Sierra Leone Telegraph: 10 January 2024:
The government of Sierra Leone is yet to officially confirm whether the US government has invited a cross-party Sierra Leone delegation to Washington, comprising of government ministers, the opposition APC parliamentary leadership, and civil society, to discuss progress in achieving the signed national unity agreement, amid growing political tension following the June 23, 2023 elections, the outcome of which the US government and international election observers say does not reflect the will of the people of Sierra Leone.
Since the elections, the government of President Bio is being accused of political vendetta and witch-hunt against the main opposition APC party leadership, whom the government is alleging to have plotted and carried out a failed coup on 26 November 2023, leading to the arrest and detention of over 60 members and supporters of the APC – most of whom are from the northern tribes of Sierra Leone.
Since the alleged attempted coup of 26 November, 28 people have been charged to court with treason related offences, including the former President of Sierra Leone – Dr Ernest Bai Koroma and his security staff.
The arrest and detention of former President Koroma has heightened political tension and risk of civil war, prompting the West African regional block – ECOWAS to honour a request from former President Koroma to seek asylum in Nigeria.
Although the former president’s request has been accepted by Nigeria’s president Tinubu, the government of Sierra Leone has refused to honour the ECOWAS request for the temporary relocation of Koroma to Nigeria while court hearing continues.
As political tension rises in Sierra Leone over the stalled signed national peace accord between the government and the opposition APC, the international community are keen to ensure that the terms of the accord are implemented without delay, including review of the 2023 elections.
Latest media reports say that Sierra Leone’s Chief Minister – David Sengeh is expected to lead a seven-man delegation, including the APC leader in Parliament – Abdul Kargbo to Washington DC, for engagement and consultations with senior members of the Executive Branch and Congress of the United States Government and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) to discuss the country’s commitment to continue with the implementation of the “Agreement of National Unity”.
The proposed delegation is said to include Sierra Leone’s Minister of Foreign Affairs – Timothy Kabba; the SLPP Majority Leader in Parliament – Matthew Nyuma; Abdul M Fatoma – Civil Society representative; Prince Coker – President of the All Political Parties Association; and Ndeye Koroma – CEO of the Millennium Challenge Corporation Unit in Sierra Leone.
But senior executives and members of the opposition APC are strongly opposed to any suggestion of the APC leadership joining SLPP government delegation to the US, for talks with the US government, while former President Koroma is serving detention under house arrest, awaiting treason trial scheduled for next week.
Speaking to the Sierra Leone Telegraph, a senior national advisory committee member of the opposition APC said: “As of now, the APC membership do not have time to investigate whether there was any communication or not regarding the 7-Man delegation including the APC parlaimentary leader, led by David Sengeh to the MCC.
“What is of importance at this point in time is to stop the APC Parliamentary leadership from going, and at the same time use the occasion to direct the narrative towards the full implementation and actualization of resolution 3 of the peace accord communique which is ongoing in the Tripartite Committee that includes both the APC, SLPP, and the International Community.
“Honourable Abdul Kargbo and no one else from the APC membership should henceforth participate in any other Bio led government initiative to launder their image until resolution 3 is fully actualized.”
Many members of the APC are not only sceptical and opposed to the proposed SLPP Sengeh-led delegation including APC parliamentary leader Abdul Kargbo, but are calling for answers to the following questions:
Was Abdul Kargbo in the office of David Sengeh as recently as about a week ago? If so, what did they discuss?
Was Kargbo’s latest visit to Sengeh related to the Washington trip?
Was Kargbo not aware that his name had been included in the delegation to Washington?
Why did Kargbo not see it necessary to inform and discuss with the APC national leadership, about the proposed delegation to Washington?