Sierra Leone’s Inter-Religious Council must intervene to end political tension in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 4 June 2019:

Sierra Leone’s Inter-Religious Council must intervene to find solutions that will end the ongoing political tension and impasse among political parties in Sierra Leone, especially between the ruling SLPP and the main opposition APC.

Last Friday’s violence at the offices of the APC is symptomatic of the scale of distrust that has developed in the past few decades, which is now threatening the peace and stability of the nation.

While it may seem politically expedient to simply ignore the troubled and poisoned political atmosphere in the country, one cannot ignore the impact this is having on the country’s economy and social well-being.

In just under two days, potential foreign investors will gather in London to hear from president Bio and his ministers about the investment potential Sierra Leone has to offer. And this all too important conference comes amid deep political tension and violence witnessed last Friday in the country’s capital.

The UK Foreign Office has issued this security warning to its citizens travelling to or already in Sierra Leone:  “Following a recent increase in political tensions, you should take care to avoid large crowds and all political demonstrations . If you travel outside the Freetown peninsula, try to complete your travel during the hours of daylight, inform your employers of your whereabouts and make sure they have copies of your itinerary. Terrorist attacks in Sierra Leone can’t be ruled out. Attacks could be indiscriminate. You should be vigilant, especially in places visited by foreigners.”

Although similar warnings were issued on many ocassions during Ernest Bai Koroma’s presidency, it does the Bio-led SLPP government no credit or favours, just a couple of days before its Trade and Investment Conference in London.

And it doesn’t seem as though there is light at the end of the tunnel for peaceful co-existence between the government and the main opposition APC.

Someone needs to grab the bull by its horns and help broker peace between the two and across all of the political parties, so that Sierra Leone can put forward a unified and cohesive front in facing up to the huge economic and social challenges the country faces.

The international partners in Sierra Leone have today also issued  a joint statement, calling for dialogue to end the political tension.  This is what they say:

The Sierra Leone Telegraph is therefore calling upon the Inter Religious Council (IRC) of Sierra Leone to take on this peace mission as custodian and guarantor of the nation’s moral conscience.  In carrying out this task, the IRC should do the following:

  1. Conduct an inquiry into the violence that took place at the APC office in Freetown.
  2. Present its findings and recommendations to the government, the police, the APC as well as all other political parties, the National Electoral Commission, the Political Parties Registration Commission and international stakeholders.
  3. Convene a peace and reconciliation summit involving all political parties and the government, with the international community stakeholders in attendance.
  4. Produce a Peace and Reconciliation Agreement to be signed by the president, the chairman of the APC and leaders of all other political parties, as well as the IRC as witness to the signing.
  5. Publish the  Peace and Reconciliation Agreement.
  6. Produce and implement a Plan for the continuous monitoring and evaluation of compliance of the Peace and Reconciliation Agreement.
  7. Organise regular Roundtable public discussions (TV and Radio) involving all political parties.

What is encouraging is that the Inter Religious Council of Sierra Leone, has published a statement expressing its position and concerns over the deteriorating political tension in the country. This is what it says:

“The Inter-Religious Council of Sierra Leone (IRCSL) is very concerned about the current political tensions in the country after the Bintumani III conference.  This political tension continues to escalate with the tendency to create social unrest and undermines the peace and stability in the country.

The IRCSL condemns any action by political parties and individuals to insight and create chaos thereby undermining our hard won peace and stability through violence, hate speech and other malicious actions promoting disunity and division among Sierra Leoneans.

The IRCSL is therefore calling on all political parties and their supporters to respect the rule of law and desist from any form of violence, hate speech and malicious actions that has the potential to throw the country into chaos and instability.

We call on the government to take responsibility to peacefully resolve or address the ongoing political tensions and conflict in the country to enhance peaceful co-existence irrespective of tribe, region or political party.
We call on the security forces especially the Police to carry out their mandate of protecting lives and property with professionalism and respect for the rights of all citizens.

The IRCSL as “Moral Guarantor” of the peace of the country is putting modalities in place  to work with other stakeholders  to initiate a peaceful dialogue between the two giant parties – the ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Parry (SLPP) and the All Peoples Congress (APC) within the shortest possible time.

Meanwhile, we call on all Sierra Leoneans to remain calm, maintain the peace and respect the rule of law.  Remember that we only have one Sierra Leone and we all are Sierra Leoneans.

We call on all Churches and Mosques to continue praying for peace and stability in our country and to preach peace during our sermons to shape the moral life of our congregants and jamats for a peaceful Sierra Leone.” (End of statement).

The Sierra Leone Telegraph would seriously and urgently encourage the IRC to embrace the above proposal.

15 Comments

  1. Anthony, your last paragraph really tells your real self. You speak like a true Sierra Leonean.
    Let me take the opportunity to tell you that EBK’s Chairmanship for life has nothing to do with any other political party. Let the SLPP truly say they want to permanently silence and dismantle APC.

    Should EBK retire from being the Chairman and leader of the APC, SLPP will easily use that opportunity to strike EBK down, and distabilise APC. And if they succeed in distabilising APC, they will easily overpower the smaller parties and prolong their stay in power. So SLPP’s stumbling block to their plot is EBK’s Chairmanship for life position, which he can use to check SLPP’s negative plans for this nation.

    • Anthony and Simon, I respect your views on the idea about former President Ernest Koroma hanging on to the APC LEADERSHIP. I get the LOGIC. The question is, HOW DEMOCRATIC ARE OUR POLITICAL PARTIES?

      Until our POLITICAL PARTIES become DEMOCRATIC, we will continue to have these unfortunate situations. Bottom line, our political parties are not democratic. They always have those controversial ARTICLES and CLAUSES in their constitutions, which their leaders use to do anything they like.

      As long as the APC say former President Ernest Koroma is fine with them, what can one do?

  2. I do not really know where the problem lies in our country on religion. Is it poverty or fear? Conventional religious leaders some times respond to our problem with favouritism. Unless they try to be neutral, to achieve peace in that country, could be possible but very very difficult.

    Now we the ordinary citizens, one can support one main political party, but when it comes to national issues we are supposed to work as a nation, but to be frank it is not so in our country. During the ten years of APC rule, I as a registered member of the party, was opposing them on many issues which could have been a correction for them. I received curses and molestation from people on Facebook, but today see where the APC is – “in opposition”. Had they listened to some of us the party would have still been in governance today.

    For the SLPP , when they do good things I praise them but for any mistake I keep quiet. Even within a political party there is enmity between members. Some that are working with a president can be enemies to that president for one reason or the other. Let us work for peace for a better nation. I thank you.

  3. Bio is not someone that has respect for his rivals. The oneness you are calling for, will never be achieved. Do not waste your time to make your suggestions to Inter- religious bodies. The rain will take away what the vulture brought. The challenge the SLPP had been throwing, has reached its climax.

    Every civilized SIerra Leonean knows very well that the APC was the winner of the 2018 general and presidential elections, but we swallowed the bitter pill and handed the baton peacefully in the name of peace to test the SLPP party if it is accredited with responsibility like the APC. It happened due to the forceful intervention of our Colonial masters and the Commonwealth Office.

    The SLPP in the likes of David Francis and others convincingly persuaded the above mentioned institutions that the country was being governed by northerners after the Margai family; that the country was governed by one particular region and those institutions poured money in and asked all election observers to work in the interest of their needs and make sure that victory is handed over to SLPP with truant Bio as it’s flagbearer.

    It was painful for the APC but with total respect to our colonial masters, we decided to let bygones be bygones. There is a lot to vent out but I deemed it not necessary any longer. The only solution now, is to fight fiercely for supremacy. We are preparing ourselves to take on the SLPP and the security apparatus it is using to provoke us. A toad does not run out during the day time for nothing. The SLPP is manifesting its picture in broad daylight for everyone to understand what it is up to.

    • Mr. Achmed Gadict Keen Kaye, did I understand you properly, that you have total respect for your former colonial masters but none for your country or President? And that you are ready to fight a war because the present government is not doing the things you want them to do?

      And after the war is over with a lot of lives lost, Sierra Leone brought back to the stone age, you and your “victorious STRONG MEN” will be ready to crawl back to our colonial masters and the EU asking for help?

      What is your perception of politics and in whose name are you making such statements?? With such mentality Africa and our tiny country in particular will always be where we are, at the bottom of human development!!

  4. The level of disrespect that has been shown towards President Maada Bio and his administration is unprecedented in our history. The last time I checked, the people of Sierra Leone elected only one person through the direction of the Almighty and I personally believe that all we need to do as a nation especially during the Ramadan, is continue to pray for him for more wisdom and understanding so he can continue to make the right decisions that will benefit our country within the 5 years that was mandated to him.

    Now everyone thinks they are smarter and wiser than our president even though some of our names were not on the ballot boxes. Peace talks or decision about war should be the responsibility of only the president and his executives and if he needs more authority must consult the legislatures. The government has already taken the initiative through the office of the political affairs ministry, under the leadership of Ambassador Foday Yumkella who has already risen up to the occasion. So let everybody just calm down and allow the processes and procedures to work.

    Our First Lady who is the current mother of our nation has already prayed for our nation during Ramadan and I personally believe that God have already answered her prayers, and even when some of the destructive people have finally come out in the open by creating distractions, she and the president were busy feeding the deprived people within our nation.

    My advice to our imams this year, is to make sure that the former flag bearer of the APC ( Dr. Samura Kamara) who is a renowned catholic should be prevented from using the Mimber (Pulpit) which should be used by only Imams to deliver his divisive political message.

    • With all due respect to religion and its role in fostering the moral health in the country, I do not think they should be called upon to dictate what the government should or should not do in situations like the one we have now. They can play reconciliatory roles by all means.

      We have been here before and they have dictated or taken sides, preached politics and even actively been involved in political activities. I strongly believe this is part of our problem and not the solution. We mix our religious and political roles too much.

      Whilst I believe religion is important in the health, wellbeing and stability of a country, governments and their partners are the custodians of the running of the state, including ensuring freedom of worship. But religion over the years has done very little to bring us together as a people in a very small country.

      They were there when over 11 years, we killed and mamed each other in the name of politics. They were there when we had a shambolic truth and reconciliation, mostly dictated by the international world as they were funding it. Whether we really healed after that unnecessary carnage, has in my opinion not overtly been the concern of our religious council.

      They are too busy getting involved in who they back, or not during elections based on their tribe and sections. We have not given any attention to why that war took place in the first place. In my opinion, it was as it is now about poverty, neglect, lack of job opportunities for our working population, people struggling daily for their basic needs from Krubola to Sulima, Koidu to Loko Masama down to Freetown about the same basic things.

      All governments over the years, have just been around the leaders and their immediate party members and relatives. Meanwhile the religious people have prayed a loooootttt. The council have not stepped back from playing politics.

      We as a nation, are seeing all these intense emotions manifesting in violent errutions, because the young people are mostly unemployed and depend on handouts from the politicians to do their dirty work. These young people, I do not care about their tribe or section of the country, have little or no other options open to them but carry out the activities the politicians would never think of their own children doing.

      I believe the religious council should be behind closed doors bearing on governments of any colour to concentrate on taking the country forward from the doldrums to development that carries everyone along. Not laying the rules like they are doing now. It is of no use when they have not tried to foster or help in dealing with the causes of our divisions in such a small country.

      I believe that that function should be left to the national and regional political institutions as the case may be.
      It is like burying your dead in haste and later pondering why their legs are being exposed after a heavy downpour.

  5. Its funny, is it not, how outsiders who have no connections with the APC keep on wasting their precious time tirelessly catapulting ideas and suggestions at us, that will ways be completely ignored? The APC has lots of brilliant minds that can put their heads together and solve its pressing internal problems.

    The way towards peace in our beloved Country will always be dark until we begin to show mutual respect towards each other…Assuming power in democracy doesn’t mean you are now wielding a sceptre and wearing a crown like King forever; neither does it give you the right to harass and intimidate a section of the society that doesn’t share your views.

    People will always be different – fire and ice will always remain what they are. The die has already been cast – Koroma is already our leader for life….so cry yourselves a river, kick up as much dust as you want; throw endless fits and tantrums – It will be all to no avail….Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

  6. This is a good proposal. However, I don’t see the APC abiding by any peace initiative with the Commissions of Inquiry hounding its members. This is the issue behind all the lawlessness that the APC has been involved in. The Commissions of Inquiry are giving Ernest Koroma and his lieutenants sleepless nights. They never expected president Julius Bio to establish a Commission of Inquiry. They feel blindsighted.

    • Hawa, do you know exactly what you are saying? Are you really mature enough to asscess the dangers Bio has already plunged our beloved mama SaLone into? By the way, are you a true daughter of Sierra Leone? I am a die-hearted APC son and yet i welcomed the idea of a Commission of Inquiry on how my party administrered the country.

      It is the right thing for an incoming government to check the adminitrative occourences of the outgoing government without prejudice, intimidation, malice, and forethoughts. The ongoing situation in my country will leave no stone unturned but a payback syndrome. Are you aware of the innocent lives the SLPP has wiped off for no just course? Are you aware of the visible division of the country? The sackings of experienced personnel and replacing them with inexperience south-easterners?

      Maybe you are using this opportunity to put a little bit of smile on your face that you made a comment contribution on social media. Let me remind you that Bio and the rest of his SLPP cohorts will never go, I repeat never go scot-free for the recent human rights violations. Time is fast approaching. Lonta!

  7. The political tension in Sierra Leone today can only calm down if Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma steps down as ‘Chairman for Life’ of his Party the APC. We can call all the Imans and Pastors in the country but if EBK holds on to power in his Party, there will be NO PEACE.

    APC needs a fresh beginning with progressive-minded people. EBK’s quest for power is all too well known and I’m calling on the progressives in his Party to come up and rescue their Party and the NATION.

    Remember the following:
    – The More Time debate during EBK’s presidency
    – The attack and brutal removal of Sam Sumana as Vice President
    – His personal selection of Dr. Samura Kamara as presidential candidate in the last election
    – Being crowned ‘Chairman for Life’ in his Party

    All these are indications of a man on a mission to dominate Sierra Leonean politics. EBK never thought that his Party was going to lose the last presidential election and his anger about that defeat is what we are experiencing today.

    My advice to Bio’s government is for them to go strictly by the constitution and let the RULE OF LAW be their guideline. Refrain from TIT FOR TAT and if possible let the President invite EBK to a ONE TO ONE meeting and of course with an open ended outcome.

  8. Does it mean that the recent BINTUMANI THREE did not yield any FRUIT? When you go against the advice of people like Dr. Sama Banya, this is the result you get. DISCUSS. Let me make it clear again as I have always done: A POLITICAL DIALOGUE is a must before we can achieve any meaningful resolution to this IMPASSE.

    The problems that have brought us to this point are many and just keep growing. The way forward is not impossible, but will take a lot of tweaking I believe. However, the call for our RELIGIOUS LEADERS to intervene is a very good idea. Finally, we hope the IRCSL will mediate and adopt the proposals outlined by THE SIERRA LEONE TELEGRAPH. We also hope that all the stakeholders involved will cooperate.

    • Brother, I do nott think this so-called political dialogue really makes any sense if only the right things are being done here. What we really need in Sierra Leone is this:

      -Tell the APC party that they are no longer in governance -the SLPP is. And APC should act and support the president’s agenda accordingly, since it is for the good of the country. No dialogue is needed for this.
      -That the issue of corruption must be handled correctly and rightly. No dialogue either for this.
      -That everything the current government does, should be done in accordance with the constitution of the land. Dialogue u say for this? NO!
      -That the new direction should be strictly new, not old or be seen as tit for tat direction.
      -The new direction should set the good road map for succeeding governments to follow through. The SLPP should bear in mind that the reason the people chose them over APC, is for them to set the record straight; not to keep counting on the wrongs of the past APC government. Therefore,the SLPP administration should act right; not doing the wrong things/mistakes the APC had done.
      -That every Sierra Leonean under this new administration should be treated equally and accordingly.

      If all of these mentioned above had been done, we all could not have had B3 or talked about calling on IRCSL to intervene neither talk about dialogue nor tit for tat thing. Also, there could have been no way for all of these sideshow analysis we all are doing and the president’s new direction would be applauded by now not the other way round…

      And finally, Iam appealing to all SLPP pundits – please stop the beating of a dead horse over the APC party chairmanship. That should not be your utmost concern. Pundits should bring in new ways and strategies to help the Bio government to achieve success, so that at the end of the day, you all would have something to present to the SL people in requesting for another 5yrs.

      Dont waste your time in counting the wrongs the previous government had done. Because the Sierra Leonean people gave you an assignment to do and also to make corrections and turn things in better way round.T he APC party just like any other party has rules and regulations and those regulations should only be followed by its party members.

      Their rules and regulations is not mandatory for all Sierra Leoneans. The constitution of Sierra Leone is the only mandatory regulation that is bound by all Sierra Leoneans to follow. This idea of some SLPP pundits calling on the resignation of Ernest koroma as a party chairman before you guys (SLPP) can map out a good strategy for the betterment of the country is really a misguided proposition and totally nonsensical.

      Guys let us all ask the current government to do the right thing. All other things will follow suit. Just do it the right way and see if the APC will refuse reality…if they refuse, then that will be another reality to ponder on and the constitution law to take its course.

      But if the current administration is not doing the right thing that is expected of them, honestly it would be difficult for any pundit to defend them.

  9. The Inter Religious Council is part of the problem, they have been silent for too long; they have been complicit in the perpetuation of bad governance and constitutional abuse. The members of the IRC have been more interested in personal gain from politicians than saving the sanity of our nation.

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