Yusuf Keketoma Sandi
The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 19 May 2014
Julius Maada Bio has called on all SLPP party members to open up dialogue within the party, in the interest of peace and unity. He made this appeal during a radio interview on the popular good governance programme – ‘Monologue’, in Freetown, last Saturday, 17th May.
In his interview with David Tam Bayoh, Julius Maada Bio said that the SLPP has a moral obligation to the people of Sierra Leone, and as such, it is about time the party is united in peace.
Bio said that he is willing to have dialogue with any SLPP member who has a grievance against him.
“I am ready to sit on the table with anyone who has a grievance against me, so that we can dialogue in the interest of peace and unity within the party,” says Julius Maada Bio.
When asked by David Tam Bayoh, what would be his message if he is in a room with SLPP national executive on the one hand and young people on the other hand, Bio said: “I will firstly admonish the young people that, they should desist from violence and from any attack on other party members whether verbal or personal.
“To the national executive, I will tell them that they have a moral obligation to leave their offices and go out in the country to talk to the people on the things that matter to them.
“I will also advise them that they need to travel out of the country to the diaspora and engage with the SLPP members in the diaspora branches – whether it is in United Kingdom, United States, or Europe”.
Julius Maada Bio used the opportunity to re-echo his criticism of the APC government on their recent political manipulation of a court decision, which gave both constituencies 05 and 015 to the ruling All Peoples’ Congress Party.
He said that; you cannot have a constituency where the majority of people are represented by the votes of the minority, because that is not democracy.
Asked if he did not think that the decision on the two constituencies was solely a court decision, rather than an APC government decision; Maada Bio responded that the court has been compromised by the APC government, as well as undermining the purpose of the courts, which is to represent fairness and justice in society.
Julius Maada Bio also spoke about his recent open letter, addressed to President Koroma, on the widely condemned issue of third term or extension of presidency.
When asked why he decided to write the letter, Bio told David Tam Bayoh that as a former Head of State and a political stakeholder, he has the moral obligation to advise the president and give out a position statement on such a very serious issue that involves the sacred constitution.
He went on to state that he was adding his voice to the numerous voices of Sierra Leoneans, including the press and civil society organisations that opposes any third term or extension of the presidency.
He said that there are more pressing and important issues that the president should be focused on, rather than discussing a third term, such as:
The deteriorating electricity situation in all the provincial cities except Makeni; the poor road conditions; the growing youth unemployment; the fight against corruption; the weakening of the Judiciary; the high incidence of diseases; the limited access to safe drinking water; the poor educational and health standards; the limited access to adequate and nutritious food; the poor conditions for our workforce; the growing land-grabbing propensity and the deprivation of the rural poor.
At the conclusion of the radio interview, Julius Maada Bio expressed serious concern about the recently reported arrest of an artist in Kenema, believed to be an SLPP member, simply because he printed a t-shirt with the inscription- “After Gbagbo, Na U”.
Julius Maada Bio said that, we cannot continue to live in a country in which certain group of people are told to assert their freedom of expression – with the slogan “After U na U” – whilst others are being arrested for exercising the same freedom of expression, just because of where they come from, and which political party they belong.
“This is not democracy” he concluded.
Julius Maada Bio is a former head of state of Sierra Leone; the SLPP party’s 2012 presidential election candidate; and a retired military Brigadier of the Sierra Leone Armed Forces.