On Friday 1st March 2019, in an unprecedented move aimed at strengthening political engagement and collaboration, His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio met with all the leaders of the registered Political Parties in the country. This maiden consultative meeting, State House say is part of his inclusive governance approach to state governance.
Leader of Government Business in Parliament, Hon Sidie M. Tunis, in his welcome statement told the various political party representatives that he was instructed by the President to contact the leadership of all political parties for a meeting that will strengthen political engagement and collaboration.
Addressing the members of political parties, President Bio maintained that politics was now over and it was time for governance, adding that it is his belief that all political parties would want the best for the country but that the routes to achieve that goal are different. He further maintained that the meeting was meant to show that politicians are not enemies but that all of them can work in the best interest of the country. “This meeting is to encourage dialogue among political parties for national development and social cohesion in the country,” President Bio stated.
President Bio also used the forum to update political parties on three recent national issues which have stirred up public debates: the appointment of the Electoral Commissioner – South, the Commissions of Inquiry and the declaration of the State of Emergency.
On the three issues, President Bio briefed the leaders of political parties that all of the decisions have been taken in the best interest of the country and that the forum will now strengthen the consultation and dialogue among political parties. “For instance, the Commissions of Inquiry is for all of us as politicians so that it can serve as a deterrent and draw a line under corruption,” President Bio asserted.
Explaining the rationale for the State of Emergency, President Bio emotionally explained that when he heard the statistics and listened to the stories of survivors, he felt compelled that something urgent needed to be done not just to call for action, but to mobilise resources to support the survivors. He assured the leaders of political parties, including representatives of the All People’s Congress, that the State of Emergency was specific to address rape and sexual violence and not for politics.
Responding to President Bio, various senior members of other Political Parties including Hon. Minkailu Mansaray and Alhaji Osman Foday Yansaneh of the All People’s Congress, Dr Dennis Bright of the National Grand Coalition, Dr Jonathan Sandy of the National Unity and Reconciliation Party, Tamba R. Sandi of the Coalition for Change among others, praised President Bio for the initiative to engage leaders of other political parties on national issues and individually stressed that such dialogue will promote social cohesion and reduce political tension. Detailed discussion also took place in camera between the President and political party leaders.
All seventeen (17) political parties were represented at the meeting by their senior leadership and these registered Parties are: Alliance Democratic Party (ADP); All People’s Congress (APC); Citizens Democratic Party (CDP); National Democratic Alliance (NDA); National Progressive Democrats (NPD); National Unity and Reconciliation Party (NURP); Peace and Liberation Party (PLP); People’s Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC); People’s Democratic Party (PDP); Revolutionary United Front Party (RUFP); Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP); United Democratic Movement (UDM); United National People’s Party (UNPP); Unity Party (UP); National Grand Coalition (NGC); Republic National Independent Party (RENIP) and Coalition for Change (C4C). His Excellency President Bio also assured the leaders of political parties that such a meeting will be held more frequently to enhance political dialogue and collaboration.