The recent awarding of an honorary membership of the Parliament of Sierra Leone on the President of Libya, Colonel Muammar Al Gadaffi on New Year’s Day, 1st January 2009 has left the Civil Society advocacy organization – Campaign for Good Governance (CGG) in an unpleasant mood.
In a statement circulated to various media houses, CGG states that it “view(s) the conferment of the award as untimely and a sign of insensitivity to the suffering of the people of Sierra Leone by the government”.
According to the release, “Witnesses, victims and history has provided us with information on the role played by the Libyan President in the conflict in Sierra Leone where the victims are still grappling with the scars; the country as a whole is still grappling with the effects of economic slowdown and weak service delivery.”
It also states that as a result of the war “citizens also have to contend with poorly maintained infrastructure such as roads and bridges, limited revenue base, overcrowding of urban towns especially the capital city and a general slowdown in the overall development of the country.
The release recalls, that yesterday marked the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Freetown, “a situation that brought with it gross human rights violations that still remains in the lives of the victims and survivors.”
The question at hand, it states is “what are the priorities of our nation during this period of healing and re-growth?”
“As we reflect, we do not expect our elected representatives to have given an honorary award to a man who contributed so significantly to the mayhem that occurred in the country for eleven years.” The release went on to argue that “The Parliamentarians were chosen by the people to represent the interest of the people in Parliament,” and asked, “is this award a reflection of the interest of the people of Sierra Leone they are to represent?”
The release suggested that “Parliament should have called upon the Libyan President to apologise to the people of Sierra Leone.”
“An apology the people of Sierra Leone deserve and still waits,” CGG demands.
CGG expressed its sympathy with victims and survivors of the January 6th 1999 invasion of Freetown, and called on government to demonstrate commitment to the reparations program and the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission; and urged government to identify specific days for the official commemoration of what started in March 1996, noting that “any nation that forgets its history stands to make the same mistakes of the past.”