Sierra Leone Telegraph: 17 June 2021:
Concerns are growing among Sierra Leone’s international development partners over the government’s inability to effectively implement much needed development programmes, despite hundreds of millions of dollars being pumped into the country to help the Bio-led government address growing poverty and inequalities.
Opposition political parties are complaining about the rapid erosion of civil liberty, law and order, and the rolling back of Sierra Leone’s post war democratic gains since President Bio took power in 2018, which has now led to the formation of a coalition of about 13 political parties to counter this threat.
There are fears also about the growing threat of China’s imposing presence in Sierra Leone, through its investments and development programmes which many say are designed to increase China’s control and exploitation of Sierra Leone’s vast natural resources.
Yesterday, Wednesday 16th June, Germany – one of Sierra Leone’s major international development assistance providers, sent its Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development and delegation including three Members of Parliament to Sierra Leone on a fact-finding visit, and held talks with President Dr Julius Maada Bio as part of their two-day working visit in the country.
With general and presidential elections due in less than two years, international development partners are beginning to get nervous about the country descending into chaos and violence, as political tension continues to rise.
Although State House in Freetown has remained tight lipped about the full discussions between President Bio and German minister, Gerhard Gerd Müller, however according to State House report, the German minister told president Bio that ‘Sierra Leone and Germany have a long-standing relationship that has benefited both countries, adding that his visit to the country is aimed at deepening and strengthening bilateral cooperation’.
“Thank you very much His Excellency for making time to meet with us. We look forward to strengthening and deepening this relationship,” he concluded.
President Julius Maada Bio also thanked the German delegation for coming to Sierra Leone, notwithstanding threats of the Coronavirus, adding that he deeply appreciated the visit, which he hoped would expand areas of cooperation between the two countries. “Thank you very much and welcome to Sierra Leone,” President Bio said.
Opposition parties are hoping that with Germany’s soft diplomacy and support from other Western donor partners, leverage could be brought to change the Bio-led government’s political and economic direction of travel that is creating political tension and driving poverty across the country.