By Amin Kef (Ranger)
President Julius Maada Bio, on Saturday, December 2, 2023, addressed the nation for the second time, following an attempted coup d’état on November 26, 2023. The President’s address comes in the wake of violence and instability that has shaken the capital, Freetown.
The President commenced his address by greeting his fellow countrymen, acknowledging the assault on the Wilberforce Military Barracks in Freetown’s Western Area. He described the early morning gunfire as an attempt by ruthless hooligans to unleash anarchy on the city.
It could be recalled that the Wilberforce Military Barracks was violently breached by unknown assailants, resulting in an intense gunfight during which the attackers were repelled by loyal forces but they proceeded to cause destruction to lives and property in various parts of Freetown.
The President mourned the loss of gallant officers who paid the ultimate price in the defense of the nation’s peace, security, democracy and extended his prayers and condolences to the bereaved families wishing the wounded a speedy recovery.
President Bio asserted that investigations conducted by the Security and Intelligence Community strongly point to the events of November 26 as an orchestrated coup attempt to overturn the elected Government and disrupt constitutional order.
He confirmed that arrests have been made and full investigations launched, that the Sierra Leone Police have released a list of wanted persons, further urging citizens to assist in providing information leading to the arrest of the fugitives.
Reminding his fellow citizens of the peaceful elections held five months ago, President Bio condemned the coup attempt as a grave and unpardonable act. He reiterated his unwavering commitment to a multi-party democracy and to upholding the laws of the nation.
President Bio touched upon the nation’s resilience through past challenges, such as the ten-year civil war, the Ebola outbreak, the recent COVID-19 pandemic, and the 2017 mudslide disaster. He emphasized how these trials have not diminished the determination of his people but have fostered hope for a brighter future.
Expressing gratitude for his re-election in June 2023, the President pledged to improve the quality of life for Sierra Leone’s citizens and continue transformative socio-economic programs, with Feed Salone as the flagship initiative.
The President assured the nation that the response to the coup attempt will be measured and based solely on the rule of law also pledging to follow the evidence wherever it leads, and hold all those found culpable accountable within the confines of the law.
President Bio expressed his gratitude to global leaders, bilateral and multilateral partners, including ECOWAS, the African Union, the Commonwealth, the European Union, and the United States of America, for their support during these challenging times.
He urged citizens to reject any attempts to divide the nation through violence and unconstitutional means also encouraging fellow Sierra Leoneans to remain united and resilient, guided solely by the rule of law.
The President Bio concluded his address by saying: “May God bless and protect the great people of Sierra Leone and our friends and partners living in Sierra Leone. Long live the Republic of Sierra Leone.”