Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 June 2019:
Liberia’s former president – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is in Makeni, Northern Sierra Leone today, where she is holding talks with the former president of Sierra Leone – Ernest Bai Koroma.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is in Sierra Leone this weekend to attend tomorrow Sunday’s launching of the Tejan Kabba Foundation for Peace and Democracy in Freetown.
It is not clear why the former Liberian president is visiting Ernest Bai Koroma, but there are speculations her visit may not be unconnected with the rising political tension and recent violence in Sierra Leone, following the defeat of the Ernest Bai Koroma’s APC party at the polls last March.
Relations between the Bio-led SLPP government and the APC turned sour, after the election of the country’s speaker of parliament, which the APC says was unconstitutional, given the APC’s majority in parliament at the time.
Then came election petitions and disqualification of a whole swathe of elected APC members of parliament, accused by the ruling SLPP of electoral malpractice. The decision to exclude them from parliament has recently been endorsed by the judiciary.
The opposition APC have made their complaints known to the West African regional body – ECOWAS, including the sacking of hundreds of public servants by the SLPP government believed to be appointees of the former APC government, as well as violence against their supporters which they say have been carried out by the SLPP.
APC have also expressed deep concern over the removal of the security detail of former president Koroma, without consultation with the former president.
President Bio has recently been invited for talks in Senegal and Guinea with the aim of finding a peaceful resolution to the political impasse that has engulfed Sierra Leone.
It is understood that Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will be hoping to help ease tension between the Bio-led SLPP government and the APC, by holding talks with the APC chain of command in Makeni.
Arriving in Makeni, the former Liberian President said: “I cannot come to Sierra Leone and leave without seeing my brother”.
According to report from the Office of former president Koroma, Ernest Bai Koroma has been invited to attend tomorrow’s launch of the Ahmed Tejan Kabba Foundation, but said he will attend subject to the government restoring his personal security.
The government had said it had withdrawn the state security attached to former president Koroma on the grounds of ‘routine security rotation’.
But the former president objected to what he regarded as the unceremonious manner in which “such so-called routine security rotation” was done, saying it was “suspect, discourteous and unacceptable”.
The office of former president Koroma says that despite Koroma’s protests and his expressed concern for his safety, the government has failed to restore the former president’s state security, which will make it impossible for Koroma to attend tomorrow’s launch of the Tejan Kabbah Foundation in Freetown.
It is expected that both the former Liberian president and Ernest Bai Koroma, may travel together in the former Liberian president’s convoy to Freetown to attend the launch.
But supporters and senior executives of the ruling SLPP are calling for former president Koroma to step down from active national politics.
“Until he does, he will not receive the respect deserving of a former president,” says one senior government minister.