Chairman and Leader of the main opposition APC party, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma who was the former President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, has advised His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio to do all he can to manage ethnic tensions in the country. The former president made the advise inside the May 2018 Handing-Over notes; Those notes are now serving as the indomitable benchmark for reference points on how the former president successfully led Sierra Leone for ten years from a post-war, shattered and divided country into becoming the most peaceful country in entire West Africa.
At the time the former president Dr. Ernest Koroma handed over to the current Bio-led regime, Sierra Leone was ranked worldwide as one of the bastions of peace, stability and democracy around the world. Sierra Leone was ranked even more peaceful than United States of America with its people living in peaceful co-existence with one another.
The Handing Over Notes of Koroma to Bio, sought to counsel and guide Bio as to how to keep Sierra Leone at peace. Prolifically writing on Pages 6, 7 and 8, Former President Koroma addressed H.E. Bio on a myriad of issues around unifying the country and keeping it at peace.
For example, the former president, Dr. Koroma stated that whilst it is true that tribal and regional tensions always flare up during political processes but after elections ended, he advised that “it is helpful to accept that the tribal undercurrent in our body politic requires deliberate and consistent affirmative action and policies to hold the country in peace and harmony”.
Koroma said he took deliberate actions so that the country was free of ethnic tensions. He said this was his style of inclusive governance so that social and political fabric of the country could be woven in harmony.
He cited of how, during his governance tenure, citizens perceived to be supporters of the opposition parties, were occupying key positions in the Civil and Public Service.
“I resisted tremendous pressures for me to remove from key positions in the Civil and Public Service certain citizens perceived to be supporters of your now ruling SLPP party,” Koroma said, adding that even at the Office of the President, perceived sympathizers of the SLPP party, which was then in opposition were allowed to be part of the APC governance team.
Writing further, Koroma went on to say that his former government ensured civil liberties and democratic freedoms were enjoyed by all Sierra Leoneans irrespective of political, ethnic and/or regional divide.
Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma narrated of how very loudly vocal members of the then opposition SLPP would make weekly video broadcasts and such utterances were full of horrendous, seditious and libelous attacks directed at him and his former APC government which had not an iota of truth but got spread through social media. The political giant explained of how character assassination of himself his government caused concerned citizens to demand for criminal defamation charges to be filed against members of SLPP “as the evidence against their libelous and seditious activities were so overwhelming”.
Koroma said some told him that with such evidence, he could silence the SLPP but he said he resisted that because he believed in multi-party democracy and the rights of members of democratic opposition to freely criticize the ruling government.
Koroma said SLPP members had “the right to express themselves no matter how wrong their opinions were”. Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma said that the SLPP supporters’ utterances were not a threat to his life so he let them be, even as they spread terrible lies against his person and his Government.
Former President Koroma said that in spite of the shortcomings and clearly criminal conduct of members of SLPP opposition party back then, his Government encouraged the Opposition to criticize him freely and also encouraged a very free press and a vibrant civil society because he believed it is fundamental in promoting transparency and accountability. All of this he pointed out was how he deepened peace, good governance and democracy and stability inside Sierra Leone over a period of ten years.
“Our collective challenge under your Excellency’s leadership, is to assert special efforts to continue to build on the above state of affairs of our peace, democracy, freedoms, rights, the rule of law and national unity which you have inherited,” was how the former national leader ended his counsel to H.E. Bio on matters of peace, stability, democracy, freedoms, human rights, unity, justice, amongst others.