By Foday Moriba Conteh
President Dr. Julius Maada Bio has on Friday 8 September, 2023 held a significant meeting with representatives from the Commonwealth Secretariat and the leadership of the Independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion (ICPNC). Discussions centered on mediating efforts involving the opposition and key stakeholders, with a strong focus on deepening democracy, upholding the rule of law, and promoting peace in Sierra Leone.
During the meeting, President Bio expressed his Government’s unwavering commitment to those core principles, stating, “I had fruitful discussions with the delegation from the Commonwealth Good Offices for Peace and the Independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion, on my Government’s commitment towards deepening democracy, the rule of law and enhancing peace in Sierra Leone.”
He further reassured all mediating parties, including the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), of his Government’s willingness to collaborate with all Sierra Leoneans, including the Opposition Party, APC. President Bio emphasized the shared interest in the peace and progress of the nation, despite differing political paths.
The President also assured that his Government would continue to pursue a common ground for the advancement of the country, adding that he wanted to invite the main opposition All People’s Congress, APC, “to work with us in strengthening our democratic State Institutions by encouraging their elected officials, including Members of Parliament, Councillors, Chairs, and Mayors, to take their rightful seats and responsibilities entrusted to them by our citizens.
“Participating in the comprehensive and independent review of all Election Management Bodies and subsequent implementation of recommendations, to be conducted with the support of our national and international partners.
“Participating in broader governance improvements for State institutions, including the justice sector reform and our constitutional review processes. I also call on all the security sector personnel to protect the right to life and freedom of all citizens.
“As the Commander-In-Chief, I remain committed to our national values of peace, unity, freedom and justice. May God protect Sierra Leone and its citizens,” he concluded.
It could be recalled that ahead of the June 24 elections, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, addressed the signing of the Electoral Pledge by leaders of the two main political parties, which was witnessed by key national and international stakeholders, including the diplomatic community in the country on 25 May 2023.
She emphasized the need for political party leaders to publicly commit to upholding peace before, during and after the elections, adding that “Governing takes enormous courage, skill and heart, and I applaud all the candidates who have put themselves forward and all those who sign this election pledge.
“Presidential candidacy comes with a solemn responsibility, because the office of the President is a sacred trust. And this election pledge goes far beyond symbolism. It is a promise each candidate makes before the country and the people they strive to serve: to put the nation first, to work together, prioritize the national interests and the unity of Sierra Leone.”