Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 12 June 2023:
I belong to Sierra Leone and Liberia. Both are my countries, and I held their citizenship , though I am now a U.S. citizen . Therefore, anything that would hurt either of them is of primary and dire concern to me.
Chaos is threatening to engulf Sierra Leone once again. Political tension has escalated beyond control in Sierra Leone and the EARLY WARNING SIGNS mechanism set up by the UN definitely point to troubling times in the horizon for Sierra Leone.
If the present impasse between the citizens of Sierra Leone and the country’s Elections Commission over the bogus voter registration process and fake voters ID cards , for which massive demonstrations have been scheduled , is not resolved amicably, Sierra Leone is going to be seriously destabilized. It will even get worse if President Maada Bio turns deaf ears to the cries of the Sierra Leonean people and goes on to conduct the election under these untenable circumstances and wins it controversially.
A second term for President Bio culminating from a rigged presidential election will undermine peace and stability in Sierra Leone and the subregion. Sierra Leoneans are very angry. Their anger must not be underestimated.
Sierra Leone has been tragically divided along partisan and ethno-regional lines since President Bio came to power in 2018 and Sierra Leoneans who see themselves as sidelined and marginalized are incensed . The country is teetering on the edge of chaos .
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the U.S. States Department have all exposed grave and egregious human rights abuses , extrajudicial and politically motivated killings perpetrated by the Maada Bio government, in addition to this much- loathed pattern of tribal and regional exclusion and intolerance by the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) Government that have put the country on the edge of another angry explosion of passions.
If Sierra Leone explodes into another chaos, even if it is not a civil war of the scale we saw in the 1990s, it will affect neighbouring countries, especially Liberia, a country that has been very kind to host refugees and displaced persons from Sierra Leone during troubled times in the past.
Liberia will definitely find her already meagre resources overstretched , overburdened and taxed by another heavy flow of refugees and displaced persons fleeing any conflagration in Sierra Leone. Given the economic shocks and aberrations engendered by the Ebola and COVID-19 pandemics, the present Russia-Ukraine war and Liberia’s own internal problems, the Lone Star country might not be in any fitting economic frame to handle any humanitarian crisis from a neighbouring nation.
There is also always the perennial problem of spillage of chaos from one unstable African country into another as it happened in the Mano River axis in the 1990s when the Charles Taylor NPFL war spilled over into Sierra Leone through the Revolutionary United Front ( RUF ) that went on to affect even Guinea and the Ivory Coast.
In Africa, when one nation sneezes, the neighbouring countries catch the cold. We must not forget that the subregion is very unstable, having been s flashpoint of civil wars that killed thousands and left a colony of amputated people.
President George Weah should therefore be very concerned about the chaos brewing in Sierra Leone. He cannot go to sleep soundly while war drums are being beaten in a neighbouring country, especially Sierra Leone. The SLPP is downplaying the encroaching confusion, but we all know that the Liberian crisis started in similar fashion and it grew wings along the way and raged on to consume Sierra Leone.
President Weah should get worried and begin helping efforts to alert the international community, international stakeholders and international moral guarantors of peace and stability to make a meaningful intervention in Sierra Leone to nip the encroaching chaos in the bud. He must also talk personally to his friend and brother President Maada Bio to listen to the cries of the Sierra Leonean people.
Bio thinks he can swagger his way out of the conundrum, but we all know from history that no leader has ever done that and prevailed , especially in this day and age of social media.
President Weah, with the wealth of experience he has gained in power, needs nobody to tell him that the international community have a tendency to stall, procrastinate and turn blind eyes to early warning signs of trouble in Africa, They did it to Liberia, Sierra Leone, DR Congo, Somalia, Eritrea , Ivory Coast , Sudan and of course Rwanda, where the consequences were most deadly and horrific. They always intervene when it is too late.
President Weah must graciously use his profound influence on the international scene to help draw international attention , intervention and positive action to end the building political upheaval in Sierra Leone now before it is too late. A stitch in time , the cliche goes, saves nine.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu was a Curriculum Specialist at the Ministry of Education, Liberia and English teacher at the Monrovia Central High School from 1978 to 1985, an instructor of Educational Psychology at the Kakata Rural Teachers Training Institute ( KRTTI) and the Ministry of Education/ University of Liberia World-Bank Sponsored In-Service Teachers Training Program from 1985-1990.
He was Sierra Leone’s Minister Plenipotentiary to the UN and Coordinator of the African Union Committee of 10 ( C-10) on the UN Security Council Reform Negotiations from 2008 to 2018. He is presently employed as an international elections observer by the Washington DC-based Women in Monitoring and Auditing Elections Globally. He is also the publisher and Editor-In-Chief of the widely-read Sierra Leone internet newsmagazine, COCORIOKO.