By Amin Kef (Ranger)
In a nationally televised address on Thursday, January 18, 2024, President Julius Maada Bio of the Republic of Sierra Leone shared a message of hope and optimism, echoing the sentiments expressed in his New Year’s Message. The President highlighted the significant achievements in the first two weeks of the year, including assuming the UN Security Council seat and the re-selection for the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact, reinforcing Sierra Leone’s standing on the global stage.
President Bio underlined the importance of unity, freedom, and justice, emphasizing that only through unity can the nation achieve a peaceful and prosperous future. He acknowledged the challenges faced by the country and reiterated the government’s commitment to promoting peaceful coexistence.
In recent days, the President engaged with key stakeholders, including Paramount Chiefs, the Inter-Religious Council, opposition leaders, and families of security officers lost during the November 26th failed coup. These meetings aimed to reinforce the government’s dedication to peace and security.
President Bio clarified that unity does not imply uniformity but involves acknowledging and celebrating differences while embracing shared values. The government continues to prioritize dialogue and understanding, as evident in the sustained implementation of mediated dialogue elements, including the establishment of the tripartite electoral review committee and the inter-party dialogue.
Despite efforts to promote peace, the President warned against unpatriotic elements disrupting the peace and tranquility of the country, affirming that the rule of law would prevail. He highlighted the recent trial of former President Ernest Bai Koroma, emphasizing that the judiciary’s decision to grant his temporary departure for medical reasons does not diminish the trial’s seriousness.
Commending the professionalism of the police and judiciary in handling the trial, President Bio assured Sierra Leoneans that the government would uncover the truth behind the events of November 26, 2023, and bring those involved to justice.
On economic matters, President Bio emphasized efforts to stabilize the economy and attract foreign direct investments. He stressed the importance of a peaceful and secure environment for economic growth, calling for investments in building peace and unity.
Acknowledging Sierra Leone’s diverse cultures and traditions, President Bio viewed this diversity as a source of strength. He urged the nation to see national pride as a driving force for collective efforts in overcoming challenges and achieving greatness.
Concluding his address, President Bio called for building bridges, not walls, celebrating differences, and finding strength in shared aspirations. He expressed confidence that together, Sierra Leoneans could forge a path towards a brighter and more prosperous nation. The President concluded with a rallying cry: “Long live the Republic of Sierra Leone, and God bless you all.”