Mr. Bangura told COCORIOKO today : “I am in the United States as an opposition leader and prospective President of Sierra Leone to put right the Human Rights Watch indictment of the African Minerals Company and by extension, Sierra Leone. As a potential President of Sierra Leone, my responsibility is to protect foreign investors and the interest of the country” . It must be recalled that Human Rights Watch, in its recent report on Sierra Leone, charged , among many other things that : ” The Sierra Leonean government, while promoting the company’s operations as essential to Sierra Leone’s economic development, permitted corporate actions that violated the rights of Tonkolili’s residents… For example, the government failed to provide adequate oversight of the company’s consultations with local communities or respond to repeated complaints about the forced relocation of residents. Both the government and the company misled villagers about what would happen once they were moved to the new site. ”
Mr. Bangura said that portions of the Human Rights Watch Report were misleading and that though “We need the African Minerals Company because they are the highest source of employment in the country , that does not mean that they will be encouraged to commit crimes against the people of Sierra Leone. As a party , the UDM would encourage them to stay but where they go wrong, we will let them know and have them correct the problems ” .
Mr. Bangura informed COCORIOKO that at 12 noon tomorrow, he and Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the United States, H.E. Bockarie Stevens, will be meeting with officials of Human Rights Watch to discuss the report.
The next important matter that Mr. Bangura said he was here to address is the false belief among Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora that President Koroma would be seeking a third term. He made it clear that President Koroma has no third term agenda. The President has said that he will not add one hour or one day to his term of office.” The information is going to come from an opposition leader and we will appeal to Sierra Leoneans to support the President’s programs in diverse ways .” He said he and Ambassador Stevens have already met with representatives of the other opposition party, the Sierra Leone People’s Party ( SLPP ) at the Sierra Leone Embassy to assure them that President Koroma will not be seeking a third term.
Mr. Bangura said there will be a town meeting at the Embassy on Saturday “Where we will brief Sierra Leoneans about what is going on in the country” . He announced that the Government’s Outreach Coordinator, Mr. Abdulai Bayraytay, has also arrived in Washington DC and will take part in the town meeting.