In a bid to consolidate political tolerance between the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) party and the opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) both party executives yesterday signed a joint communiqué at State House to help quell all forms of political violence and to speed the country’s progress towards peaceful development.
Speaking at the signing ceremony the Executive Representative of the United Nations Secretary General Michael von der Schulenburg said “Sierra Leone has been an example for re-establishing democracy for having free elections and I think today Sierra Leone will also be an example for the international community and many countries in this region to say we don’t need violence so many other countries can come in an negotiate and coming in afterwards we do it ourselves and we do it very quickly”
He stated that Sierra Leone is a very beautiful country and it has a beautiful future.
He emphasized the significance of the communiqué which he said has 16 parts but that only 2 parts deal with the conflict and that all the others are about strengthening institutions.
Birch Conteh Administrative Chairman of the All Peoples Congress expressed thanks and appreciation to the International Community particularly the ERSG for facilitating the mediation to overcome the rift between the APC and the SLPP.
He lamented that “it is sad that a few years after a devastating war that we should have need to have third parties to come between us.”
He also said that the APC is committed to the communiqué to maintain peace and stability and that the party is aware of their responsibility noting that President Koroma is president of Sierra Leone and not President of the APC.
Chairman of the opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party John Oponjo Benjamin said “we have what you call religious tolerance we have what you call tribal tolerance what we need to put in place now is political tolerance” adding that there is need to enforce the rule of law.
He also called for the impartiality of the police and the judiciary noting that Sierra Leone needs help from donor partners and help with the youths. He added that there is a need to emulate the good example of parliamentarians who argue over issues and do not fight asking why that example is not being copied.
“Being in opposition does not mean you are a criminal we are committed to the communiqué and determined to implement it to the letter .For the country to survive we must say good bye to violence “ he assured.
After the signing ceremony President Koroma expressed thanks and appreciation for working hard to make the signing ceremony a success. He said as Father of the nation the events of the past three weeks have left him with mixed emotions. “Disappointed because a minority among us seem to believe that civil disorder is a means of resolving their problem, sadness for the damage that the unrest has caused to our reputation around the world and anger at the appalling allegations resulting to the abuse and mistreatment of women.”
He said that political parties should be proud of coming together for a peaceful and prosperous Sierra Leone, with values that are fundamental citing the peaceful conduct of three successful elections in the last two years.
President Koroma stated that he wants the investigations to go on quickly with a focus on the allegations of rape and sexual assault. He also heeded a part of the communiqué which called for the setting up of an investigative panel saying that he will soon call both parties and the diplomats to State house to agree on an “independent distinguished and impartial individual” who should head the investigations.
He also promised to consult with other political parties for appointments to important commissions like NEC, PPRC and the National Commission for Democracy.
Hon. Shiaka Samai of PMDC delivered the vote of thanks