The three major political parties in the country, SLPP, APC and PMDC yesterday made statements of commitment and determination to denounce political violence in the country at the APC convention held at the Wusum Grounds in Makeni.
In his opening statements President Koroma gave a brief history of the APC party and assured that it caters for all types of people who meet the party requirements and that Sierra Leone has seen some bad times and there is a need to support government initiatives particularly the energy sector.
He called on Sierra Leoneans to adopt good political tolerance and warned that people involved in violent activities will be severely dealt with according to the law; “I will not allow violence to jeopardize our hard won peace; if you want to be APC you must be law abiding and if you also want to criticize us do it constructively”.
President Koroma expressed gratitude to the International Community for their support towards sustainable Development of the Country. “We are on the move” he assured the delegates.
PMDC Leader Charles Margai cautioned President Koroma to be careful with the people around him as they will destroy his good leadership and the party as a whole. He also said that Sierra Leoneans need to come together.
The Chairman of the Opposition Sierra Leone Peoples’ Party (SLPP) John Oponjo Benjamin assured that his party would stand shoulder to shoulder with the APC and noted “I assure you all here present today that the SLPP will stand shoulder to shoulder with you in the APC to support you even as we constructively criticize your Government when it is necessary to do so in the interest of our people. You can count on the SLPP to fully support you when necessary and, I dare say, to fully criticize you also when necessary”.
John Benjamin also spoke about the need for strong nationhood and statehood as he stated that Sierra Leoneans have never had differences as a consequence of religion and tribe yet has been extremely slow towards development. That he attributed to “The Pull-Him-Down syndrome has been developed into an art in this country. By using bits and pieces of tribe, religion, party, etc. etc. we find enough reason to beat each other down to the ground”
He mentioned that the month of April was significant to the country as the 48 years of Nationhood will be celebrated as well as the celebration of 38 years as a Republic.
The SLPP Chairman reminisced that “Our country Sierra Leone has always cherished itself as the land of the free. Even our National anthem attests to this. The first stanza reads: “High we exalt thee, Realm of the free”. However, there have been times when our leaders have not granted freedom to the citizens; times when we have abrogated our responsibilities as leaders. This neglect of our duties has severally led to unfortunate developments. Maybe a trip down memory lane could help us better savor the significance of my statement today which is a call for us to come together, live up to our duties and responsibilities and build Sierra Leone into a developed, democratic Nation our children can be proud to call their home”.
Again, he made reference to the days of slavery when the young and energetic were carted away as slaves as that time “Our soul was depleted. But in essence, our tribal and community wars acted as catalysts for the slave trade. It will appear that we seem to delight in actively partaking in weakening our human resource base as the smallest perceived offence is easily taken as an excuse to hurt our fellow citizens. Yet, we have a remarkable resilience to be an outstanding people. So it was that by the nineteenth century, we became the haven of freed slaves. We became the citadel of Christianity. We became the bastion of education in West Africa”.
John Benjamin further said the war was a culmination of a Nation doing all in its power to destroy itself as no one could put a finger at the exact reasons or causes as the most barbaric action against one another was perpetrated. “Why? No-one exactly knows why”. He thus called for sober reflection as it is imperative on the young generation that witnessed economic stagnation and negative growth to take sober reflection of the dire circumstances and do those things that are uplifting to the spirit of the country.
He adduced the fact that despite belonging to different political parties they should not be considered as enemies as the common goal was to move the country out of poverty.
“Together, with a unity of purpose, we can do it. I must register profound gratitude to the international community and the diplomatic corps in Sierra Leone for their untiring efforts to help us come together in this atmosphere of political tolerance”.
He again assured them “I assure you all here present today that the SLPP will stand shoulder to shoulder with you in the APC to support you even as we constructively criticize your Government when it is necessary to do so in the interest of our people. You can count on the SLPP to fully support you when necessary and, I dare say, to fully criticize you also when necessary”.