Sierra Leone Telegraph: 9th March 2022:
Former President of Sierra Leone, Dr Ernest Bai Koroma yesterday Tuesday 8th February 2022, played host to heads of the diplomatic community in the country at his Goderich residence in Freetown.
These visits were a follow-up to previous discussions and consultations relating to the country’s social and political state of affairs ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Among the visiting diplomats are the British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone, Lisa Chesney, the head of the European Union Delegation to Sierra Leone, Manuel Muller and the United States’ Ambassador in Sierra Leone, David Reimer.
The diplomats held a closed-door discussion with the former President, who also doubles as Chairman and Leader of the main opposition All Peoples Congress (APC) party.
Former President, Ernest Bai Koroma had similar engagements last October with members of the diplomatic community including the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel, Ambassador Mahemet Saleh Annadif.
It could be noted that since 2018, there has been considerable anxiety about Sierra Leone’s ‘political health’. These consultations therefore are based on a stronger commitment to promote peace, democracy and human rights in the country.
One can deduce so many things from the virtual constant visits to Ernest Koroma’s home by top diplomats which parallel visits they make to State House where President Bio does his daily business. The first thing that comes to mind is that these diplomats are eager to let the ruling SLPP and the largest opposition party (APC ) to know that they have come under the constant attention of the international community since Bio took office in 2018, given the level of political violence which has ensued since, not to mention the revengeful frame of mind which now pervades the entire APC rank and file in the event that they win the presidency in 2023. The ill-fated Commission of Inquiry (COI) set up by the Bio Government to investigate massive corruption in the Koroma Administration carries its own unique tension and unmitigated anger waiting to explode.
Another deduction which could be made is that whether the nation ,or a large sector of APC likes it or not, Earnest has managed to perpetually carve a position for himself within APC and as a result taken the nation along by the scruff of the neck, a move which has done much to shield him from the personally destructive consequences of COI. The diplomats recognise this through their actions and believe that for the stability of the country Earnest should be reckoned with, although he is not a good communicator vis-a-vis the nation.
Through their sophisticated intelligence networks, the Americans and British may know something that we don’t know, which they feel compelled to bring to the notice of Bio and Earnest and warn them about the serious nature of their information as elections draw closer. Of course they will never come out of a meeting with Maada Bio or Earnest Koroma and reveal the full contents of such meetings – diplomacy does not function like that. What we are made to know is how “FRUITFUL” the meetings are. Let us keep our ears and eyes wide open. Since we don’t want to behave like grown-ups, we will be treated like children until we come of age.
This flurry of diplomatic engagement with former president Koroma is a sign that those that helped Sierra Leone end the civil war and invested heavily on peace building will not let our country slide to the abyss what ever the outcome of the 2023 presidential elections. From Mali, to Guinea, and more recently to Putin’s war in Ukraine, it reminds us those that take peace for granted with the mistaken belief, that peace is a given not something to be nurtured and worked on at all times, by all politicians of different shades of opinion, or different political parties, and the general public at large is something we have to be constantly reminded of. In the past few months Bokina Fasso, Mali, Guinea and now Putin have reminded us all that can change in a flash of political brinkmanship. At the end of the second world war, allied powers says never again should the horrors of that war be repeated in Europe. That concept stood the test of time almost for seventy years until the break up of Yogoslavia.
Today with threat of a nuclear winter, Putin have shattered that illusion.Europen powers have woken up to the fact , the peace they enjoyed in the past was built on shaky grounds. And we don’t want our country to be in the same boat. And this move by the diplomatic service to ensure we maintain a smooth transition to our democratic experience, despite Bio’s efforts to undermine our peace dividends, is not only commendable, but all of us should be atone to what is happening around us. Our country is located in a rough neighbourhood, so we need leaders that can unit us not divide us. Government policies and politicians public statements matters to all of us, not just to their supporters or their targeted audiences.