Sierra Leone Telegraph: 22 November 2018:
Following a spate of communal violence and what the opposition parties describe as politically motivated attacks against their supporters and strongholds, the president of Sierra Leone – Julius Maada Bio promised to establish a Commission for Peace and National Cohesion.
But that announcement was made several months ago, and many have been left wondering whether the president has reneged on his promise.
Since then also, there have been several allegations of human rights abuses against members of the main opposition All People’s Congress (APC) Party, especially after several of their members were relieved of their government posts.
These communal violence and sackings have created tension between the government and the opposition APC. So where is the proposed Commission for Peace and National Cohesion?
Today the office of the press secretary and presidential spokesman, issued this update:
“The general public would recall that on 10th May, 2018, His Excellency, President Julius Maada Bio, at the State Opening of the First Session of the Fifth Parliament of the Second Republic, announced the creation of an Independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion to be established by an Act of Parliament.
“The primary purpose for the formation of this commission will be to enhance national cohesion, strengthen peace consolidation and promote the President’s vision for inclusive governance. This is because, His Excellency the President strongly believes that developmental gains cannot be sustained in the absence of peaceful co-existence.
“With support from the UNDP – Sierra Leone, a Green Paper has been commissioned through the Office of the Chief Minister and is expected to be completed before the end of 2018. The Green Paper will look at the mandate, rationale and the governance structure of the Commission for Peace and National Cohesion.
“The completion of the Green Paper will be followed by a nation-wide consultation leading to a National Conference on Peace and national cohesion.
“The Green Paper and the recommendations of the proposed National Conference will serve as the basis for a white paper. The expectation is that the Commission will be in operation by June, 2019”.
But questions remain about the proposed Commissions of Enquiry into the affairs of former ministers and senior officials in the Koroma-led APC government.
Parliament last month discussed a Bill put forward by the government for the establishment of what is now known as the Corruption Commission of Enquiry.
But the opposition parties have tabled several amendments to the Bill, including the need to ensure that High Court rules of evidence apply.
The opposition are also calling for all senior officials including Permanent Secretaries serving in the former government – many of whom are now in the current administration, be included in the corruption investigation.
Critics of the SLPP government say that with so many commissions being proposed, the government could get itself into a muddle which could paralyse the smooth running of the country and cause chaos.