Sierra Leone Telegraph: 11 April 2015
There have been calls by a handful of opposition supporters for nationwide protests, following the appointment of Ambassador Victor Bockarie Foh as Vice President of Sierra Leone, after the sacking of the former vice president by president Ernest Bai Koroma.
They seem to be also dictating what should be the outcome of the Supreme Court proceedings.
Without any attempt to prejudice the Supreme Court proceedings, it would rather appear extremely disingenuous, deceitful and politically ill motivated, on the part of the opposition to seek to use this issue as a camouflage in their bid to gain behind-the-curtain attention.
My reason: Any reasonable group or organization, would rather advocate for patience and respect for the rule of law, than seeking to resort to public protest and demonstration, more so, as the matter is now in court.
Only the Supreme Court has the jurisdiction to give a clear interpretation on the legality or otherwise, of the decision taken by the president, based on the country’s 1991 Constitution.
It is practically unimaginable that opposition pundits are expecting a ruling in their favour, forgetting that the law will be interpreted differently from the way the layman sees.
The president and government were elected by the people through the ballot box, and not through the jungle of political warfare. (Photo: John Baimba Sesay).
Only when a clear understanding of Section 124 of the 1991 Sierra Leone Constitution is sought, would those clamouring for the use of protest as a means of seeking an interpretation, know that Sierra Leone is governed by laws and not by sticks and stones, or jungle warfare.
For ease of reference, Section 124 of the 1991 Multiparty Constitution states that:
“The Supreme Court shall, save as otherwise provided in section 122 of this Constitution, have original jurisdiction, to the exclusion of all other Courts – a. in all matters relating to the enforcement or interpretation of any provision of this Constitution; and b. where any question arises whether an enactment was made in excess of the power conferred upon Parliament or any other authority or person by law or under this Constitution.”
It is therefore advisable that the opposition make use of the judiciary, and allow the law to take its course, than literally imposing their expected outcome on people.
That said, Ambassador Victor Bockarie Foh’s appointment as vice president of the country means a lot for the country’s development efforts, especially in our quest for a better Sierra Leone. He will certainly help in bringing more support to the presidency, and play a lead role in wooing more investment opportunities for Sierra Leone.
During his two years as Ambassador to China, with accreditation to several other countries in the Southeast Asia Pacific, Ambassador Victor Bockarie Foh succeeded in not only opening more doors of bilateral ties, but also in lifting the bars of cooperation ties between his country and China, as well as with those countries where he was accredited.
No doubt, China remains a strategic partner of the African continent. This has been the case since and even before the formation of the Forum on China Africa Cooperation in 2010.
In fact, during the 2012 Fifth Ministerial Meeting of FOCAC held in Beijing, the then President Hu Jintao highlighted a five point action plan for cooperation between China and Africa, which included opening up new prospects in building a new type of China-Africa strategic partnership; opening up new prospects for the new type of China-Africa strategic partnership, in terms of working towards strengthening the political mutual trust between China and Africa; working towards expanding practical cooperation between China and Africa, increasing cultural and people-to-people exchanges, increasing coordination and cooperation in international affairs and working towards making FOCAC stronger.
And in pursuing the Sino-Africa relations, investment institutions like China-Africa Development Fund (CAD Fund) and Export-Import Bank (EXIM Bank) are key.
EXIM Bank is the world’s third largest export credit agency, with a mandate to “implement state policies in industry, foreign trade and economy, finance and foreign affairs”.
The vast majority of infrastructure financing arrangements done by China in the African continent are financed through the China EXIM Bank. The Bank has financed over 300 projects in Africa, with infrastructure, being the core of its undertakings.
CAD Fund was established in 2006 as the first equity investment fund in the country. Its primary focus is investment in Africa. It has an aim of enhancing China-Africa economic cooperation and promotes Africa’s development through direct investment.
In Sierra Leone, China continues to play a crucial role in her development agenda. Ambassador Foh succeeded in pushing these relations during his tenure as Ambassador.
There is a lot that could be offered by China when it comes to development, especially in line with infrastructure.
We are talking about a new airport, which, as it is well known, is being funded by the Chinese.
At present, there are a number of ongoing or completed Chinese supported projects in Sierra Leone; the Regent-Grafton road (completed); the multi-million dollar new airport project on the mainland (to soon start); Rice and rubber project; and Charlotte hydro dam project, coupled with the China Friendship Teaching and Referral Hospital (completed) and the new Foreign Affairs Ministry building (completed) which were all commissioned in 2012.
With Ebola virtually coming to an end, we definitely will have to focus our attention to meeting those components of development trajectory as contained in the Agenda for Prosperity. President Koroma and Vice President Foh could definitely succeed in their desires for a better Sierra Leone.
Vice president Foh will definitely make use of all the influence he has had in Asia; from his personal contacts with the EXIM Bank to FOCAC; and other Chinese development institutions in the PR China, to those in countries like Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam – all for the betterment of Sierra Leone.
In fact, one begins to wonder whether the opposition is really calling for protest against the decision of the president, or against the palpable development prospect of our mother land – Sierra Leone.
If it is genuinely a protest against the decision of the president, then some of our legal fellows advising the opposition should go back for legal training in rules of legal interpretation.
They will not tell you it is for the latter, but why won’t you open your eyes to see the sun.