EU member of parliament and US Ambassador to Sierra Leone held talks with former president Koroma

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 29 October 2021:

Norbert Neuser – a Member of the European Parliament and the EU Election Follow-up Mission and his team, held discussions with former President Koroma – the outgoing Chairman and Leader of the main opposition All Peoples Congress (APC), at his residence in Freetown on Tuesday.

Neuser said that the Mission was in Freetown to follow up on the EU recommendations made after the country’s 2018 elections.

The EU has been a regular and very strong supporter of Sierra Leone’s Democratic process. One of its main activities is strengthening electoral management through provision of experts, logistics assistance and elections monitoring. Following such monitoring, the EU usually presents a report inclusive of recommendations.

After the conclusion of the controversial 2018 elections which the SLPP won by a very narrow margin of about 3 percentage points, the EU made 29 recommendations – “chief amongst which include improving on gender representation in elective positions, the management of elections particularly on the tallying and computation process and the general transparency of elections,” said the Mission’s Team Lead – Electoral Expert, Dominic Howell. (Photo above: Norbert Neuser, member of the European Parliament and the EU Election Follow-up Mission and his team meeting president Koroma last Tuesday in Freetown).

President Koroma reiterated his support for the implementation of the recommendations. He also shared his vast experience in the conduct of elections in Sierra Leone and Africa in general, and pointed out issues regarding transparency, integrity and credibility of elections.

The statesman emphasized that those are critical for acceptable and peaceful electoral outcomes.

In another development, former President Koroma also held a closed door meeting with Ambassador David Reimer, the American Ambassador to Sierra Leone. (Photo).

“I am very pleased to have met Ambassador Reimer; we had a great and frank discussion”, said former President Koroma.

Writing today about the high-level meetings former president Koroma has had with the international community this week, this is what Titus Boye-Thompson said:

Pressure continues to mount on the Sierra Leone Peoples Party’s Paopa  government to accept what is expected to be the democratic outcome in the 2023 general elections and more particularly to have regard for the choices that the people would make in those polls by allowing for a level playing field and to create the conducive atmosphere for this to happen.

These sentiments appear to be the evocative statements being made by the flurry of diplomatic approaches and gestures toward the former President by almost all of the top development partners in Sierra Leone.

Continuing on  from a couple of weeks ago when the EU Ambassador and the British High Commissioner visited the former President at his residence in Freetown on the same day, the EU Follow-on Team arrived in Freetown this week to assess progress made after the 2018 elections on the recommendations of the then  EU observer team.

The EU Election Follow – Up Mission, led by Norbert Neuser, a member of the European Parliament  held discussions with the outgoing Chairman and Leader of the All Peoples Congress Party, Dr Ernest Bai Koroma, at his residence in Freetown, Friday 29th October 2021.

According to a Press Release from the Europe Union office in Freetown, “the purpose of EU Election Follow Up Mission is to undertake a technical assessment of the state of implementation of the 29 recommendations made by the EU election Observation Mission back in 2018.” It is believed that the implementation of these recommendations would enhance the integrity, inclusiveness and transparency of the elections process in 2023, It will be recalled that one of these recommendations was for a fixed date for elections so that the habit of restructuring the electoral cycle is avoided as a means of adding extra time to presidential terms.

Following their deliberations with the APC Chairman and Leader, the EU delegation admitted that their intelligence speaks of decreasing trust in the essential  institutions that would ultimately be responsible for the forthcoming 2023 General Elections , naming the Judiciary, NEC, PPRC and the Police.

These institutions have been identified as critical to a democratic process  and the EU Follow-on team underpinned the importance of trust  as a necessary ingredient to enable  these institutions to do the right thing under the Constitution of Sierra Leone  otherwise failure would result in a breakdown in the foundations of the democratic systems necessary for the credibility of the elections in 2023 to be maintained.

Addressing the EU Follow-Up Team, former President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma weighed in with support for the EU Observer team’s recommendations to be implemented. Drawing on his vast experience of elections management in Sierra Leone and Africa, the erstwhile African statesman pointed out issues that go directly to matters of transparency, integrity and credibility of elections and also touched on how these precepts relate to the import for peace, stability and an enhanced democratic dispensation within nations.

In another engagement, former President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma met with the Head of the US diplomatic mission to Sierra Leone, Ambassador David Reimer, after which the former President referred to their time together as being spent having “a great and frank discussion.” The American Ambassador was also upbeat about their engagement and is quoted as saying that the USA had a duty to the country, to see democracy flourish and as such, would not support one party over another.

Political observers have been rather apprehensive that these incessant calls for democracy, inclusiveness and credibility of the electoral process in Sierra Leone do indicate that the international community is applying mounting pressures on the ‘Paopa’ SLPP government of President Bio because they see that the record of this regime has been less than convincing of any ability to manage or supervise a free and fair electoral process in 2023.

The prospects of a regime change seem more and more plausible for what is seen to be a failing and wasteful government.

On the other hand, one could surmise that the development partners are reaching out so openly to the former President as the Chairman and Leader of the APC, the largest political party in the country, to demonstrate their acceptance of a continuing role for Dr Ernest Bai Koroma at the head of the Party as he continues to build a career as an African or Regional statesman.

These moves indicate that it would not be amiss to see the APC Chairman and Leader continue in the new role of Party Chairman under its new Constitution because of his demonstrably expert way of managing the affairs of the Party  due to his vast experience of deepening democracy and upholding peaceful principles in the country. In short, Sierra Leone needs a stable hand to guide it through the rough times ahead!

13 Comments

  1. Bilal Coleman , it appears as if you’re quick to take things out of context and so misunderstand them. My mentioning of NATO was simply to underscore the point that Western Nations are tied to each other in one form or the other. You take Turkey for example : It is not a full member of the European Union (EU) but a member of NATO. Now tell me in all honesty if the findings of the EU Mission in Sierra Leone would not be revealed to the Turks if they asked for it? Political stability is a key element in attracting foreign investment. But if we cannot even organise a simple by-election without violence, don’t you think investors will be wary of committing themselves hugely to our economy.

    In a strict sense, Sierra Leone does not have an army. How in this world can it stand up to NATO? We are not even qualified to clean its tanks let alone its fighter jets. When the rebel war broke out we had to rely on outside forces for it ultimate end because we did not have an army, we only had paper commanding generals. Sierra Leone, a threat to NATO? Please think again. And also please learn to understand the context in which expressions are made and their inference, I shall catch up with you on another issue. Killing civilians is what our army is trained for. Many thanks.

  2. Adewale John, thanks for pointing out misleading utterance by diehard PAOPA apologist. Folks like Bilal Coleman tends to forget that they are not dealing with their typical villagers in this platform. Like Mr. Matturi had pointed out a while back, a couple of keyboard strokes searching the Sierra Leone telegraph commentary database will reveal that Mr. Coleman is a diehard PAOPA ,whom many of us have had to call him out, regarding his propagandist utterance. He disappeared for a while only to resurface with an outlandish claim of him being an NGC supporter. God only knows what kind of epiphany he had undergone that transpose him to an NGC loyalists yet remains a PAOPA.

  3. Bilal – President Bio was recognized last month as ‘the West African president of the year’ by a major European institution? Please can you name this organisation because from reports it was a small unknown private management consultancy firm based in London that gave this so called award to president Bio.

  4. Santhkie Sorie, thanks for responding to my comments and for pointing out what was obviously an error in my arguments in the second paragraph of my post. There is a typo in that paragraph. The word “with” in the first sentence should have been “without”. In essence what I meant to convey in that paragraph was that there is no way that any international organization would visit Sierra Leone without the explicit invitation of the Government of Sierra Leone. And that given the protocols and nuances of international diplomacy, it would be foolhardy for any international organization visiting Sierra Leone to enter into a collusion with a discredited former head of state like Ernest Bai Koroma. You and I know that international organizations cannot be seen as impartial actors in the corridors of international diplomacy.

    I also wanted to convey that your statement that “Maada Bio is not a favorite of the Western Alliance right now which includes NATO” was outlandish and unsubstantiated. If anything, it contradicts the fact that President Bio is considered by global alliances as a great and forward thinking head of state. Was the president not recognized last month as ‘the West African president of the year’ by a major European institution? That notwithstanding, it is beyond my comprehension how Sierra Leone and Maada Bio would instantly become a security threat that would draw the attention of NATO, a predominantly military organization of twenty eight European and two North American countries.

  5. Bilal Coleman, thanks once again for your response. I think you should reread what you wrote. The second paragraph is quite ambiguous or paradoxical to some extent. If you have to correct it , it may enhance my understanding of your contention. Of course Sierra Leone should be governed by its own laws, indeed this should be the case for all countries. But this should be on the premise that such laws are respected by all. There should be no such thing as one law for the elite and one for the rest. The people you refer to as our development partners (The EU) see the respect of the Rule of Law as one of the strongest pillars of democracy. And since we are forever knocking on their door with a begging bowl they will tell us what to do. To call ourselves, therefore, as independent and sovereign is completely misplaced and a simulation. we cannot even organise a by-election without violence. Bio has all the levers of power in his hands to ensure that all elections are free and fair.

    Let me make it clear once more that no one can contrive how much I abhor both SLPP and APC because of what they have done to my beloved country for over sixty years without respite. There are individuals in both parties ,however, that I tend to like politically ,like Ngevao (SLPP) Sylvia Blyden (APC) Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyer (APC) because I see them as a force for good and progress . I may give them by back if they ran into me in a bar if you see what I mean. I distinguish between the private and public persona of politicians. I am ready to string up Maada Bio at the next lamp post for what he does in my name as a Sierra Leonean. What he does in his private life is his business and his alone.

    Finally Bilal let me draw your attention to something intricately important. It’s not always possible to make analyses based on raw data. So, whatever somebody says in this realm is subject to other opinions and perceptions, it should not be taken literally until reality makes a ruling. But using the report by the EU as a guide, President Bio is seen in a dim light by the Western Alliance right now. He has been doing nothing to wean us from the tutelage of foreigners, following in the footsteps of Earnest Koroma. Let us give Dr KKY a chance to retrieve ourselves from national humiliation.

  6. Santhkie Sorie, Thanks for your response to my comments. Let me make it clear that I responded to your earlier comments because of my concern with the way your arguments were deliberately designed to obfuscate the truth. Your personal opinions about President Bio and his government are not my concern. You have every right to dislike the president and his party. That is your prerogative. But we must be careful with the statements that we make in the public domain.

    The International Community and the European Union will not even visit Sierra Leone with the invitation of the host government let alone attempt to enter into a collusion with a discredited former head of State at the detriment of a constitutionally elected government. International and multilateral institutions are very careful with how they discharge diplomacy. They must not be seem as impartial agents to any party. Secondly, your statement that “Maada Bio is not a favorite of the Western Alliance right now which includes NATO” is outlandish and unsubstantiated. When has Sierra Leone and Maada Bio become a security threat that would warrant the attention of NATO, a predominantly military organization comprising of twenty eight European and two North American countries?

    Sierra Leone is a sovereign nation and not a province of the EU. Consequently, Sierra Leone is governed by its laws and not the laws of the EU. Yes, the EU is a development partner. But it cannot dictate how Sierra Leone should be run. And to be fair, the EU has not done that. It is the opponents of the current government that are obfuscating the truth to create hysteria in the country. It is important to note that our democratic dispensation allows for presidential elections to take place every five years. Lets wait for 2023 and desist from all veiled threats directed at the government. The president has a solid record to run on and I am sure Sierra Leoneans and not the EU will ultimately decide who sits in State House for another five years.

  7. Bilal Coleman, thanks for responding to my piece. If you read the report just put out by the EU on the political scene in Sierra Leone, carried by the Telegraph, under the heading of JUSTICE DELAYED JUSTICE DENIED, it should give you a glimpse of my allusions. The EU delegation did have a meeting with president Bio too,but did it temper their debilitating criticism of the Bio government? Never. These people are not like our political Judiciary or ACC. I still maintain that Maada Bio is not a favourite of the Western Alliance Right now which includes NATO (The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) and should watch his steps. You referred me to the Patriotic Vanguard, but there was nothing of substance there, it was all rhetoric on the part of Maada Bio. He is fast losing valuable time by depending on hollow political tricks, which may fool us, but not EU, an Organisation overflowing with professionals who eat people alive in the field of diplomacy.

    But I would like us to cast aside, Bilal, whatever disagreement we may have currently to concentrate on how we as a nation are being humiliated by EU. The EU involvement in our domestic politics means that after more than sixty years of so-called independence, we still have outsiders telling us what to do or what we are doing wrong. As a Sierra Leonean I feel intensely ashamed to see my nation being treated as if it’s inhabited by infants.

    APC and SLPP are equally responsible for our demise, that is why I hate both of them and would love to drown them in the Atlantic Ocean which runs through my beloved country and give NGC and Dr Kandeh Yomkella a chance at the presidency. APC and SLPP are a curse.

  8. This analysis or wishes from Titus Boye – Thompson who is one of the main APC party propagandist is very strange. The USA and EU have invested millions within the past 3 years and continue to support our country under the New Direction government of our currently elected President Julius Maada Bio. They have expressed their admiration for our Free quality education and the recent abolition of the Death Penalty. Unfortunately,the lifetime leader and chairman of the APC party who because of his GREED and NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY is now threatening his party members with “JIHAD”.

    The USA and EU are still engulfed in fighting jihadist groups in Sub Saharan Africa even though they have withdrawn from Afghanistan after 20 years. That statement alone from the lifetime leader of the APC which is the largest opposition party has sent a shock wave to our international partners. The APC party can’t even organize a free and fair executive election within their party. They have to focus on their court battles and start organizing conventions rather than talking about 2023 presidential and parliamentary elections.

    Dr. Yumkella of the newly formed COPP party continues to keep his fingers crossed that he will eventually be the compromise candidate after the IMPLOSION of the APC. I hope and pray that the lifetime leader and “ FALSE PROPHET” of the APC will listen to the advice of his visitors about the implementation of democracy within his party rather than waging “ Holy War”.

  9. All roads leads to former president Koroma’s residence. In the last few weeks, the fomer president have had a busy schedule. From being recognised by his former African colleagues for his hard work, and more recently receiving accolades for his international peace building efforts across our trouble African continent. Before he can catch his breath, he had to readjusted his diaries and pencilled in some space to meet the growing demands of some of the foreign European diplomats posted in our country that wants to have an audience with him. president Koroma have acquired the status of former US President Jimmy Carter. Through his Jimmy Carter foundation he has maintained his good work to promote peace and democracy around the Globe. I think an Enerst Bai Koroma foundation for peace and development , will be a fitting tribute to our former president. Or better still build a Presidential Library in the centre of Makeni or Binkolo near Pamlap in his honour.

    Never ignore a wise man because ultimately he knows where all the skeletons are buried. The diplomatic attention, this fomer president has to contend with, is like he never left office. Every serving diplomat wants to have a photo op with our fomer president. Bio and his government most be feeling left out and hang out to dry.And rightly so . Whichever way you look at it, Bio’s government have turned out to be an almighty failure.. The whoes who of Western diplomats have all made the same pilgrimage to hold important talks, on how to ensure our fragile peace is maintained, and most importantly, we have a free, open and fair elections come 2023.The biggest elephant in the room no one is talking about is Bio and his lackluster government. And the reason is quite simple, his government has not only turned out to be a monumental failure on all fronts in terms of dilivery of his core manifesto promises to peoples of Sierra-leone , like fighting corruption and bringing the people of our country together, through his actions or the lack of it, he have created a massive wedge between the people and their government. People don’t trust politicians anymore. And Bio’s actions is driving the trend. What this visits by this foreign diplomats tells us, is the tectonic political plates are shifting towards the fomer president and who ever he happens to support for the 2023 presidential elections.

    Our Western partners that have poured billions of Dollars to help our country to jump start our economy, have finally concluded anyone but Boi, might just able to move the economic dial for sustainable development that our country is desperately crying out for.And Bio’s circles of friends especially China and Turkey is increasingly alarming our Western partners. The final nail to the coffin of his presidency will be inviting Russian Putin for State visit in Freetown. Bio promised to fight corruption, but corrupt public officials have never had it so good. So for our Western partners, pulling the rug under Bio’s feet is a risk worth taking. After all our country’s economic development cannot sink any lower than it is.

  10. My unrefined understanding of diplomacy tells me that it is not what is said in a press conference or in the open that really matters, but what is discussed behind closed doors – that’s where the most important things are discussed, including intelligence matters. A former Israeli intelligence officer (Victor Ostrosvsky) said that it’s what is taking place behind the scenes (about two percent) that intelligence agencies spend their time wanting to know to enable their government to take appropriate action. Sadly for Maada Bio, he does not have the wherewithal to know why there is such a flory of foreign dignitaries paying former President Koroma a visit. In the open, these dignitaries claim to just be doing a follow-up on their 2018 recommendations. But is that all?

    This should be worrying Maada Bio. Western governments and institutions seem to be giving him their collective back based on what is happening in the country, not least of which is political violence and a security force that’s out of control, commanded by Bio.

    If Maada Bio has any foresight he should know that he cannot afford to tamper with the 2023 elections or he is heading for a miserable life of penury. Western intelligence agencies know everything about his finances and could block all access to them if he has to be removed from office by force. Let him talk to former President Laurent Gbagbo about it. Oh and does he remember how British Special Forces took care of the Westside Boys? These are forces that can disable the entire Sierra Leone Army in minutes.

    • Santhkie Sorie, good analysis . But what you failed to mention is that the same EU delegation that visited Ernest Koroma also held discussions with President Julius Bio at State House. The Patriotic Vanguard and other news outlets covered that event. Thus, the insinuation that “Western governments and institutions seem to be giving him their collective back…” in reference to President Bio is misplaced. In fact the president was recently awarded ‘West Africa President of the Year’ at the 6th London Political Summit by the Carter and Merger Center of Leadership and Good Governance UK.

      I don’t think any credible western organization would risk damaging its credibility by entering into secret pact with a rogue like Ernest Koroma. Additionally, the SLPP and President Bio should be the least of the worries of the APC. The APC should be more worried about the internecine war going on within its ranks. For example, the strong internal opposition to another Samura Kamara candidacy, the PortLoko descendants’ determination to support only a candidate from PortLoko, and Sylvia Blyden initiating a lawsuit against the APC and self-proclaimed “Jihadist”. These are just a few of the serious headaches that will fragment the APC as it goes to the 2023 polls.

      To close, you are correct to suggest that in the world of diplomacy what is discussed behind closed doors matters more than what is said in a press conference. Therefore, since we do not know what was said behind closed doors with Ernest Koroma or President Bio, we should refrain from playing the guessing game.

Tell us about your views

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.