America’s flip-flopping over democracy in Sierra Leone raises questions

Kabs Kanu: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 9 November 2023:

Monday November 6 , 2023 was another very tragic day for democracy in Sierra Leone, as the U.S Ambassador to Sierra Leone – Bryan Hunt, who like his predecessor – David Reimer had raised the hopes of the Sierra Leonean people that America is going to help them fight to redeem democracy in their country, has now seemingly disappointed everybody, leaving a lot of people wondering what is actually going on.

The U. S became the darling of democracy – loving Sierra Leoneans, when it stood at the forefront along with other Western nations and the European Union ( EU) to publicly denounce the June 24, 2023 elections in Sierra Leone as a sham and a travesty and instantly took action against the Bio government, putting on hold the U.S $ 400 million Millennium Challenge Corporation ( MCC ) grant and also imposed travel restrictions on all officials who contributed to undermine democracy in Sierra Leone by rigging the June 24 elections.

Ambassador Reimer even boldly stated in a famous interview with Radio Democracy 98.1 that he did not congratulate Maada Bio because the election lacked transparency and credibility.

The U. S Secretary of State and the U. S Congress have also been publicly vocal in condemning the June 24 elections as fraudulent, putting joy in the hearts of all Sierra Leoneans that indeed, America, the beacon of democracy in the world, was on their side and even if they had no power to order a rerun were about to help institute measures that will ensure that the kind of disgraceful rigging seen on June 24 never happens again in Sierra Leone.

That is why it was shocking just three days ago, when the State House media reported that Maada Bio’s government had passed 10 of the 20 indicators in the MCC scorecard for 2024, including the crucial one on ensuring the democratic rights of the people, and that Ambassador Hunt himself had gone to State House to convey “the good new” to President Bio.

No Sierra Leonean needs to hate Maada Bio or the SLPP to know that the MCC result is as fake and fraudulent as the bogus degrees granted by Dominion University in Sierra Leone, which forced the government to shut down the degree mill.

How could the Bio government had passed scorecards in granting democratic rights when it was under local and international censure for perhaps one of the most blatant rigging of elections ever in the continent of Africa?

How could the MCC had given Bio a pass in democratic rights when his government has outlawed public demonstrations and mercilessly killed innocent Sierra Leoneans demonstrating for their rights?

Will anyone ever again take these MCC results seriously in Sierra Leone?

Stunned Sierra Leoneans immediately started asking what is going on and what kind of shady diplomatic shenanigan is the U. S playing. The U.S states that the MCC is an independent organization that is not under the control of the Federal government. That being so, what business does Ambassador Hunt have in acting as the bearer of the deceitful news to Maada Bio?

The MCC has its own office and people on the ground. They should have carried the fake MCC result to Bio, not Ambassador Hunt, if indeed the MCC is independent.

Ambassador Hunt’s action on Monday and his praises for Bio and even posing in photo ops with him clearly show U. S hypocrisy, duplicity and complicity in the clandestine operations of the MCC, a discredited institution that Sierra Leoneans had long flagged as being collaborators with Maada Bio in destroying democracy in Sierra Leone.

U. S foreign policy has always been under suspicion for its hypocritical nature. Neither the MCC nor Ambassador Hunt’s action on Monday exonerated the U. S and speaking here as a citizen of the U.S, I consider it a shame. I expect a lot from the United States of America, to say the least. We cannot in one breath be giving hope to the people of Sierra Leone and in another breath acting in a manner that suggests that we are engaged in hypocrisy and double standards.

It is still possible that the MCC might still not re-admit Bio into the MCC Compact in December until he proves his commitment to implementing all the reforms about to be suggested by the tripartite committee to be set up after the internationally mediated post-election dialogue between the ruling SLPP and the opposition APC. That is not the concern of the many Sierra Leoneans I have spoken to about this matter. Their worry is that the MCC’s falsified scorecards and the mixed messages from the U.S will embolden Maada Bio to commit worse atrocities including curtailing democratic and human rights, as well as the rule of law. And this will be a tragedy of calamitous proportions to the country.



  1. Sierra Leoneans are anxiously waiting for the United States to fulfill their part of the deal to provide sustainable electricity for our capital city , Freetown after passing the MCC scorecard for SIX consecutive years. I hope and pray that the USA are not purposely interfering in our elections just to divert the $400 million to Ukrain and Israel.

  2. Rev. Kabs Kanu is not a politician but a wishful thinker!!
    You claim to advocate for Sierra Leoneans and I keep on wondering for which Sierra Leoneans are you advocating??? Leave politics for the politicians and concentrate on asking God for forgiveness, for your divisive and hate filled editoring of your Cocorioko news outlet.
    My advice to you Rev. Kanu is to do your best to bring peace and prosperity, not political instability. Stay in your comfort zone in the US and leave us in PEACE!!
    By the way, you can use your influence to bring peace in Salone, by just calling for a referendum to abolish all political parties in the next elections, and we all will create a government of NATIONAL UNITY.
    As a man of GOD these are the issues you should be engaged in, don’t you think so?? No malice my friend and country man!!

  3. I do agree absolutely that America’s professed values of human rights, democracy and freedom at home are questionable. Her attempt to export those shifting values abroad is also fraught with non-universality, inconsistency, hypocrisy and double standards informed by geopolitics and economic self-interest. I do not want to bring here a litany of examples. Suffice it to say that the Americans once had the late South African President Nelson Mandela in their so-called Terrorists Watch list. What was his crime? The great man was only calling for the invoking of American-like values of freedom and equality and simply asking for the then apartheid regime in his homeland to let everyone – no matter the colour or creed-live side by side happily. He was not trying to fight a war of independence like the Americans nor was he trying to fight-off and drive away invaders from his land like what America-backed Zelenski is doing and rightly so in Ukraine.

    Having said that about the Americans, i believe strongly that in this case of the MCC, the regime or programme was genuinely put in place driven bya dose of largesse and altruism  to by and large come to the aid of the candidates pool of 80 or so low-income countries as determined every July by the World bank. It is that urge to really give a helping hand that Uncle Sam is dangling millions of dollars in front of the leaders of these countries in the fervent hope that the specks in their eyes will disappear and they will be motivated and incentivised to do the right thing for their countries and peoples- governing them justly and democratically, investing in them and not in themselves as well as promoting economic freedom. And of course a compact award is also predicated upon how well a previously awarded compact or threshold was implemented and any emerging or current egregious issues in the aftermath or implementation phase of the programme. That is a big ask for many of these poor countries with multi-dimensional problems. In cognizant of that fact and taking lessons from the Mo Ibrahim Foundation index whose bar or threshold has been set by African standards so high that there has only been 7 Mo Ibrahim Laureates winning the $5million prize since its inception. Do i hear you African leaders say £5 million is chicken feed? The MCC i am sure will not like to see no one qualifies for their freebies three years on the bounce – hence their light touch. Pass marks are never set in stone. The MCC  has dished out over $15 billion since the organization’s inception. Most West African countries more or less, bar those with military regimes, will always have a shouting chance to be considered for a compact or at least a threshold as they populate the bottom rungs of the world poverty ladder in terms of GDP per capita. It is certainly the case for Sierra  Leone which is projected to go one step down the ladder and become the 2nd poorest in the world by year’s end.

    The last point i want to make is to contextualize further Sierra Leone’s borderline score. Apart from the qualifying years used in computing the MCC scores,  setting our eyes over to our next door neighbours could give us a proper sense of perspective or a dose or two of realism. I think with all the shenanigans in Sierra Leone this year, the score will not be a pass next year. How does Sierra Leone’s score of 10/20 this year compare or juxtapose with our next door neighbour? Liberia had 14/20 and yet the Government of George Weah could not get the backing of over 55% of the Liberian voters in the recent 1st round of voting. The Sierra Leone Government gloating over a borderline pass tells you the despicable depth of desperation they will go to clutch at straws to justify that flimsy claim that they did not steal those elections and that an unproven and logic-defying 56% of Sierra Leoneans voted for them despite them tanking the economy, reducing the GDP per capita almost yearly, crashing the Leone, depleting the foreign reserves to less than the value of 3 months of imports and burying the country under an avalanche of debt.

  4. Santhikie Sorie, Dauda Yilla, Osman Thollie and others,some of our compatriots are politically demented. That is why they do not think right. Their sense of integrity has also become warped and distorted by political partisanship. Nothing is wrong, once it is done by the SLPP.I have since read through them and that is why I no longer respond to them, because I will be wasting sweet-smelling powder on the back of a lizard.
    Let them continue to wallow in their lily-mindedness. What I am glad about is that we who are exposing and crying down this despicable despot, Maada Bio, are creating tremendous impact . I know the kind of reception we received three weeks ago when we took his complaints to the U.S. State of Department and the UN. I personally contacted the UN Secretary General on behalf of the Concerned Sierra Leoneans, led by Attorney Alfred Veenod Fullah and he gave us an appointment for a meeting, and though something came up with regards to the Israeli-Hamas war and he had to travel, he dispatched a very high-powered team to meet with us for a closed door session at the UN. Our complaints will be thoroughly looked into, we were assured. The UN is concerned about the volatile situation in West Africa. I read Emma Scott’s comment and laughed at her in my heart. I know what we discussed but we are diplomatically constrained to publish everything. We were even told not to take photos after I took the first two because according to UN Protocol, they are supposed to be neutral.
    I cannot wait for the day Maada Bio receives his just dessert for all his blood he has shed, his human rights abuses and other crimes against the people of Sierra Leone. I would personally love to clamp on him the handcuffs my own self . Bio is going down. It is only a matter of time. Even the U.S.Ambassador, Byan Hunt, has clarified the issue after my article. He has told AYV TV that Maada Bio will not be given the U.S. $500 million MCC Compact grant based on those MCC scorecards . He said it is a long way yet to get the compact money. Rather, Bio’s commitment to implement the recommendations about to be made by the proposed tripartite committee will also be considered. Therefore, those who think we are not being heard are to be pitied. If these Maada Bio sycophants carefully read Resolution 3 of the recent mediated SLPP/APC dialogue, they would have noticed that the 2023 elections is far from over. We cannot rule out early elections in Sierra Leone. We cannot also rule out the restructuring and detribalizing of the Elections Commission, PPRC, Statistics, NCRC–The institutions Maada Bio used to rig the elections- to make sure that what happened on June 24 never happens in Sierra Leone again. Bio too belatedly noticed that Resolution 3 is a big trap and we learnt that he was mad that David Sengeh signed the communique. Heady days are ahead in Sierra Leone. International mediators knew what they were working on when they convinced all elected APC officials to return and take their seats.The reforms about to be ushered in Sierra Leone by the tripartite committee will strip Maada Bio off all his tribal strangeholds and make it difficult for the SLPP to steal another election in Sierra Leone.
    Let us keep our finger crossed. It is not over yet.

    • KABS KANU Stated, “I read Emma Scott’s comment and laughed at her in my heart.”
      Well, It Is Said That “HE WHO LAUGHS LAST LAUGHS BEST.”


  5. It is most probably you that need to be healed, Mr Sam Koineh. Healed from that dubious and phoney sense of logic and optimism of yours that holds that there is a ‘process’ of national self-redemption and progress under way in Bio’s Sierra Leone and that that process should be trusted.

    Kabs Kanu, Santhkie Sorie and I have no time for such faulty logic and misplaced optimism, which are in essence an exercise in self-delusion, praise singing, hero-worshipping and kowtowing to the powers that be.

    We eschew hypocrisy and facile optimism. We look at the political, social and economic realities of our country in the face and call them as they are.

    We do not beatify, nay deify leaders known for killing our fellow compatriots and for bastardising our democracy in the service of their egregious desire to remain in power.

    Our stance has a name. It is called integrity.

  6. Sam Koineh , how can somebody have a positive mindset in the midst of turmoil that can be addressed from different angles? Do you happen to be aware of what has brought us to this exchange, which could amass some heat? Do you candidly think of the kind of Sierra Leone in which your children and grandchildren will live in? Do you get pleasure out of a political climate in which you could be killed for just saying I DISAGREE ? What would you do if a straw presented itself at the moment of drowning and leaving your loved ones behind?
    Unless ,in our diverse ways, we stand up for a clean political system where every individual’s vote is made to count, the two major political parties (SLPP and APC) will ensure that the next sixty three years will follow the path of the last sixty three to make it a total of one hundred and sixty six years since independence. I don’t know how old you are Sam, but do you think you will be around for the next sixty plus years? I doubt it, therefore fight for your descendants , and encourage anyone who shows signs of willingness to help whenever and wherever you may find them. It may mean jumping into the bed with the devil for a little while.
    If the United States and the rest of the Western world are willing and ready to help us develop an enviable and unblemished democracy we should embrace them selfishly. Leaving things in the hands of SLPP and APC should not come within the circumference of our thinking, they have been a hopeless case for nearly sixty three years. Let us yank ourselves from their grip and start thinking objectively to show them that we are not mentally retarded although we may be stupid. Kabs Kanu, Dauda Yillah and myself are just showing signs of life in the head in our bottomless patriotism.

  7. Gel, you certainly come across as someone with a positive mindset and integrity.I wish self-aclaimed journalists like Kabs Kanu, Mr. Dauda Yillah and Santhkie Sorie would spare time to read your short comment,and be healed.

    • It was once said that those who have ideas do not get voted. Those who do not have any iota of idea get voted and interestingly, most in the African Diaspora have affinity for those who do not have any idea but dwell on lies and misinformation. So to some of them, any achievement other than what they perceived is stunning. It is like the rival mothers in a polygamous marriage. All they want to see and hear is problem, and disappointment and nothing good. Unfortunately we live in a small global village where you can mislead some foreigners some of the time but you can’t mislead all of them all of the time. Do you expect anything to come out of such bad heart people? If e hart you, go police.

  8. Kabs Kanu, I am really disappointed in you that, with all your education and experience in journalism that you nursed any hope that USA, the IMF, the World Bank or the European Union, champions of colonialism, mean any good for Sierra Leone. Wake up, Mr Kanu, stop deceiving yourself, read a few articles about how America, and the west had and continue to mess up the geopolitics and the economic progress of the African continent. Allow me to reference the west’s role in the current suffering of our brothers in the Congo region as well as the dangerous double standards America is playing in the Gaza- Israel conflict. America is the greatest weapon manufacturer in the world and is partly surviving from the proceeds of the sale of weapons both to the Palestinians and the Israelis. Please do not bring America into our political equation because what can be amicably resolved by us between the SLPP and the APC would escalate into a quagmire.

    • It seems to me that Kabs Kanu is justified in bringing ‘America into our political equation’. Is it not the case that the person who pays the piper calls the tune? Can the APC and SLPP call that tune when you consider that for the best part of the sixty-two years or so that they have collectively held the reins of power, they have lacked the imaginativeness and resourcefulness needed to create a thriving, largely self-reliant economy and a united and cohesive society? Has Sierra Leone not been all these years an ethno-regionally fractured, fissured and fragmented and violently undemocratic polity, chronically tottering along on the wheels of a rickety begging bowl economic engine, which is all that the APC-SLPP duopolistic rule has been able to offer?

      • Mr. Yillah, it appears you are of the same negative mindset like Mr. Kanu. We may be struggling to get back on our feet, but the only true solution has to come from within, not to hope that we sit on our loins and expect that external forces like the USA, the European Union or whatever,are the panacea. It is helpful to NOT write or talk, impulsively but do so with logic and optimism so you can see the bright side of things. We are not yet at our desired destination, but we are not going to abandon the journey because it is difficult. Like Rwanda, South Africa and Kenya, we will get on the right tract to socio-economic recovery and development. Trust the process and be healed.

        • Well, Mr Sam Koineh, bringing the West into Sierra Leone’s ‘political equation’ is prompted by the fact that the two main parties that have governed the country for the best part of the six decades that it has been politically independent, have done precisely nothing more than ‘sit on their loins’, content, as it were, with holding out begging bowls for sustenance to the USA, Britain and the European Union. Is it any surprise then for the West to feel entitled, empowered and emboldened to claim the moral high ground and assume a political pedagogical role, telling us how to run our country? To my mind, it is more than time that both the APC and SLPP grew up, ditched their abhorrent begging bowl national economic strategy and came up with homegrown answers to our problems. I hope that the Panafricanist that you claim to be will agree with me on this point.

  9. Kabs Kanu has forcefully expressed the feelings of the majority of Sierra Leoneans, vis-a-vis, the conflicting messages coming from Washington through Ambassador Hunt. But I would contend that we waited for the backbone of democracy ( The U.S) to crack over the issue of Sierra Leone for any ultimate declaration to be made. Henceforth all true Sierra Leoneans should become alert to see whether the mighty United States is ready to soil its reputation over diminutive Bio.
    A key indication that Bio is not intelligent enough to take the Americans on the blind side was the statement of Ambassador Hunt that a decision had not yet been made regarding the inclusion of Sierra Leone in the next round of the Millennium Challenge. Besides the Ambassador did not utter a word about the withheld $400+m because of the fraudulent general elections conducted by Bio. Fearing embarrassment in front of cameras Bio did not bring up the subject either.
    A pass of 10 out of 20 is a borderline pass; it’s even within the realm of possibilities that the score was well below that, but within the bounds of propriety and diplomatic etiquette the Ambassador urged his Government to allow him to make the score respectable, hence the absence of the immediate decision to include Sierra Leone in the next round commencing in December.
    The deafening silence of the EU may well be that the Americans are speaking on their behalf, they like the sight of Bio engaging in a dog fight with them without knowing where the trigger is.

  10. “What Is Going On?” Some Are Asking.

  11. You are the only Sierra Leonean with so much hate for President Bio and the SLPP.
    America is not gullible and their Ambassador is not seeking political affirmation from any politically party in Sierra Leone for them to come up with what the MCC has scored pass mark for President Bio. The MCC is an independent organization that is not under the control of the Federal government so your assertions are baseless.
    Well done President Bio and God Bless the Republic of Sierra Leone!

    • GEL, far from it, I do not hate Maada Bio as a person. He was created like me by God so why would I hate him ? What I hate are the things Bio has done and continues to do in my country. Maada Bio came to power with an antagonistic and vengeful spirit to divide Sierra Leone along tribal, ethnic and regional lines and to undo everything his predecessors Presidents Ahmad Tejan Kabbah and Ernest KOROMA had done to promote national unity, national cohesion and national reintegration in Sierra Leone.

      Bio came to revenge and only somebody who truly loves Sierra Leone can see and admit this fact. Bio set up his government and structured the society in a manner deliberately designed to divide our country along tribal, ethnic and regional lines. Dismissals and appointments were made to elevate one ethnic group at the expense of others. Bio failed to pay heed to the fact that Sierra Leone is a very fragile post/ conflict country that still needed all tribal, ethnic and regional wounds healed.

      When I served Sierra Leone in the UN as Minister Plenipotentiary , I did not only work in the UN Security Council as Coordimator of the African Union Committee of 10 on UN Security Council Reform , I also served on the UN PeaceBiilding Commission Sierra Leone Specific Configuration where we worked relentlessly day and night to help the government practice a system of political tolerance, inclusion and national integration. The Commission identified political and ethnic exclusion, intolerance and extremism as divisive forces that contributed to the 11 – year war that killed over 60,000 innocent people and destroyed our infrastructure.

      We ensured that appointments were not based on tribe or region. We ensured that civil society, women’s and children’s organization, the media , professional associations , Parliament and the judiciary all pursued policies that helped to integrate citizens of all shades , tribal, regional and religious persuasions into the governance system. We also came down hard on the government to allow citizens their rights to assemble and to protest against things they did not like. Bio came and undid our labors.

      Bio outlawed peaceful assemblies and demonstrations . Police used disproportional force and live bullets on peaceful demonstrators and in the process murdered and maimed innocent protesters in Makeni, Mile 91, Tombo, Lunsar, Tonko Limba and Freetown. Bio ruled through violence and human rights abuses and everything I am saying here continue to be graphically published every year by the U. S State Department and Amnesty International on their Country Reports on Sierra Leone. Bio is taking advantage of the people. When he is not extrajudicially killing opponents , he is trashing the economy.

      Look at the shameful state of our national currency, the Leone, which is now one of the most useless currencies in the world. A heartless man full of the spirit of impunity , Bio spends his time and the meager resources from the Consolidated Fund to make worthless and wasteful trips around the world . Under him, the economy has virtually collapsed and the prices of food and basic commodities have gone through the roof.

      And Bio now has the gumption and callousness to impose 5% taxes on the national staple, rice and gas, which will soon see Sierra Leone buying a bag of rice one million leones when the standard wage in Sierra Leone is Le 500,00 for senior civil servants while ordinary citizens hardly receive 100,000 a month . How does Bio expect our people to eat, pay their rents and other utilities and send their children to school . I can go on and on and on. These are just the tip of the iceberg of the reasons that some of us oppose Maada Bio. It is not because we hate him as some of you erroneously assert.

      Our country is yearning for a redeemer, a leader with a heart for the people, who will restructure the economy, provide more jobs and opportunities, reduce prices and alleviate the suffering of our people. Bio does not have a heart and behaves with impunity and the Spirit of impunity , according to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission ( TRC), was one of the causes of the war. Please excuse typos.

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