What is Holding the Establishment of the Commission for Peace and National Cohesion?

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    By Ambassador Festus J. Lahai

    In his address to Parliament, President Julius Maada Bio was very firm on the Establishment of Peace and National Cohesion Commission which has long been overdue going by the promises of past leaders in the country.

    Immediately after the 11 years civil war, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Report made it very clear for the establishment of many democratic institutions including the Peace Commission.

    This is what President Bio said in Parliament in May 2019:

    Building and Promoting National Cohesion

    “Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, 12 months ago, we recognized the fact that the past governance strategy was characterized by divisiveness, exclusion, and the weakening and subversion of state governing institutions. We promised to launch a Presidential Initiative that will herald a national conference on diversity management and the rebuilding of national cohesion. We also promised to fully implement the national youth service scheme where young people from one part of the country will be cross-posted to other parts for their national youth service”

    “Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I am pleased to report that Government has prepared for the establishment of the Independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion. A Green Paper has been submitted for consultation on how to achieve inclusive governance and improve on the infrastructure for peace and democratization. Together with the Green Paper on Democratic Consolidation and National Cohesion, we shall host a National Dialogue Conference to be called Bintumani III on Democratic Consolidation for Peace and National Cohesion scheduled for 23-25 May 2019”

    “I have initiated multiparty stakeholders’ dialogue meeting at State House with all registered political parties. This initiative will promote political dialogue among political parties and help promote national cohesion. This dialogue meeting will be held at least once every quarter or as when deem necessary by any of the parties”

    “Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, to further enhance national cohesion, my administration will work with political parties to develop bi-partisan programmes on critical development challenges in the country. This year, I will make public the Terms of Reference and composition of two bi-partisan committees to develop long term national programmes on housing and persons living with disabilities. My hope is that this bi-partisan sectoral programme development will culminate into the preparation of a Long-term Development Plan that can even be legislated.

    Furthermore, in a Press Release from State House it clearly stated that the Peace and National Cohesion Commission was to be established in June 2019 even before the much-talked-about Bintumani lll Peace Conference six months ago.

    Many Sierra Leoneans were of the view that a Secretariat should have been set up, headed by the would-be-Commissioner of the Peace Commission to be doing some activities with regards Peace Clubs and working with Peace Organizations across the country.

    I was at the Golden Tulip Hotel this year when the Vice President Dr. Mohamed Judeh Jalloh, Keynote speaker of the International day for Peace and Democracy in Freetown said:

    “We are a peaceful nation and we have conducted many elections without Violence, Free, Fair and Credible and the outcome accepted by all Political parties”

    State House recently received diplomats from the United Nations Peace Building who visited President Bio. I am very sure those diplomats may have reminded our President about his Speech in Parliament of the establishment of the Peace and National Cohesion Commission which will help Sierra Leone move away from Tribalism, Regionalism and Political divide.

    Mr. President please be reminded that we have so many Peace Experts in this country including PhDs and Masters holders in the field, who have contributed towards the development of this country’s peace and development.

    We are not expecting your proposed Commissioner to come from the Diaspora but choose from those who organized the much talked about Peace Conference at Bintumani because they are experts and some of them have international recognition and can unite this country for the next generation with your support towards the Commission.

    Mr. President this is November and we are yet to see any tangible move relating to the establishment of the Peace and National Cohesion Commission. Why the delay, Prezo?

    You are pushing for the establishment of other institutions and yet the Peace Commission is still not formed. We all know how important this Commission will be and we need it now in order to heal the wounds of division and political intolerance across the country.

    Mr. President, please do all in your powers to get the Commission established before the end of 2019 or we’ll continue to experience the things that will continue to split our people apart. You are also a Peace Expert and you wouldn’t want the country to go down that line.

    I rest my case as I await prompt action on the establishment of the Commission.
    God bless you all!!!

     

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