Sierra Leone Telegraph: 16 July 2019:
Sierra Leone’s media – both news and social, are awash with rumours and innuendos. concerning the whereabout of president Julius Maada Bio, who has not been seen in public or heard from, for several days.
The president whose staff at State House are normally quick to issue a statement informing the public about the president’s itinerary – especially his travel plans, are this time however, keeping tight-lipped.
Despite several days of speculation about president Bio’s escapade, ranging from poor health which many say is failing, to the president taking what his supporters say is a well-earned holiday in a five-star hotel in London, State House remains quiet.
No one would begrudge the president of a holiday, which he deserves after twelve months of hard work, trying to reshape the economy as well as taking the fight to the country’s main opposition APC party in his battle to assert and consolidate his grip on power.
But what the opposition political parties and critics are pointing out about the president’s disappearance is that, by failing to make public, details of his whereabout, smacks of contempt for the people he governs.
“The people have a right to know about the plight of their president,” many Sierra Leoneans are saying today.
They also point out that when former president Koroma was in power, his media team at State House made it a habit of issuing statements about his travel plans, even when the former president was going abroad for healthcare – for which he frequently was lambasted and accused of health tourism.
Some supporters of president Bio are on the offensive, accusing the opposition of wishing ill-will on the president. But this has further fuelled speculations about the health of president Bio.
The editor of the Sierra Leone Telegraph – Abdul Rashid Thomas, yesterday contacted a senior official in the Bio government to find out about the whereabout of the president. Quite simply, he doesn’t know either.
Speaking under anonymity, he told the editor: “I don’t know where he is, but I think he is well, perhaps in London resting”.
A senior government minister – a close confidante of the president, told the editor in confidence, that: “the president has taken time out to sort out some family issues,” but did not say where, nor did he divulge any further details.
But if he is in London, what is the country’s High Commission saying about the president’s whereabout?
Last night, in a bid to quell speculations about the president’s health, the deputy High Commissioner in the UK, issued a statement saying: “President Julius Maada Bio is well and hearty. He is only relaxing and enjoying a little break from his very hectic schedule in London”.
But what the president’s schedule is, no one in his government is allowed to say, which does very little, if any, to put an end to what has become an unnecessary and mysterious cycle of speculations and rumours about the president’s health and whereabout.
“The president is very well and fit and there is nothing to worry about,” the High Commission in London said last night to allay fears and end speculation.