as Bio seeks to bring together the nation as envisaged in the hosting of the Bintumani III peace and national dialogue conference and the eventual establishment of a National Peace and Cohesion Commission.

There is no denying that because of the latent hostility between APC and SLPP, the country has been on tenterhooks since National Electoral Commission (NEC) announced the result of the presidential runoff election last year that saw state power changing hands from APC to SLPP. In the aftermath of the election, APC has alleged that their supporters across the length and breadth of the country have been brutalized, tormented, molested, harassed, even killed by alleged SLPP supporters, their houses burnt and in some areas driven away.

Within this context, it has been very hard for anybody to appease APC who have shown their rebellion against the Bio government by several acts of insubordination against his government in Parliament with several walkouts on major national issues, as well as petitions against instituting of a Commission of Inquiry into the activities of the former government and appeal in the Courts against the recent High Court decision to remove ten Western Area APC MPs from Parliament.

There has been a heated political atmosphere in the country caused by the conflagration between APC and SLPP which the   international community has frowned at outright. As a result, the international community which for the past twenty years has invested heavily in securing peace and stability, Ambassadors of USA, UK, Germany and EU recently issued a press release cautioning the country to think and maintain peace.

It is in this tense political atmosphere that many believe that a following the meeting between Juldeh and Ernest, a follow up meeting between Ernest and Bio would be a further step in the right direction in gravitating Sierra Leone on a path to durable peace and national cohesion.

Sierra Leoneans look forward to that particular day with high expectations as they believe that the meeting will be the most potent fire extinguisher to dowsing the flames of intolerance and hate that exist between APC and SLPP, the country’s two biggest political forces.

“APC and SLPP have to look at the bigger political picture, that Sierra Leone is bigger than everyone and any political party,” a student of political science at FBC told this press when we went out to sound public opinion on the need for Ernest and Bio to meet as a show of peace and unity in the country.

“Ernest has come and done his own bit and gone, Bio too will do his own bit and leave but what is permanent is that Sierra Leone will always remain,” said one woman at the Bombay Street market. She further that if there is true peace and unity among all, Sierra Leone would be one of the finest places to live in the world, adding that the country has everything that it takes to develop rapidly except oneness.

As such, Juldeh’s visit to Ernest at his Makeni Lodge is seen by many as a tentative first step by this government to mend fences with their political adversary. On a similar token, former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf on her visit to Sierra Leone to grace the occasion of the launching of the former President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah Foundation advised that both sides accept and tolerate each other and work together in the interest of the bigger political picture – a united Sierra Leone pulling together in the same direction in the quest for development and prosperity for one and all.