Sierra Leone Telegraph: 30 October 2017
President Koroma arrived in Brussels yesterday Sunday, 29th October 2017, after lavishly spending over $700,000 on a political campaign parade on Saturday in the capital Freetown.
The parade was organised by ruling APC party central office in violation of general election rules, which clearly state that until the National Electoral Commission blows the whistle for start of political campaigning, all such rallies are unlawful.
Announcing the date for general and presidential elections in February this year, president Koroma made it clear that campaigning must not be held before the NEC has given the go ahead. This is what he said:
“Fellow Sierra Leoneans, announcement of the dates for elections is not an announcement for the start of the campaign period. The commencement of the campaign period will be announced by NEC. When that time comes, we expect every party and every individual to follow the rules and regulations set forth by the appropriate authorities.”
Elections are due in less than five months in Sierra Leone, and the main political parties are already campaigning across the country.
But critics are accusing the ruling party of abusing its power of incumbency and state resources to mount political campaign, giving itself an unfair advantage in advance of those elections.
Saturday saw one of the country’s most popular cultural masquerades – ‘paddle’ and thousands of ruling APC party supporters dressed in red – party colour, dancing in the streets – watched by the president and his hand-picked successor to his throne – Samura Kamara, by his side.
The government said it has no money to look after mudslide victims. But where did it find $700,000 to stage a political parade on Saturday – money that could be used to pay for healthcare, education, provision of clean drinking water and vital food supply for the hungry?
In the wake of the massive mudslide disaster in the capital Freetown two months ago, over $5 million was collected from donors by the vice president. Not a single cent has been accounted for, despite thousands of survivors of the disaster struggling to survive.
Food, medicine, and shelter are in short supply, as questions are being asked about the $5 million collected by State House.
As president Koroma arrived in Brussels yesterday, there are rumours he is helping to find a buyer for Sierra Leone’s second largest diamond, found early this year by a local pastor who handed the diamond to the government to assist in finding a legitimate buyer.
The government of Sierra Leone had previously valued the diamond at $80 million, but the highest offer received so far is said to be about less than $10 million.
But latest report on the sale of the diamond is that the 709-carat gem will be auctioned in New York on December 4, 2017 by the Rapaport Group of companies, if no buyer is found in Belgium. President Koroma is said to be hoping that with his presence in Belgium this week, a buyer could be found.
According to State House report, president Koroma is in Brussels to attend high-level talks with officials of the African, Caribbean Pacific States (ACP). It is understood that the discussions will include good governance, sustainable development, peace, security and stability, and Sierra Leone’s preparedness for the elections in March 2018.
Also, president Koroma will hold talks with officials of the European Council (EC), who it is understood have expressed serious misgivings and concern about the president’s undemocratic imposition of his handpicked successor, after he leaves office next year.
Discussions with the EC will focus on democracy, good governance, human rights, political inclusion, and social and human development. It is expected that president Koroma will be asked to guarantee a level playing field for all political parties at next year’s elections, and to ensure that they are free and fair.
Before returning home on Wednesday, 1st November, president Koroma will meet Sierra Leoneans living in France, the Netherlands and Belgium in a town hall style meeting to be held in Brussels.
I have been posting in this forum under the name James K. Mann. I have just realized that another contributor is now using that name. I will therefore desist from using the James K. Mann name in future.
Ernest Bai Koroma will go down in history as the most corrupt, divisive and inept president Sierra Leoneans have ever known. Unlike his predecessor Ahmed Tejan Kabba, who left power unceremoniously, Ernest Bai Koroma, has guaranteed that he would continue to wield power after his tenure as president has ended, by making himself “APC Chairman for life” and by using subterfuge to select the APC flag bearer and his running mate.
The summoning of the paramount chiefs from the stronghold of the SLPP recently to beg for their unflinching support and the paddle parade to create the impression that people are in favor of his appointees are all in line with this objective.
What is unnerving to me is the silence that has greeted these appointments by many in the APC party who are adversely affected by this decision.
It is either, the APC party is truly a communist party where dissension is not tolerated, or it might be that his comrades are too afraid to call him out on his undemocratic and unbridled use of power.
But what is certain is that majority of the people in Sierra Leone are now wise to the ways of this useless government. As a friend noted, “we may come out and dance but that does not translate in any ways our love and affection for a government that has turned us into baggers” He went on to quote the erudite musician Bob Marley. “You can fool some people sometimes but you can’t fool all the people all the time”
The people of Sierra Leone know that all the missing Ebola and Mudslide monies spent on the ostentatious life style of the President and his ministers and all the expenses incurred from shipping custom made chairs from china for the APC convention, and the $700,000 spent to stage a political parade on Saturday should have been spent on improving health care, the renovation of Connaught Hospital and Fourah bay college, or the provision of clean drinking water for the many homes in Freetown that struggle on a daily basis to get clean water.
It is my hope that this knowledge will be imprinted on the minds of the people when they go out in March to repay this uncaring APC government by voting them out of power.
The president is on his last journey to swallow all of the wealth meant for the little sad fatherless children of sierra Leone. Sad for Sierra Leone, but very excellent for his excellency Ernest Koroma.
Anybody who believes that Ernest Koroma will preside over free and fair elections in Sierra Leone next year must be living in a dreamland. With a bickering and disunited opposition, Koroma has found an excellent atmosphere to perpetuate himself in power through Samura Kamara the puppet.
The shameless exploitation of Paddle, an organization that is supposed to be apolitical is just one of the many intimidating tactics at the disposal of the APC. If the SLPP, the ADP, the NGC and the PMDC cannot ignore their differences and form a united front to defeat the APC next year, I see Samura Kamara winning the presidency and Ernest Koroma ruling by remote control.
Our president is into lavishing funds necessary for the development of the country. That money could have been used to train more nurses, instead of relying on expatriate for everything in the country. I am sure the next president will be highly active in developing the country and not his pocket.
It is difficult to believe that the President thinks the best way to introduce his two clowns he handpicked in Makeni is through the devil. Probably Samura Kamara and Chernor Bah have no clue that this President will even have the audacity to drag a born and raised Fullah to pay homage to the devil.
Growing up in Sierra Leone, we have always admired the Fullah people for their entrepreneurial spirit, faithfulness to Islam and total loyalty to their roots in Futa Jalloh. I personally believe President Koroma is bent on following the foot steps of his role model (late President Stevens by trying to make Chernor Bah the new AGBA SATANI and will be used to do his dirty work as late S.I Koroma did .
My only advice for Chernor Bah is to desist from any violence and intimidation in Freetown or the whole nation during the upcoming election; and the Fullah community should not be used to bank roll or fund the APC government in order to steal the election.
Will the president be passing through London?