BOMBSHELL HIT BINTUMANI 3 PEACE TALKS*
*By: M. S. Kabba*
The preamble surrounding the Bintumani 3 Peace Initiatives have already failed before it even started. The proposed Government Green Paper, prepared by the Chief Minister, professor David Francis has deliberately excluded the fair participation of other political parties, as equal partners in the peace process. In his preface, he distinctively exonerated the causes of the SLPP deepening tribal divisiveness and the current declining state of human rights violations in the country.
However, he stated that APC is the main route cause of tribal tensions and that since 2007, the electoral franchise has been registered by potentially destabilising tensions, outburst of violence and entrenched patterns of ethnic and regional voting. A situation he described as reminiscent of the late 1960s political turmoil that provided the false justification for the imposition of one-party by late President Siaka P. Stevens. Meanwhile, Professor Francis has intentionally omitted the fact that the SLPP was also characterised by massive regional voting pattern under President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah locally known as ‘Wuteteh’ where a candidate scored zero in a pooling station, in spite of the presence of their pooling agents.
Furthermore, he stated that the re-emergence of ‘tribal’ and regional politics, largely absent during the years of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah’s SLPP rule and ethnic favouritism only emerged during the APC Government under former President Ernest Bai Koroma. Ironically, it is now known that the President’s Peace Initiative is just a ploy to shift blame on the opposition, rather than focusing on the political tensions ravaging our democracy. Peace initiatives world over are symbolised with collective views of all state actors to outline an agreeable agenda for peace.
Moreover, peace-making is a process of negotiation and not paint brushing of the opponent as the aggressor, preceding the talks. In 1995 and 1999 Bintumani Conferences brought together all political leaders, traditional rulers and representatives of civil society to determine the terms of a peace agreement. Besides, both conferences were spearheaded by the National Commission for Democracy and Human Rights and Inter-religious Council, who made an extensive regional consultation, before outlining a road map for peace and they were seen as neutral players in the conflict.
In the light of the above, the APC Party has got no alternative but to reject, the invitation, for lack of sincerity on the part of the SLPP. As a result, the party had made its position very clear in the party headquarters in front of all and sundry. According to the National Secretary General Dr. Alhaji Osman Foday Yansaneh, stated that absolutely there is nothing on the Conference program that made provision for a statement from the APC representatives or any other political party. Moreover, the APC was never approached, nor consulted on the proposed Government Green Paper during the planning stage and that the party, only received 10 invitation cards to attend the conference last Friday.
Consequently , this inconsiderable action has made many to believe that the conference is just a theatrical window dressing by the SLPP Government to acquit and discharge itself from the increasing International isolation, against the human right violations in the country. However, the underling truth that stands out to achieve a guarantee peace initiative in Sierra Leone, is to avoid sweeping things under the carpet and pretend to appear that the APC is the problem.
In conclusion, the rampant abuse of our democracy goes unabated by this regime and the attempt of using verbal subterfuges and diplomatic dossiers to cover the truth will not attain lasting peace. Henceforth, the SLPP Leadership, should go back to the drawing board and abide by the constitution and allow political tolerance, instead of glamouring of a stage managed Bintumani 3 Conference.
*Departement of International Affairs.*