The American Ambassador in Freetown has reportedly told the AFP news agency that “There is a possibility for a run-off poll in November’s presidential election apparently between the (ruling) All People’s Congress party and the (main opposition) Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP).” Ambassador Michael Owen went on to say “Both parties appear to have good support,” when interviewed by a local radio station. But the Ambassador’s statements couldn’t be too far from wrong. The US diplomat must be fully aware of the impact his statement would have on stakeholders. To suggest that the opposition SLPP party led by Julius Maada Bio, who sold the country’s passports to corrupt Asian businessmen in exchange for thousands of dollars, enjoy good support like the incumbent APC party led by president Erenest Bai Koroma, may just be a bit misleading. I honestly do not believe the diplomat’s statement reflects his government in Washington’s views.
The US government fully recognises the complexities of the current political situation and have clearly demonstrated US policy when it comes to human rights abusers, as just recently, the embassy denied Julius Maada Bio entry Visa to a country where he was asked to depart voluntarily or face deportation. The Ambassador must also be aware of domestic abuse allegations and possible arraignment in court for Julius Maada Bio who has been accused of duping an Iranian businessman of thousands of dollars in a business deal that went badly wrong. I don’t know what part of Sierra Leone the Ambassador lives, but he must have seen the thousands of people who came out during nomination day for the APC presidential candidate and running mate. An exceptional outpouring of love, unprecedented in the politics of this West African State. And for the Ambassador to suggest that the party led by a known criminal and a former Junta leader, who presided over the summary executions of 29 innocent men and women in cold-blooded fashion, enjoys the support of the masses, may indicate that the diplomat’s statement was deliberate, and was meant to convey the wrong idea. It may also suggest that the diplomat, who recently received family members whose loved ones where massacred under the orders of Julius Maada Bio, is not sensitive to their plight, and demands for an inquest into their deaths.
Julius Maada Bio enjoys no support in Sierra Leone. Those who are rounded up and provided locally made (omolay) liquor and canabis, and asked to wave flags with green palm-tree logo printed t-shirts, to convey publicly that they are SLPP supporters that came out in suport of Maada Bio, are thugs who are remnants of the ruthless NPRC regime that have been maintained by the former dictator to cause havoc and mayhem during this election time. The diplomat must have also heard of attacks on SLPP defectors, and how some were brutally wounded on the orders of Julius Maada Bio and his henchmen. And there will not be any run-off as our diplomat friend may suggest. These polls will be decisive and nothing but a landslide victory for the APC.
If at all the Ambassador was going to make a statement, I was expecting him to highlight on the plight of the families of loved ones who were so gruesomely murdered, and urge the government to hold an inquest. Sierra Leone is no more the country it used to be Your Excellency, the people do know the difference between a statesman and a thug passing for opposition presidential candidate, and you should not raise your expectations too high, as the people are prepared to send a powerful message to the international community come November 17 – and that will be: they are not keen on a regime change, and that they will not trade the development foundations they have seen first hand, being laid by the APC-led government, for an uncertain future with a band of state embezzlers and human rights abusers. Ambassador Michael Owen has been a true friend of Sierra Leone since he assumed his diplomatic assignment in Sierra Leone, initiating some wonderful projects to help communities and enhance the bilateral ties between the two countries, I would suggest he remains that way.
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