President Bio’s visit to economically battered Lebanon amid COVID-19 raises questions

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 28 August 2020:

A press statement issued last night by State House in Freetown says that: “His Excellency President Dr. Julius Maada Bio will depart Sierra Leone today, Thursday 27 August 2020, on a private visit to the Republic of Lebanon. His Excellency will be accompanied by the First Lady, Mrs Fatima Bio. The First Family is expected to return to Sierra Leone within one week. (Photo above: President Bio and Mrs Bio in the Gambia in 2019).

“For several decades, the government of Sierra Leone and the government of Lebanon have maintained close cordial relations based on mutual respect and cooperation. This visit will further strengthen ties between the two nations.” The statement ends.

But cynics are questioning the president’s motive for embarking on a foreign trip at this difficult time, with the COVID-19 pandemic spreading uncontrollably, especially across the Middle East where the president is now on vacation.

“Who goes on vacation to a COVID-19 infested country, as Lebanon is fast becoming?” a social commentator asks.

The State House press statement does little to stop speculation about the health of the president, after his bungled holiday trip to Kenya on a Safari in 2019 prompted questions about the whereabouts of President Julius Maada Bio.

Today, president Bio’s whereabouts is not in doubt if the press statement is to be believed. What is in question is the motive for his private visit to war torn and economically battered Lebanon, where the government is fighting for its existence amid calls by the people for the resignation of the president and his ministers.

President Bio is to a lesser extent facing similar calls for his government to step down, given its incompetence in managing the worsening economic crisis in the country, despite almost $500 million poured into the country by the international community, IMF and the World Bank since president Bio came to power over two years ago.

Some cynics say that president Bio has gone to the Middle East to sell stolen diamonds. Others say he is on transit in Lebanon to Dubai for shopping and to enjoy the finer things in life, while his fellow compatriots back home in Sierra Leone are suffering and struggling to make ends meet.

Speculations about the health of the president was sparked this morning by a news report published by MTV.Com saying that president Bio has flown out of Sierra Leone for emergency treatment for COVID-19.

 This is how the SENATOR Newspaper in Freetown reported the breaking story last night:

“All efforts to reach the Presidential Spokesman and the Office of the President of Sierra Leone have been futile this evening and the same as well with the Information Minister and Government Spokesman but it is very important that State House needs to immediately update the people of Sierra Leone about the medical condition of the President of Sierra Leone.

“A respected Lebanese Television Station, the MTV, has just published this evening that H.E. President Julius Maada Bio has caught Coronavirus and will be taken for treatment to the Medical Center of the American University of Beirut.

“According to the MTV News report, “Sierra Leone President will arrive in Lebanon at midnight and the Lebanese Red Cross awaits him to transfer him to AUBMC to receive coronavirus treatment”.

“This news is now viral. Please, State House is urged to contact this newspaper so we can help to clear the air or confirm the news in our tomorrow publication. Thank you.”

Then came this report from a local journalist in Sierra Leone:

Here is the link to the MTV Website breaking: https://www.mtv.com.lb/News/Live_Feed/1095124/Sources-to-MTV-Sierra-Leone-President-will-arrive-in-Lebanon-at-midnight-and-the-Lebanese-Red-Cross-awaits-him-to-transfer-him-to-AUBMC-to-receive-coronavirus-treatment

10 Comments

  1. This is an opposition news platform and always critical of SLPP government. Who is calling for Bio to step down this how you mislead people that are not in Sierra Leone. you guys should be mindful of what you say or write.

  2. This move by our President Julius Maada Bio is very positive, because it shows a lot of gratitude towards our Lebanese brethren who showed their love and support for our country by sending Doctors and medical professionals during this difficult times. This visit will also help boost the moral of the Lebanese government because their country has been recently portrayed as
    “Hell breaking loose” because of the economic problems and social unrest eclipsed by the explosion that took place in Beirut which lost of innocent lives. I hope and pray that President Bio will enjoy this one week vacation with his beautiful and lovely wife and First Lady Mrs. Fatima Bio, and May the Almighty grant them travel mercy.

  3. Mr. Matturi, the article says nothing about Sierra Leone.

    But if you are familiar with the way the motor industry works, it is very unlikely that your suspicion might be incorrect. First Bo unlike Makeni has no constant electricity supply, which is a prerequisite for manufacturing factories. Secondly, the human resources in Sierra Leone is highly deficient compared to countries like Ghana, Algeria South Africa and recently Rwanda. It would not be profitable therefore for manufacturers like Nissan to open a plant in a country that does not have the people with the technical and IT skills. Nigeria had Peugeot assembly plants years back. It folded because of lack of constant electricity supply.

    If politicians in the south can allow for the operations of Socfin that has taken away the farm land from three chiefdoms, why would they oppose the building of a manufacturing plant that would not need more than 50 hectares of land?

    Sometimes you have to ask yourself some critical questions on rumours you hear before exposing your ignorance on how things work in the world.

    • Talking about electricity Mr Abu Paul Conteh? You don’t know what you are talking about. Nissan has the capacity to provide its own electricity if it wants to build/construct any assembly plant, anywhere in the world. You mentioned technical and IT skills. That is irrelevant and total nonsense. You have what is called training on the job. I hope you get that Mr Abu Paul Conteh.

      We have many Sierra Leonean graduates roaming our streets without Jobs. These groups of men and women already have the basics to train in the Robotics and Data processing of such plants. What is wrong with that? Does Ghana, Algeria or Nigeria have a better working force than Sierra Leone? People should not be in a negative and silly mode because they didn’t like the APC. The mystery behind the sabotage of Nissan BO rumour must be uncovered. If you want us to debate this issue Mr Abu Paul Conteh, bring it on.

      Finally, is it true that the SLPP and the PMDC are behind this sabotage? I hope I get answers before the next general elections campaign starts, to put my case to the people of BO District. Hear Mr Abu Paul Conteh lecturing me critical questions on rumours whilst at the same time trying to distract me from going to the bottom of the mystery behind Nissan BO. God help Mr Abu Paul Conteh and Nissan BO.

  4. This President enjoys wearing himself out on wild goose chases;it seems he also cherishes making underhanded deals with shady unscrupulous individuals and degenerate groups like Hezbollah that have been listed by the United States as a terrorist organization.Something smells really fishy;What has Sierra Leone to gain by becoming acquaintances and bosom friends with Terrorist mastermind Hassan Nasrallah?Its time for the opposition to become vigilant and watch every little move this President makes as if he was a minuscule specimen under a microscope;For who knows what felonious things he may be coerced into embracing just for a duffle bag full of dollars.(lol)

  5. Although president Bio’s visit to Lebanon is shrouded in secret, if he is there for medical reasons, I wish him a speedy recovery. Lebanon and Sierra Leone have a long history, both historically and people to people movements. The large Lebanese business community especially in Kono district, and other parts of the country has always played an active role in the economic activities of our country, for well over a century . Indeed rumours had it, after the Lebanese civil war, Beirut their capital was rebuilt mostly by diamonds from kono. For some reasons our history is also a mirror image of each other. Never has the history of two countries so different culturally, yet share the same historical and political upheavals.

    Lebanon experienced civil war from 1975 to 1990.As we all know our RUF civil war strated around that time, and ended in the early 2000s.Syria their giant neighbour invaded the country to stop the civil War. ECOMOG led by our giant neighbour Nigeria also came to our aid to end the brutal RUF wars. Lebanon is divided sectarianly, whilst Sierra Leone is divided in tribal lines and North and South divide. Although some Sierra Leonean apologists might argue otherwise, but we know those are the facts.The truth hurts.

    Lebanese politicians are one of the most corrupt people in the middle, hence the explosion that hits the country recently. You might as well be talking about our politicians. So if anything president Bio, is in good company in Lebanon. So he won’t look out of place in the most corrupt state in the middle east. Even the IMF has given up on them.

  6. Have opposition Leaders and members increased security arround their party headquarters and ensured precautionary security measures arround themselves? Don’t forget how violence erupts each time President Bio is out of the country. A word for a wise is quite sufficient. Was the Nissan Assembly Plant destined for Bo City, diverted to Ghana, because some unpatriotic and selfish politicians sabotaged it, not to allow the former APC Administration of former President Ernest Bai Koroma to take credit for it and win over the the hearts and minds of the people of Southern Sierra Leone? Ladies and Gentlemen read this article – https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Companies/Nissan-plans-new-Ghana-plant-to-double-Africa-production.
    This is an issue I will not let go until I get the facts because it bothers me. President Bio is off to Lebanon. I hope he helps Lebanon with reconstruction and helps convince the Japanese to reconsider their decision to build the Nissan Bo Model plant in Bo City if this information is true. I will follow this information until I get the facts. Have to. Finally, I pray that the President and his entourage return safely back home. God bless President Bio and his entourage.

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