Will the world stand by as Sierra Leone “QUIETLY” Slip back into War?
If the Headline got you thinking; Oh my God, Not again! Then this article is meant to do exactly that so that we can intervene before further escalation as the non-conventional war which precedes the conventional is on full blown scale within the political masterminds that can provoke the extremes!
Flashback slightly over a decade ago, it all seems we sighed a huge relief to say thank God this brutal war is over with many lessons learned not to repeat. There were International tribunal’s setup to address the atrocities, Truth and reconciliation commissions, you name it; the international community had all kinds of things to say it was this that caused the war and the peace and this that would make it NEVER Come back again. With a bitterly conducted elections in which it is alleged that the international community favored a regime change regardless of who wins, the gains and spoils are being fought over in every means with the exception of the guns, but by the time you hear the guns, it will already be too late.
PRESIDENT MAADA BIO THE WAR MONGER
The sad truth is that Sierra Leone is being failed right now by that very international community being blindfolded by the current regime as a cleansing of corruption. While this piece is not about corruption, it will be a mistake to exonerate a seemingly criminal outgone government whom regardless of any corrupt exploits was able to keep tribal tensions low, with a somewhat shady political tolerance and did make a few infrastructural gains, some economic gains blinded by ebola and an iron ore double shock to a small nation that 5 years ago was ranked as one of the fastest growing economies of the world.
Many Sierra Leoneans welcomed the change hoping to progress the economy and many other challenges with always the underlying nationally accepted tone that we must keep the peace as a primary objective. The sad truth is that the economy has dwindled much further and threatens to activate a youthquake most of whom fought as child soldiers with an almost 80% unemployment rate, an exodus of some business people who are afraid of the tensions in the country and a government whose credentials for tribalism, political tolerance, retribution is seriously under question.
An example of the unfortunate trend is the basis of the initial government transition report which pointed how tribalistic the previous government was in its hiring practices, only to name its new team exceeding those numbers of its predecessors. It seemed the report was more interested in justifying what it what wanted to do than what it projected to correct. Equally so, the bane of the problem now is this assessment of corruption and corrupt officials, a common tool used to go after opposition members.
As at now, it seems that it is more tribally geared based on the fact that the majority of those being accused and jailed for in some cases, long periods before any proper trial or rules of evidence on any trumped up charges that can indict a fly for conspiracy are on opposition or ethnic northerners, who are beginning to galvanize their base of supporters to protests that has the potential to spark an outburst of suppressed anger. Some of those in the north and nationally believe that even if they allege corruption, it should be proven in a court of law, but the current government is having none of it, and hopes to bypass this by a commission of inquiry with its own cronies with a parliamentary approval that itself is under question wherein the majority has now become the minority by a hoax in electing the speaker, which the international community itself is watching an abuse of its democratic credentials based on the brazen power grab by the current regime in Parliament where it is in the minority, but grabbed power anyway. The tension is real and it is only a matter of time before the international community is forced to again send troops to help Sierra Leone if its fatigue allows it to pay attention early enough to what can be prevented to advise a current government and hold it accountable to drive nationalistic agenda that can increase its chances of having a second term, than what may otherwise become a totally tribal/regional election based on the pent up anger.
Before I rest this brief piece which will require a lot more to help you understand if you are an outsider, I must point the fact that whatever is going on, requires urgent international attention with a microscopic view to keeping the peace whilst balancing the 100 pound gorilla in the room between “corruption” and tribal and regional politics” which should it not be prevented, could see Sierra Leone in a Rwanda-like insurrection as the sentiments this time compared to previous wars seems more tribal than economic.
The government needs an urgent economic agenda that gets a very jittery private sector believing that entrepreneurship in a genuine government can thrive as opposed to now aligning anyone who did business under the previous regime as an opposition member unless he or she gave the current regime at that time campaign funds. 5 years is too short to make the economic turnaround if Sierra Leone does not get its private sector working to support the free education and other programmes which this government needs as a pillar to win another elections. The private sector is under tremendous stress after so many economic shocks where if you still see a private business person still standing since ebola should be commended. The confidence however is lacking as many businesses are beginning to think the only way out is to close down or scale down further hampering youth employment prospects and thereby hampering job growth for tax bases to help finance the New Direction Agenda.
Fighting corruption is a marathon and not a sprint, deliberate methods measured for impact within the context of Sierra Leone, but gradual cultural adaption in all classes of Sierra Leone is a prerequisite and cannot be achieved overnight. In a nation with the brutal history and tensions like Sierra Leone with elements of corruption ingrained in the culture, there are too many lessons from Rwanda, South Africa and the like to miss out on than to head for the silent guns, before the real guns. The current government must know that it ought to thread carefully knowing that it is also setting a precedent for when it will be in opposition.
The lessons learnt from World War I is that it created world War II, hence so many interventions have been placed to stop or delay World War III. Sierra Leone can learn from this by the SLPP finding ways to salvage the peace first before anything else. You cannot build an economy without peace. Investors will not come or invest. President Kabba figured this out, so did Ernest Koroma.
President Bio and Prime Minister Francis should realize that their peace studies credentials are being strongly questioned beyond classroom antics where practicality is required to attain success with a gradual implementation of measures that improves accountability whilst maintaining the peace and building the economy with a progressive ant-corruption strategy. The current administration should also be worried about as some of its current ministers and party stalwarts are being accused of amassing huge sums of wealth with only a couple of months in power. This begs the question, so who is corrupt? Was it ever about corruption? The current trend is almost like a free for all to get jobs for the supporters in an economy that does not create jobs, and the push to take contracts from legitimate businesses to give current supporters is creating an anarchic state that builds tensions that could escalate on a whim with a hungry population seeking opportunities to barely survive even if the surface level tells you otherwise. Sierra Leone is a very fragile state and we must proceed with caution, not retribution. Keep the peace now before it’s too late!!!
National Movement for a United Sierra Leone!