The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 8 March 2014
It seems this week’s visit of UN’s Ban Ki Moon to Sierra Leone has opened a new political row, which the World Bank itself cannot resist getting embroiled in, as government and ruling party media attack journalists and critics of the Koroma government for its poor governance and corruption.
Ban Ki Moon’s presence in Freetown, has once again cast a spotlight on the country’s post-war political and economic development.
And like all spotlights, you get to see everything – the good, the bad and the not so pretty, which the government of president Koroma though, is painting as excellent stewardship.
But the government is being accused by critics, the opposition SLPP and the media, of lying about its performance in office – especially the state of the economy and poverty.
In such highly charged political atmosphere, few would expect the country’s World Bank office to take sides, let alone become a propaganda vehicle for the government.
John Baimba Sesay
The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 7 March 2014
After years of civil wars, huge economic challenges and the impact of structural adjustments, many West African countries are in desperate need of development strategies that could transform their economies.
West African nations are therefore looking primarily at the role regional integration and cooperation can play in revitalizing and redirecting the development process.
Africa has the potential to achieve fast and sustainable economic growth. For instance, within the framework of the Mano River Union – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone can respectively accelerate their economic development, through an effective management of their natural resources, gas and petroleum reserves.
But given the synergies that exist among those three neighboring nations, a collective approach to development is necessary and would be advantageous.
The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 5 March 2014
Sierra Leone’s democracy is coming of age, but there are teething problems, causing nervousness for those that have underwritten much of the financial and material loss suffered – including the UN, after ten years of brutal civil war.
The visit of the UN’s chief – Ban Ki Moon to Sierra Leone this week, brings into sharp focus the economic and political progress that have been achieved by successive governments since the end of the war in 2001.
But with a parliament overwhelmingly dominated by the ruling APC party, whose compulsive instinct for surreptitiously clipping the wings of the opposition at will, political temperature is on the increase.
Journalists are being arrested and incarcerated by a government that is fast turning its back away from civil liberty, justice and human rights.
The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 1 March 2014
A week ago, another deadly terrorist attack – fuelled by religious hatred, was launched by Boko Haram at a boarding school in Northern Nigeria, killing 59 young people.
And as the world helplessly watches Boko Haram’s deadly assault becoming more audacious, questions are being asked around the world about the ability and conviction of the Nigerian government in stemming the group’s activities.
Boko Haram may not have the organisational capacity and resources to spread its dangerous tentacles across the West African region – at least not yet, but with each attack in Northern Nigeria, their confidence and potential to destabilise the whole country is growing fast.
And with the situation in the Central African Republic spinning out of control as extremist Muslim and Christian rebels go on the offensive, a dark shadow of gloom may soon begin to spread across the sub-region.
Mohamed Kunowah Kiellow
The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 28 February 2014
There are suspicions that sections of the ruling APC party are egging the president on, to tamper with the country’s constitution, so as to see him through a third term in office.
And for many in Sierra Leone, such manipulation of the constitution will certainly be regarded as nothing other than the president overstaying his welcome at State House.
But such miscalculated political manipulation, could also, prove costly for the APC government.
The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 27 February 2014
Controversial debates surrounding the role of the former presidential candidate of the Sierra Leone’s Peoples party (SLPP) – Julius Maada Bio, in the military interregnum which toppled the despotic government of the APC in 1992, are unlikely to end anytime soon.
Although most Sierra Leoneans welcomed the military coup as a popular revolt against the undemocratic one party state, foisted upon the people of Sierra Leone by the APC government, there are many who continue to accuse former military leader – Maada Bio of usurping the powers of the people.
At the 2012 presidential election, where it is believed by some observers that more than 10% of all ballots casted for the ruling APC was the result of electoral malpractice, the retired Brigadier succeeded in convincing over 40% of the electorate about his democratic credentials.
And since the elections two years ago, supporters of Bio say that his popularity has continued to grow. But would this growing popularity be enough to convince the rank and file of the SLPP party to once again elect Bio as their presidential candidate for the 2018 elections?
Only time will tell. But in the meantime, Bio has been in London, where it seems support for the former military strongman is not in short supply, as Yusuf Keketoma reports for the Sierra Leone Telegraph.
The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 26 February 2014
Passion seems to be running quite high among groups of popular musicians in Freetown, following the announcement of Jamaica’s reggae artist – Busy Signal’s maiden visit to Sierra Leone.
The reggae star is scheduled to perform live in Freetown in April.
But already, the announcement has whipped up what can only be described as ‘political schizophrenia and frenzy’.
Although it is not certain what has sparked the confusion that has made its way into the corridors of State House, what is evident though, is that some unknown persons are planning to disturb the peace and harmony of the capital Freetown.
They have posted a facebook message threatening to violently disrupt the planned concerts. It is understood that the individuals responsible for the threats are claiming to be members of the Red Flag Movement (R.F.M.) supporting Sierra Leone’s pop artist known as LAJ.
The same group of individuals are also threatening to kill Busy Signal. This threat of violence is being taken seriously by the police. President Koroma is believed to have been informed of this ugly development.
The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 26 February 2014
No one has asked the people of Sierra Leone – the ordinary man and woman in the villages, towns and cities – 70% of whom cannot read or write – earning less than one dollar a day, what the Constitution of Sierra Leone means to them, and whether they would like to see it changed.
But, be that as it may, the government and sections of the international community believe that the country’s constitution must be reviewed, and to what end – 70% of the population are likely to be uncertain.
There is no argument against a review of the constitution. What is in question is the purpose of the review; the extent to which ordinary people understand what the constitution is; why it needs to be reviewed, and what they are being asked to do.
These questions are pertinent, because there are suspicions that president Koroma is hoping to use the constitutional review process, as a form of popular referendum that could usher in sweeping changes to the constitution, including extending the fixed two terms for a sitting president to three terms.
So where lies the truth?
The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 23 February 2014
The government of Sierra Leone has once again come under severe criticisms for its poor record on human rights, corruption, the disproportionate use of force and police brutality, as well as government’s collusion with mining companies – through dodgy contracts, that continues to dis-empower local land owners and communities.
According to a report published this week by the international Human Rights Watch, titled: ‘Whose Development?: Human Rights Abuses in Sierra Leone’s Mining Boom’, the government of Sierra Leone “should meaningfully address longstanding human rights problems such as corruption, opaque governance, unrestrained security forces, lack of clarity in land ownership, and abuses of authority by powerful local chiefs.”
“Protecting the rights of all Sierra Leoneans is not an option, but a legal obligation, particularly given Sierra Leone’s history of conflict, promoting rights as part of the country’s sustainable development is essential, says Rona Peligal – deputy director – Africa division of Human Rights Watch.
“With investors flocking to Sierra Leone, the government has an opportunity to promote development for its desperately poor population. But the African Minerals Limited case shows that, unless the government puts a stop to mining operation abuses, the people who most need to benefit from development will be excluded from it.”
Has the Koroma government become a self-serving autocracy?
The sierra Leone Telegraph: 23 February 2014
French and African Union troops are struggling to keep the Central African Republic from dangerously splitting into two religious enclaves. But with continuing violence and atrocities committed by both Muslim and Christian militias against civilians, the country is becoming ungovernable.
According to UN’s Ban Ki Moon, “almost one million people have been displaced, with many homes burned to the ground with the purpose of preventing their return. Whole populations are being moved. A creeping de facto partition of the country is setting in, with Muslims in one part and Christians in another. This separation is laying the seeds of conflict and instability for years, maybe generations to come.”
Humanitarian assistance is fast becoming dire, as millions become refugees in make-shift camps in their own country.
The government, led by the newly appointed – Madame Catherine Samba-Panza, is facing up to the challenge of rebuilding state governance and authority, but lacks the resources to get the job done.
Ban Ki Moon says that; “with no budget – hardly any resources and pervasive poverty, her abilities are sharply constrained. The path towards the restoration of state authority will be a long one”.