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Archive for March, 2006

LIBERIAN WAR-MONGERS SHOULD NOT UNDERMINE JUSTICE

Saturday, March 25th, 2006

CHARLESTAYLORGUNPOINTING (600 x 916)

LIBERIAN WAR-MONGERS   SHOULD NOT UNDERMINE JUSTICE

 

Saturday March 25 , 2006

By Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu

There is no doubt that Liberia’s former President,  Charles Taylor,  committed despicable and macabre war crimes when he let loose on the  nation of Sierra Leone blood-thirsty and savage rebel fighters , who not only killed over 50, 000 innocent children, women and men,  but completely destroyed a once paradise-like country .

When you add to those crimes  what Taylor did to his own  country by triggering a civil war that left over 200, 000 people dead and the nation in ruins , you would understand why there is no way that the Butcher of Gbarnga should not be brought to justice . If Taylor is let off the hook, a terrible precedent of impunity will be set that will sink the African continent one day. 

It is therefore incumbent on President George W. Bush , the U.S. Congress , the United Nations, ECOWAS  and the international community not to allow the war-mongers in Liberia to have their way in undermining the process that has been set in motion to bring Taylor to justice.

It is an insult to civility and international decorum for  these thugs and killers in Liberia who should , by right, have been cooling their heels in prison, to be crying their heads off that they will resort to terrorism if  Taylor is punished for his crimes. What kind of beasts and animals are they that they have such contempt for justice ?

Even children yet to be born will one day look at the ruins of Liberia and Sierra Leone and view the horrific pictures of the two wars–Of innocent pregnant women being disembowelled for instance–and  be outraged if they learn that those who perpetuated these vile crimes against innocent people walked free.

The international community should stand ready to enter Liberia , as the U.S  did in Panama, to uproot these vandals, rapists and butchers if they try any more funny tricks in the country. Liberia does not only need peace and tranquility ;she needs to be part of a process where the rule of law is seen to be operating internationally. The peace and stability of Liberia depends on the smooth movement of the wheels of justice. Liberia can never actualize the high standards of peace and stability she  wants to set in her new dispensation if she has in her midst lawless people who think that they are untouchable.

If these people are allowed to have their way, isn’t it logical to conclude that one day they will hijack the democratic process and overthrow the just-installed government of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in their show of  impunity ?  Will any government, any civilized and democratic process ever be safe  in the hands of these animals ?

The last thing Liberia and Africa need is the implantation and concretization of the spirit of impunity. It was  this spirit that set the stage for the bloody and unnecessary coups and wars that turned Liberia and Sierra Leone into living hells for hard-working people who deserved a better deal. The time has come to uproot this system of impunity.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has started on a wonderful note to bring reconstruction and progress back to Liberia. The international community, including President Bush and the UN should rally around this new , promising Liberian leadership to ensure that it achieves its goals and objectives .–And there is no better way to do this than  by not only providing the economic aid Sirleaf needs to rebuild Liberia but to make Liberia safe and secure.

The UN Peacekeeping Force in Liberia has to be beefed up to meet the challenges of anarchists and terrorists. The UN Security Council should set up contigency plans to have the peace-keeping force in Liberia for the next 5 years to help Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf consolidate peace and rebuild the country.

Cowards fear nothing but the guns of restraint and punishment .It was these same guns that put paid to the animals in Sierra Leone , led by Foday Sankoh.The same guns can crush and put  out of business the animals in Liberia.

Charles Taylor must face justice, notwithstanding the threats of violence from his supporters.

 

 

FORMER EDITOR STIRS THE HORNET’S NEST

Friday, March 24th, 2006

Sheku-Kallon

Friday March 24, 2006

Former Editor the NEW PEOPLE  newspaper of Maryland, political activist, Sheku Kallon, has stood steadfastly by his story that  certain newspapers in Sierra Leone were in the pockets of the President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah government. Kallon , after being quizzed yesterday by COCORIOKO  about the authenticity of his story, fired back :   “It is a genuine article. You can put my name on it as the team that put it together is in Sierra Leone and are  not afraid of the consequences from governement as well as other journalists “.

Yesterday , an apparently agitated Sheku Kallon stirrred the hornet’s nest when he released what he asserted was  the result of a probe into the running of newspapers in Sierra Leone by an investigative team in Freetown. Kallon named four newspapers as  being clandestinely financed by President Kabbah’s government.

Kallon’s investigative team’s findings were published at LEONENET-UMBC  and the article soon provoked a firestorm of aggressive responses from forumites who grilled Kallon about the credibility of his assertions.  But the journalist yesterday stood behind his story.COCORIOKO  too, concerned that some of the newspapers mentioned , like AWOKO  and THE DEMOCRAT  were edited by men who have demonstrated their integrity before, challenged Kallon about the authenticity of the story , but the journalist remained unmoved,  and stating that the story was true asked this newspaper to publish the story and print his name there as he and his investigative team were not afraid of the consequences.

READ MR. KALLON’S ARTICLE

I was finally able to get this expose from my investigative team in
Sierra Leone. Enjoy.

EDITORS OF AWOKO, AWARENESS TIMES, NEW VISION,DEMOCRAT,THE NEWS,AND
UNITY NEWSPAPERS ARE IN GOVERNMENT’S POCKETS.
Report reaching me indicate that the above mentioned news papers are having direct benefits from the SLPP government coffers
Because taking into cognisance the way and manner these newspapers  report stories
The publisher of Awareness Times , Dr Slyvia Blyden , in her own case  is not benefiting from the government coffers but she is a boot-licker aspiring for some big post in the SLPP government that is why when she opened up  her paper she was lambasting the government.but later she was called upon the bag wagon of the SLPP and now she is aiming at some thing big,some say she want a minster position, infact that is the reason why she designed Presidential Lodge website for free.and most times she is in the harbit of intimidating journalists, disclosing story sources and above all a bogus human being moreover the Sierra Leone Association Of Journalists is planning to debar her of practicing.
As for democrat the publisher Pious Foray is a beneficiary from the Vice President Campaing budget, in fact Berewa owns the democrat as it is  greatly rumoured. For the publisher of the The NEWS, and UNITY Newspapers Frank Kposowa he normally received monies quarterly from the SLPP lead Government.  Kelvin Lewis of Awoko press some time after President Kabbah  restoration to power after the junta regime Pa Kabba has been sponsoring the  Awoko press but it is greatly rumour that they have fall apart.
As for  These news papers Editors actually received sponsors from the government of the SLPP. THIS HAS AFFECTED journalism in the country because these news papers are bent on praise singing only nor do they write objective thing s that will pursue the ills in soceity, which has distorted many developmental stories that will bring good to the nation in general.  this type of journalism has a great negative impact on the journalisticts practice  only few newspapers are independent  These news papers are not in the good books of some patriotic
Sierra leoneans.

 

SIERRA LEONEANS ARE TIRED OF SEEING EVERYTHING PASSING THEM BY

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2006

 

Wednesday March 22, 2006 :

When one looks at the promise that Liberia has suddenly become since she elected Dr. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as her President, one cannot  help but be disappointed by the snail pace at which Sierra Leone’s socio-economic and political reconstruction have been conducted since the election of the SLPP government of President  Ahmad Tejan Kabbah TEN YEARS AGO .

Ellen_Johnson-Sirleaf3

ELLEN JOHNSON-SIRLEAF

When one looks at the frenetic pace Liberia is going since she elected her first post-war democratic government only three months ago, it is safe to assume that a post-war Liberia in 10 years would be an Eldorado of Socio-economic and political renaissance , not the hopeless case that Sierra Leone has been ten years since she elected her first post-war democratic government. 

Liberia , in just three months of democratic rule , is talking about building a nation that will be the model and success story of Africa.  She is talking about switching the lights on soon. A master plan is already in force to reconstruct all her roads and the government is already talking about a socio-economic blueprint that will ensure economic revival in no time in Liberia.

KABBAH2

KABBAH: JUST BIG TALK 

With somebody of the commitment, seriousness and prudence of Dr. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf at the helm , the Liberians will accomplish it, except something dramatically disastrous happens , which we at COCORIOKO  are praying not to be.  .

The Liberians will accomplish it , not because they are more blessed than Sierra Leone. They will accomplish it because they have elected into power a government which,  by all indications, appears set to put the nation’s interest at the forefront. Dr Sirleaf demonstrated it when she drove to the Finance Ministry and dismissed everybody from that hub of Liberian corruption. She did the double by banning  from travelling all members of the interim government  she succeeded, until they had accounted  satisfactorily for their stewardship. She performed the impressive treble when she warned that corruption and her government will be a deadly mix .

Liberians will accomplish it because they have a President who is ready to take bold decisions in the supreme interest of her country. One can empathize with Dr. Sirleaf for  having  to eat humble pie by demanding the transfer of former President Charles  Taylor to Sierra Leone to face justice after initially emphasizing that it was not her priority. . She was quite right in her criticism of Nigeria’s President Olusegun Obasanjo and the UN that they should have turned Taylor over long ago instead of waiting for her to come and risk undermining the security of her new democracy by doing it. Dr. Sirleaf knows the dangers involved but because she wants to see the stakeholders and the U.S . help rebuild her country , she decided to take the bull by the horns. Faced with such a situation , would our President , Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, have moved with such swiftness and dispatch ? Would he have placed the interest of the nation over his many cronies ? We doubt that very much.

When corruption in Sierra Leone reached its nadir during Kabbah’s rule and the stakeholders and Britain raised an outcry and threatened to cut off aid if there was no crackdown, did President Kabbah comply ? Did he fire the corrupt elements in his government ? Did he put into motion any reforms aimed at nipping corruption in the bud ? Did he play ball with those who wanted to help us rebuild and develop our country ?

The problem with Sierra Leone is that we do not have serious people at the helm of administration . Sierra Leone elected her first post-. government 10 years ago , but what have we to show for it ? The country is in pitch darkness because there is no electricity . Our roads are about the most pot-holed , rugged  and impassable  in West Africa. Our bridges continue to be death-traps. Pipe-borne water is a luxury .  Our schools, colleges and universities have virtually fallen apart both academically and infrastructurally. .Every other man in the street is stark illiterate.  There is hardly any building even in the capital that has not become dilapedated . Food is scarce and very expensive and  people still go to bed hungry. “Suck Air ” has worsened than it was  during the APC  rule. There is not a  single good and equipped hospital in the country . Once famous and effective service-delivery hospitals like Masanga, Lunsar, Segbwema, Kamakwie and Serabu have all gone to the dogs. We have the highest post-natal death rate in the world . The mortality rate is at an all-time low of 45 years.

Everything is passing us by. And from all indications, the situation will not change and will only get worse until we elect into office people who will place the interest of the nation first .

 

 

A Seven Points Rejoinder to Mr. Jacob Jusu Saffa’s Laudations of the S.L.P.P. Government.

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2006

By our Correspondent

Wednesday March 22, 2006

15. Whereas every person in Sierra Leone is entitled to the fundamental human rights and freedoms of the individual, that is to say, has the right, whatever his race, tribe, place of origin, political opinion, colour, creed or sex, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest, to each and all of the following?

The bar is an excerpt of the National Constitution of Sierra Leone Act No. 6 of 1991, Chapter III?The Recognition and Protection of Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms of the Individual. For the purpose of this rejoinder, specifically, “Freedom of conscience, of expression and of assembly and association,” would be of concern. As a member of a transnational organization [African Union (AU)], the government of Sierra Leone is a signatory to Article 20.1 of the Banjul Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights of June 27, 1981, which states: “All peoples shall have the right to existence. They shall have the unquestionable and inalienable right to self- determination. They shall freely determine their political status and shall pursue their economic and social development according to the policy they have freely chosen.” As a member of an international organization, we will also introduce Article 20.1.2 of the 1948 General Assembly of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association. No one may be compelled to belong to an association.”

When the Secretary General of the ruling S.L.P.P., Mr. Jacob Jusu Saffa questioned the freedom of association of another citizen is an intent to violate the above charters or he simply does not understand the national, transnational and international Fundamental Human Rights charters. A good-sense approach would be to hurry up to the seven pointless laudations of the S.L.P.P. government he raised. However, we have opted, for the sake of good citizenry, to serve as surrogates. Mr. Saffa must read the above declarations?they are fundamentals of politics. What we cannot help him with is his intent to violate another citizen’s right of association.

But we can also update Mr. Saffa on other matters pertaining to politics in Sierra Leone before we proceed to the issues he raised: Sierra Leone was a single party system state from 1978 to 1995. Many politicians, during that period, belonged to the All Peoples Party (A.P.C.). Only few politicians, who have pride and did not share the single party ideal, quit politics altogether. The decade-long rebel war began in 1991 when rebels attacked the eastern border towns of Sierra Leone with Liberia. Up to 1996, we have been at war or under military dictatorship. Many politicians left the A.P.C. mainly because it was blamed for creating the conditions for war through bad governance. Honorable Tamu Bangura died along with the Peoples Democratic Party (P.D.P.) Mr. Saffa alleged Mr. Dauda Tombo Bangura once belonged. Well, for the records, Mr. Saffa had a dream of forming his own political party, and many meetings were held at Stop Press. When that failed, he joined Mr. Bangura who was then a member of the Grand Alliance Party (GAP), and there is an indication, according Peep tabloid, that he has not tendered his resignation with GAP. Nonetheless, the two were only expressing their freedom of association. Upon what a strong S.L.P.P. presidential aspirant, former Ambassador JohnEarnest Leigh called “Conbention”, referring to the alleged political machination that placed Vice President Berewa at the top of the S.L.P.P. ticket for president in 2007; Mr. Dauda Tombo Bangura joined Charles Margai to answer the marginalized citizens of Sierra Leone’s call for a “Positive Change.”

It takes a man with courage to resist the temptation of joining an established undemocratic process, especially in Africa where it often has the upper hand in politics, and start a grassroots movement. Mr. Saffa or Mr. Bangura, which one of the two has the moral right and authority of the accusation of flip-flopping? After what happened in Makeni, only the blind loyalists of the S.L.P.P. stayed. Although the personal attack on another citizen’s Fundamental Human Rights does not worth the attention we have given it, however, we have contributed greatly to a betterSierra Leone by serving as surrogates, lest we could have dismissed the baseless accusation as childish and go straight on to address the issues.

The SLPP has brought peace to this country and is consolidating the gains:Categorically, this is a fallacy Mr. Saffa. A recount of events that led to peace in Sierra Leonewould prove that you are wrong. This cannot be accomplished without starting with the August 1994 National Consultative Conference at Bintumani, where the elections for February 1996 were scheduled.

Sierra Leoneans, including President Kabbah, were helpless when Captain Strasser raised security reasons to stall the elections schedule had it not been for Brigadier-General Julius Maada Bio who replaced him as NPRC Chairman in a coup, and made a pronouncement to keep to the elections schedule. Bio too reconvened a second Bintumani Conference to try to postpone the elections schedule, which was met by an overwhelming opposition to go ahead.

 

In March 17, 1996, President Kabbah was declared the winner of the elections after rerun elections. In March 25 and 26, Bio and the rebel leader, Foday Sankoh, met in Yamoussoukro,Cote d’Ivoire that led to a short-lived cease-fire. President Kabbah and Sankoh start peace talks on April 1996 in Yamoussoukro after Bio transferred power to the S.L.P.P. on March 29, 1996. The Yamoussoukro peace failed because President Kabbah would not redraw the service of the notorious South African based Executive Outcomes mercenary fighters.

 

All subsequent peace talks President Kabbah went into with the rebels failed, not withstanding the $1.8 million a month payment for a 100-man contingent and two helicopters to Executive Outcomes. The nation inflation rose to 35 per cent. Meanwhile, the soldiers were not being paid, their rice ration was not forthcoming and they became disgruntled. Is one of several President Kabbah’s leadership bungles that provided the need for the largest peacekeeping UN-contingent in the world?17,600 strong force. Is this state of condition?disgruntleness in the army that Major Johnny Paul would take advantage of to chase President Kabbah out to theRepublic of Guinea. He left the people in the hands and mercy of the brutal Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (A.F.R.C.) junta. President Kabbah would admit over the BBC Focus onAfrica magazine that he knew of the coup three weeks ahead. This is what the former British High Commissioner, Peter Penfold, confirmed recently in Freetown in the Special Court trial of Chief Hinga Norman.

This same chronic forgetfulness is making it possible for the S.L.P.P. leadership to sit by and watch its people languish in Yenga and Kalangba in the hands of Guinean soldiers, while Mr. Saffa speaks of the S.L.P.P. is “consolidating the gains.” According to Awareness Time newspaper of March 7, 2006: “A large contingent of heavily armed operatives of the Guinean Armed Forces (GAF), over the weekend attacked a town, Kalangba, situated in the Kambia district, laying claim to it and holding the inhabitants of the township to ransom.” They seized the operation of the mines that provide revenue for our struggling economy and ran off the workers.

In spite of such threatening reports, Mr. Saffa behaves like Squealer in George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”, who always has logical, but not honest and truthful explanation for every bad thing that happens on the farm, following the concerted effort by the animals to expel Mr. Jones and later Snowball?the revolution is over; it now in its tenth year, and Mr. Saffa has become the self-appointed spokesman for the S.L.P.P. But we will warn Mr. Saffa that when the people speak in 2007, the same Lemuel Gulliver, the big man in Lilliput, becomes miniature man in Brobdingnag.

 

One would ask the following question; why is Mr. Saffa not worried about the destruction of houses without compensation that is underway in Freetown in the name of road construction? According to an anonymous source in Freetown, houses under construction are being demolished by Vice President Berewa’s order. The recent acquisitions of these lands indicate that someone in the S.L.P.P. government sold them to the citizens?some corrupt S.L.P.P. leader in the Ministry of Works, Housing and Technical Maintenance. But the S.L.P.P. government claims that the houses were build on government land designated for road construction as if the people took upon themselves to build houses hither thither in the city.

What is more, the S.L.P.P. leadership, always, manifests this same false determination for development in Sierra Leone right around elections. No wonder the Presidential Spokesman, Mr. Kanji Daramy, several months ago, stated that one of President Kabbah’s promises to the people to be accomplished by 2007 is a bridge across Targreen. When Vice President Berewa becomes the champion of road construction in Sierra Leone? Another warning for the S.L.P.P. government is that this breed of Sierra Leoneans are no more gullible?they know these things?they hear late Bob Marley reechoes late Abraham Lincoln; “You can fool somepeople sometimes, but you can’t fool all the people all the time,” on their small stereos everyday. No one is going to fool them this time, for they are listening closely to the fierce wind of “Positive Change” that is blowing.

 

Good governance including local government reforms: The S.L.P.P. leadership can boast of excessive corruption, not good governance. They have been brainstorming over what to do with government for ten years without substantial results. The S.L.P.P. leadership, in many cases, in the absence of good leadership, is resorting to high-handed rule. There have been many reports on bad governance from Sierra Leone. From the death and imprisonment of journalists, manipulation of elections to foot-dragging of the registration of political parties. These kinds of actions are only possible in an undemocratic society, in which bad governance is the norm. Recently, the joint expression of concern by foreign governments and international organizations over the stalling of the registration of political parties by the S.L.P.P. leadership was prompted by such observation of bad governance.

 

Local government reforms and decentralization has been a paper reform since its launching by President Kabbah in 2003. The S.L.P.P. leadership cannot point to any substantive development or progress because of local government reforms and decentralization. Only when it works in favor of the S.L.P.P. in gaining votes?recently, Vice President Berewa traveled to the provinces and dished out money without any development plan for the way the money would be used in the benefits the masses, pointing to decentralization for a reason to do so. Decentralization of local government does not call for a reckless disbursement of central government funds to local authorities without an agenda to benefit the public. But by doing so, Vice President Berewa would be killing two birds with one stone regardless of how the money would be used?to buy the favors of the paramount chiefs in 2007 elections and lining their pockets.

 

Local government reforms and decentralization is nary a reform: President Kabbah traveled in the provinces in 2003, telling the local authorities how to keep an eye on people traveling in their territories as it is done in Libya and former USSR under Lenin. When it came to the most important issue, the land tenure system that is stunting growth in the provinces, in the country and alienating another sector of the community in their own country? the Creoles, President Kabbah promised to look into it. “This matter has been spoken about a lot. It is my view that the prevailing system of land tenure in the provinces be discussed openly to enable Government to arrive at a definitive policy position as to whether the system should remain as it is or whether some modification needs to be made in it,” he said in his 2003 tour of the provinces. Where is the reform then, when nothing came out of it since?

 

Let us look at the present land tenure system. Notice the phrase “any non-native”?it is discriminatory. These fertile lands can become source of plenty of food and employment for the people rather than laying fallow to subsistence farming that cannot fully exploit the potential of the land:

“In the Provinces, land is in family ownership, and by definition in the ownership of the community which is headed by a Paramount Chief. Thus, land cannot be alienated to any non-native unless with the consent of the Paramount Chief and his Councilors. They are the trustees of such lands. The term “Non-native” is defined to mean any person who does not belong to a provincial tribe. Therefore, the restriction on the alienation of provincial land does not apply to persons belonging to tribes in the provinces. In order to remove the obvious exclusion of persons of Western Area origin, you may say that it is necessary to expand the definition of non-natives to include all Sierra Leoneans while retaining the general restriction on the outright disposal or alienation of provincial land in any case. This may be a way of giving further meaning to our “one country, and people” policy.”

 

It is an oxymoron when President Kabbah said: “A prospective investor wishing to invest in agriculture, may, for instance enter into a joint venture arrangement with a land- owning family whereby the share of the investment on the part of the land owners would be the land itself with a notional value put on it which they would make available while the prospective investor’s share would be the machines and other inputs also properly valued. The profits realized from the enterprise can be distributed in accordance with the values placed on the respective contributions to the capital of the joint venture.”

It means that diamonds drop into the pockets of the investors, not from the land.  (please explain further – a bit confusing) (can we rephrase thus..)  It means that diamonds drop into the pockets of the investors as if from the sea; with no consideration of where they come from.  One tends to ask What is the value placed on the land from which diamonds are being excavated? Instead, the Koidu Holdings is foot-dragging the building of the houses of the peasants that live in the Tankoro Chiefdom Kimberlite area. They run for their lives when the siren goes off to blast the granite to extract diamonds. The S.L.P.P. leadership, at the least, cannot get the Koidu Holdings to embark on safe mining policies while they are yet to build the houses of the residents in a different location.

 

I know these things because I hail from Saquee Town in the hearts of the Kimberlite craters, not ones made by meteorite, but by constant explosion, sending out meteorites to kill the people: I have witnessed my mother’s house being damaged by kimberlite rocks two times; I have seen my cousin for the last time, her brain spilled over her shoulders by the kimberlite rock [during the NDMC]; I have heard of a police woman of the Tankoro police station being killed by the kimberlite rock; I have heard of families living their lunch and dinner on fire, running for their lives, hard earned food going bad before they returned after the blasting [same conditions under the Koidu Holdings]. Above all, my poor mother told me that the Koidu Holdings would replace her seven-room house with a three-room shanty. It means that she would have more than four people per room with her nine children and many grandchildren. Nevertheless, when the S.L.P.P. Mr. Saffa talks of good governance, the peasant does not matter to him. It is natural that one prominent S.L.P.P. called the same suffering people; “Low grade noisemakers – san san boys, honda drivers, ex-combatants, carwash boys, etc.”

 

Security sector reforms: The UNDP Security Sector Reform program among other things includes disarmament, demobilization and reintegration. These are the main aspects of the program, and it is not an S.L.P.P. program?the government does not have a choice in the absence of a program of its own, but accept the United Nations’ conditionality for development in exchange for aide. It is understood that the reintegration is a failure. This needs no scientific proof. All it takes is a visit to the capital city, Freetown, to learn how miserably this aspect of the security sector reforms has failed. Ex-military and rebel combatants are the most disgruntled sector of the society today. The child soldier has become an empty phrase in Sierra Leone. Make no mistake there is a serious threat of a leadership vacuum in Sierra Leone if the state of the mind of the youth sector is not addressed and very quickly. Once the international players left the scene, all the progress stopped. A large number of the military was retired. There is no problem in retiring people at retirement age, but what justifies the sudden retirement of a large number of our fighting force. This was very myopic on the part of the S.L.P.P. leadership. We were lucky that the average Sierra Leonean has resort to peaceful solution, lest a likely condition to threaten the hard earned peace.

No sooner the British head of the police force left, it returned to it old self?Charles Margai was arrested and jailed before any investigation to link him to the unrest that led to the threat of violence against the Vice President Berewa at the CKC Thanksgiving ceremony in Bo, the second largest city in Sierra Leone. President Kabbah knew of the arrest of Omrie Golley before the Inspector General of the Police did?he announced the arrest as if he were the police officer who conducted the investigation of the alleged crime?this is a clear manifestation that an order to arrest Omrie Golley came from above for reasons yet unknown as the case is still in court. Berewa has become the demolition man in Freetown?he is going about ordering the demolition of houses without compensation plan. The unemployed condition of the youth population is at its worst. Thousands of child soldiers are still roaming the streets of Freetownuncured. When Chris Robertson, the head of Save the Children Fund stated that “These atrocious actions have placed the youth population at risk, if not attended to, that may lead to a leadership vacuum in Sierra Leone,” cannot be taken for granted. The people of Yenga and Kalagba are being treated by Guinean soldiers as if they have no protection from their government.

 

Stabilize the economy and has a robust agenda for private sector development: There is no agenda for private sector development. How could there be an agenda for private sector development when the land is on chains in the hands of subsistent farmers who do not have the technological expertise or the capital to exploit fully the land in the benefit of the masses? Is Mr. Saffa’s private sector limited to giving up public utilities bestowing apparatus to western investors? Sierra Leone‘s private sector is the most undeveloped in the world. Majority of the jobs are government jobs, nothing has changed. In fact the teachers, 17,000 are being paid by the UN?development program that has placed a cap on how much teachers there should be in the classrooms. Below is the synopsis of the economy that Mr. Saffa has claimed has been stabilized:

“The 2004 budget is weak on proposing structural reform and the IMF has recommended greater fiscal discipline. The government projects that domestic revenue will total Le333.2bn (US$127m) in 2004 and total expenditure LE839.7bn, resulting in a fiscal deficit of 24.4% of GDP excluding grants. The Economist Intelligence Unit believes that these figures are optimistic, and that both revenue and spending will be lower. Revenue will rise in 2004 compared to 2003, as tax revenue increases in line with the establishment of more businesses and the management difficulties in the new National Revenue Authority are ironed out. However,Sierra Leone’s porous borders, and the associated loss of revenue through smuggling (particularly of diamonds), will continue to limit revenue growth. There will be continued pressure to increase spending, given the huge rehabilitation and rebuilding work being undertaken following the war, but delays in disbursals from donors will create a funding shortfall. We forecast that the overall fiscal deficit (on a cash basis including grants) will remain at around 9% of GDP during 2005-06, which will be met through domestic borrowing.” (The Economic Intelligence Unit Country Report December 2004)

No government officer in his right mind would call the economic situation above stabilized economy.

 

Food security: Except that Mr. Saffa is proud of the imported food to feed, about five million people living in a country abound by some of the most fertile and follow lands of the world. There has been nary a plan in the past ten years for Sierra Leone to achieve self-sustenance in food production. Until we can feed ourselves, the UNDP food security program does not mean a thing. It is not something, of which a government can be boastful. We have waited for ten years on the S.L.P.P. with nary a plan on how to cultivate those vast meadows lying barren across the nation, those fertile hilly lands in wants of rice seedlings, and those planes that are ready for anything that wants to grow on them. Nevertheless, the S.L.P.P. government chose to keep most of the members of the healthy sector of the population in Freetown, where they fight for some of the looted money to trickle down in their pockets. But if one pushes such idea to hard, the S.L.P.P. government would not create incentives for the people to go back home in the provinces peacefully at their will, they would load them in trucks like animals and bring them to nothing as they did before. It has become apparent that the S.L.P.P. is clueless when it comes to leadership. In a recent debate in Maryland, a highly ranked S.L.P.P. official referred to food security as a measure to protect food from being poisoned. These people often end up in theSierra Leone government as ministers upon raising much Diaspora funds to support party politics.

 

Education: Mr. Saffa’s words are the best response for his fallacy: “the SLPP has improved school enrollment, which, he says has quadrupled since 1996 with pressure created for additional teachers and classrooms. ?This is what government is currently addressing.'” First, schools were in non-existence status, especially in the provinces, before 1996. It means that school enrollment would naturally increase after the war. And a good government would have foreseen the need for more classrooms and teachers because many of the facilities had become casualties of war. A good government would have foreseen the upsurge of school enrollment and properly prepare for the needs of the students. Here, Mr. Saffa is telling us that the S.L.P.P., like always, was unprepared for or was clueless of the increase in school enrollment following an absolute non-existence of schools in the recent past. School enrollment in the last ten years would certainly quadruple because children have been fighting for their lives, which is more important than going to school. They have all decided to enroll back in schools, many who have been schooling in displacement camps have returned only to find out that their government is not prepared for the upsurge in school enrollment in the aftermath of war. This statement by Mr. Saffa is quite revealing?no wonder we hear of constant inadequacy in school supplies and teachers’ demonstration for non-payment of salaries.

 

Health: Sierra Leone has the worst health facilities in the world. Recently, I read in an article that Sierra Leone is the only country in the world where pregnant women are transported in wheelbarrows to the nearest medical centers for child delivery. There is no future for the children of Sierra Leone under these deplorable conditions with no fundamental human rights to free emergency medical care for anyone especially the poor and needy.  Even with the massive donor funds, the health sector is still lacking. The corruption in Sierra Leone can only be explained in terms of what one writer calls a money Bermuda triangle, where money disappears as soon as it arrives. 

 

Until the fierce wind of “Positive Change” that is now faltering the speeches of the likes of Mr. Saffa blows the S.L.P.P. away, progress in neighboring Liberia with the leadership of Sirleaf Johnson would take place in leaps and bounds over Sierra Leone’s. In his agenda booklet for the S.L.P.P. Secretary General Position in the Makeni convention, Mr. Saffa wrote; “Strengthening the democratic values of the party: The SLPP is well known for its democratic values. It was the first political party to lose a multi-party election in 1967.  Elections are held at all levels. I will therefore uphold and strengthen these values.  Specifically, I will develop clear guidelines for the conduct of elections at all levels and regularly inform members of democratic values.” Nonetheless, it is a proven fact that those who cannot rise above a turbulent wind like the eagle tempt to fight with it. We have however taken upon ourselves to remind Mr. Saffa of his own words in the process of fighting with the wind of “Positive Change.” Because, it is scaring the way he is becoming worried about the political position of those who have the strength to flow with the fierce wind of “Positive Change.”

 

Because of these empty laudations and forgetfulness that is so common amongst the S.L.P.P. leaders, I begin to muse whether the then Sierra Leone Head of Mission to the United Nations, Mr. Ibrahim M. Kamara was only blowing out hot air when he made the following statement in a Sierra Leone Diaspora meeting in Virginia State University, USA, in 2001: “January 6, 1999, and all the other tragic incidents of the rebel war have taught us a lesson. They will forever strengthen our resolve to rebuild our nation, and moreover to uphold the pledge that forthwith, we shall refrain from the use of threat of use of armed force to bring about any change in our beloved country.”

 

 

A Seven-Point Rejoinder to Mr. Jacob Jusu Saffa’s Laudations of the S.L.P.P. Government

Tuesday, March 21st, 2006
 

Posted by Karamoh Kabba ] on March 21, 2006

A Seven-Point Rejoinder to Mr. Jacob Jusu Saffa’s Laudations of the S.L.P.P. Government

By Karamoh Kabba?P.M.D.C. USA & Moijue Kai Kai?P.M.D.C. England/Ireland

“15. Whereas every person in Sierra Leone is entitled to the fundamental human rights and freedoms of the individual, that is to say, has the right, whatever his race, tribe, place of origin, political opinion, colour, creed or sex, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest, to each and all of the following?”

The bar is an excerpt of the National Constitution of Sierra Leone Act No. 6 of 1991, Chapter III?The Recognition and Protection of Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms of the Individual. For the purpose of this rejoinder, specifically, “Freedom of conscience, of expression and of assembly and association,” would be of concern. As a member of a transnational organization [African Union (AU)], the government of Sierra Leone is a signatory to Article 20.1 of the Banjul Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights of June 27, 1981, which states: “All peoples shall have the right to existence. They shall have the unquestionable and inalienable right to self-determination. They shall freely determine their political status and shall pursue their economic and social development according to the policy they have freely chosen.” As a member of an international organization, we will also introduce Article 20.1.2 of the 1948 General Assembly of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association. No one may be compelled to belong to an association.”

When the Secretary General of the ruling S.L.P.P., Mr. Jacob Jusu Saffa questioned the freedom of association of another citizen was an intent to violate the above charters or he simply does not understand the national, transnational and international Fundamental Human Rights charters. A good-sense approach would be to hurry up to the seven pointless laudations of the S.L.P.P. government Mr. Saffa raised. However, we have opted, for the sake of good citizenry, to serve as surrogates. Mr. Saffa must read the above declarations?they are fundamentals of politics. What we cannot help him with is his intent to violate another citizen’s right of association.

But we can also update Mr. Saffa on other matters pertaining to politics in Sierra Leone before we proceed to the issues he raised: Sierra Leone was a single party system state from 1978 to 1995. Almost all the politicians, during that period, belonged to the All Peoples Party (A.P.C.). Only few politicians, who do not share the single party ideal, quit politics altogether or suspended their participation in politics.

The decade-long rebel war began in 1991 when rebels attacked the eastern border towns of Sierra Leone with Liberia. Up to 1996, we have been at war or under military dictatorship. Many politicians left the A.P.C. mainly because it was blamed for creating the conditions for war through bad governance. Honorable Thaimu Bangura died along with the Peoples Democratic Party (P.D.P.) he found, the party Mr. Saffa alleged Mr. Dauda Tombo Bangura once belonged. Record shows that Mr. Bangura, in fact, championed the transactional politics that ensued in 1996, in the second round of elections, in favor of the S.L.P.P. when it fell short of the 55 per cent that was needed to win the elections in the first round. Upon considering that S.L.P.P. would be the right leadership at that time, Mr. Bangura persuaded Thaimu Bangura to support the S.L.P.P. “I was the one who put the motion seconded by Hon Kemoh Sesay of the APC for PDP to support president Kabbah for the second round,” Mr. Bangura said.

Well, for the records, Mr. Saffa had a dream of having his own party, Democrat Party (DP), an effort that died a natural death at Stop Press social rendezvous. Being the founder and national Secretary General of the DP, show that Mr. Saffa lacks basic leadership and organizational skills. When that effort failed, he joined Mr. Bangura at the Grand Alliance Party (GAP), held an executive position, and there is an indication, according to Peep tabloid, that Mr. Saffa is yet to tender his resignation with GAP. Nonetheless, the two were only expressing their freedom of association when they feely moved between political parties. Upon what a strong S.L.P.P. presidential aspirant, former Ambassador John Leigh called “Conbention”, referring to the alleged political machination that placed Vice President Berewa at the top of the S.L.P.P. ticket for president in 2007; Mr. Dauda Tombo Bangura joined Charles Margai to answer the marginalized citizens of Sierra Leone’s call for a “Positive Change.”

It takes a man with courage to resist the temptation of joining an established undemocratic process, especially in Africa where it often has the upper hand in politics, and start a grassroots movement. Mr. Saffa or Mr. Bangura, which one of the two has the moral right and authority to accuse the other of flip-flopping? After what happened in Makeni, only the blind loyalists of the S.L.P.P. stayed. Although the personal attack on another citizen’s Fundamental Human Rights does not worth the attention we have given it, however, we have contributed greatly to a better Sierra Leone by serving as surrogates, lest we could have dismissed the baseless accusation as childish and go straight on to address the issues.

The SLPP has brought peace to this country and is consolidating the gains: Categorically, this is a fallacy. A recount of events that led to peace in Sierra Leone would prove that Mr. Saffa is wrong. This cannot be accomplished without starting with the August 1994 National Consultative Conference at Bintumani, where the elections for February 1996 were scheduled.
Sierra Leoneans, including President Kabbah, were helpless when Captain Strasser raised security reasons to stall the elections schedule had it not been for Brigadier-General Julius Maada Bio who replaced him as NPRC Chairman in a coup, and made a pronouncement to keep to the elections schedule. Bio too reconvened a second Bintumani Conference to try to postpone the elections schedule, which was met by an overwhelming opposition that forced him to go ahead.

In March 17, 1996, President Kabbah was declared the winner of the elections after rerun elections. In March 25 and 26, Bio and the rebel leader, Foday Sankoh, met in Yamoussoukro, Cote d’Ivoire that led to a short-lived cease-fire. President Kabbah and Sankoh started peace talks on April 1996 in Yamoussoukro after Bio transferred power to the S.L.P.P. on March 29, 1996. The Yamoussoukro peace failed because President Kabbah would not withdraw the service of the notorious South African based Executive Outcomes mercenary fighters.

 

The subsequent peace talks President Kabbah went into with the rebels failed, not withstanding the $1.8 million a month payment for a 100-man contingent and two helicopters to Executive Outcomes. The national inflation rose to 35 per cent. Meanwhile, the soldiers were not being paid, their rice ration was not forthcoming and they became disgruntled. Is one of several President Kabbah’s leadership bungles that provided the need for the largest peacekeeping UN-contingent in the world?17,600 strong force. This was the state of condition?disgruntleness in the army that Major Johnny Paul would take advantage of to chase President Kabbah out of Sierra Leone into the Republic of Guinea. He left the people in the hands and mercy of the brutal Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (A.F.R.C.) junta. President Kabbah would admit over the BBC Focus on Africa magazine that he knew of the coup three weeks ahead. This is what the former British High Commissioner, Peter Penfold, confirmed recently in Freetown in the Special Court trial of Chief Hinga Norman.

 

This same chronic forgetfulness is making it possible for the S.L.P.P. leadership to sit by and watch its people languish in Yenga and Kalangba in the hands of Guinean soldiers, while Mr. Saffa speaks of the S.L.P.P. is “consolidating the gains.” According to Awareness Times newspaper publication of March 7, 2006: “A large contingent of heavily armed operatives of the Guinean Armed Forces (GAF), over the weekend attacked a town, Kalangba, situated in the Kambia district, laying claim to it and holding the inhabitants of the township to ransom.” They ceased the operation of the mining there that provides much needed revenue for our struggling economy, employment for the local people and ran them off.

In spite of such threatening reports, Mr. Saffa behaves like Squealer in George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”, who always has logical, but not honest and truthful explanation for every bad thing that happens on the farm, following the concerted effort by the animals to expel Mr. Jones and later Snowball?the revolution is over; it now in its tenth year, and Mr. Saffa has become the self-appointed spokesman for the S.L.P.P. But we will warn Mr. Saffa that when the people speak in 2007, the same Lemuel Gulliver, the big man in Lilliput, would become a miniature man in Brobdingnag.

 

One would ask the following question; why is Mr. Saffa not worried about the destruction of houses without compensation that is underway in Freetown in the name of road construction? According to an anonymous source in Freetown, houses under construction are being demolished by Vice President Berewa’s order. The recent acquisitions of these lands indicate that someone in the S.L.P.P. government sold them to the citizens?some corrupt S.L.P.P. leader in the Ministry of Works, Housing and Technical Maintenance. But the S.L.P.P. government claims that the houses were built on government land designated for road construction as if the people took upon themselves to build houses hither thither in the city.

What is more, the S.L.P.P. leadership, always, manifests this same false determination for development in Sierra Leone when elections are near. No wonder the Presidential Spokesman, Mr. Kanji Daramy, several months ago, stated that one of President Kabbah’s promises to the people to be accomplished by 2007 is a bridge across Targrin. When did Vice President Berewa becomes the champion of road construction in Sierra Leone? Another warning for the S.L.P.P. government is that this breed of Sierra Leoneans are no more gullible?they know these things?they hear late Bob Marley reechoes late Abraham Lincoln; “You can fool some people sometimes, but you can’t fool all the people all the time,” on their small stereos everyday. No one is going to fool them this time, for they are listening closely to the fierce wind of “Positive Change” that is blowing.

Good governance including local government reforms: The S.L.P.P. leadership can boast of excessive corruption, not good governance. They have been brainstorming over what to do with government for ten years without substantial results. The S.L.P.P. leadership, in many cases, in the absence of good leadership, is resorting to high-handed rule. There have been many reports on bad governance from Sierra Leone. From the death and imprisonment of journalists, manipulation of elections to foot-dragging of the registration of political parties.

As early as yesterday, March 20, 2006 a journalist, the editor for the Concord Times Newspaper was detained in Freetown. The newspaper’s Abdul Karim Koroma sends us the following report today, March 21: “Police personnel from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Monday arrested and detained the Editor of Concord Times newspaper and Correspondent of Star Radio in Liberia, Sahr Musa Yamba. The arrest was unexplained and the officers who effected it say it was on the instruction of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Fredrick Carew.”

These kinds of actions are only possible in an undemocratic society, where bad governance is the norm. Recently, the joint expression of concern by foreign governments and international organizations over the stalling of the registration of political parties by the S.L.P.P. leadership was prompted by such observation of bad governance.
Local government reforms and decentralization has been a paper reform so far. It is too early for the S.L.P.P. government to take any credit for it. There is nothing to show since its launching by President Kabbah in 2003. The S.L.P.P. leadership cannot point to any substantive development or progress because of local government reforms and decentralization. It has only worked so far in favor of the S.L.P.P. in gaining votes?recently, Vice President Berewa traveled to the provinces and dished out money without any development plan for the way the money would be used in the benefits of the masses, pointing to decentralization for a reason to do so. Decentralization does not call for a reckless disbursement of central government funds to local authorities without an agenda to benefit the public. But by doing so, Vice President Berewa would be killing two birds with one stone regardless of how the money would be used?to buy the favors of the paramount chiefs in 2007 elections and to line their pockets.

The policy of local government reforms and decentralization is nary a reform: President Kabbah traveled in the provinces in 2003, telling the local authorities how to keep an eye on strangers who visit their territories as in Libya and former USSR under Lenin. What is more he made it clear to the local authorities only to keep track of strangers with no regards to the actual customary significance of the practice of welcoming strangers. “In considering this idea, the Chiefs may wish, in this day and age, to consider dropping the ?greeting-kola’ tradition from the custom,” he said. As if to say, “Just do the policing, culture is irrelevant,” failing to realize that the tradition of welcoming strangers in a friendly and honorary manner in the custom is not about policing the strangers. It only turns out that the simple tenet of “know your enemy” always works, and the custom serves as protection for the people.
This is what scholars observed and recommended to help keep the peace. Several years later after the war, President Kabbah destroys the whole essence when he asked that the people drop the human aspect of the custom. And one principal in the Pujehun District would surely take advantage of it to think that he could stop another citizen from attending a public occasion when he stopped Charles Margai from attending a school spot event in Pujehun.

When he came to dealing with the most important issue, the land tenure system that is stunting growth in the provinces President Kabbah promised to look into it. “This matter has been spoken about a lot. It is my view that the prevailing system of land tenure in the provinces be discussed openly to enable Government to arrive at a definitive policy position as to whether the system should remain as it is or whether some modification needs to be made in it,” he said in his 2003 tour of the provinces. Where is the reform then, when nothing came out of it since?

Let us look at the present land tenure system. Notice the phrase “any non-native”?it is discriminatory. These fertile lands can become source of plenty of food and employment for the people rather than laying fallow to subsistence farming that cannot fully exploit the potential of the land:

“In the Provinces, land is in family ownership, and by definition in the ownership of the community which is headed by a Paramount Chief. Thus, land cannot be alienated to any non-native unless with the consent of the Paramount Chief and his Councilors. They are the trustees of such lands. The term “Non-native” is defined to mean any person who does not belong to a provincial tribe. Therefore, the restriction on the alienation of provincial land does not apply to persons belonging to tribes in the provinces. In order to remove the obvious exclusion of persons of Western Area origin, you may say that it is necessary to expand the definition of non-natives to include all Sierra Leoneans while retaining the general restriction on the outright disposal or alienation of provincial land in any case. This may be a way of giving further meaning to our “one country, and people” policy.”

It is an oxymoron when President Kabbah said: “A prospective investor wishing to invest in agriculture, may, for instance enter into a joint venture arrangement with a land- owning family whereby the share of the investment on the part of the land owners would be the land itself with a notional value put on it which they would make available while the prospective investor’s share would be the machines and other inputs also properly valued. The profits realized from the enterprise can be distributed in accordance with the values placed on the respective contributions to the capital of the joint venture.”

It means that diamonds drop into the pockets of investors from the sky, not dug from the land. Thus, one tends to ask, what notional value is being placed on the land from which diamonds are being excavated? Instead, the Koidu Holdings is foot-dragging the building of the houses of the peasants that live in the Tankoro Chiefdom Kimberlite area. They run for their lives when the siren goes off to blast the granite to extract diamonds. The S.L.P.P. leadership, at the least, cannot get the Koidu Holdings to embark on safe mining policies while they are yet to build the houses of the residents in a different locat1on.

I [Karamoh Kabba] know these things because I hail from Saquee Town in the hearts of the Kimberlite craters, not ones made by meteorites, but by constant explosions, sending out meteorites to kill the people: I have witnessed my mother’s house being damaged by kimberlite rocks two times; I have seen my cousin for the last time, her brain spilled over her shoulders by the kimberlite rock [during the NDMC]; I have heard of a police woman of the Tankoro police station who was killed by the kimberlite rock; I have heard of families living their lunch and dinner on fire, running for their lives, hard earned food going bad before they returned after the blasting [same conditions under the Koidu Holdings].

Above all, my poor mother told me that the Koidu Holdings would replace her seven-room house with a three-room shanty. It means that she would have more than four people per room with her nine children and many grandchildren. Nevertheless, when the S.L.P.P. Mr. Saffa talks of good governance, the peasant does not matter to him. It is natural that one prominent S.L.P.P. called the same suffering people; “Low grade noisemakers – san san boys, honda drivers, ex-combatants, carwash boys, etc.”

Security sector reforms: The UNDP Security Sector Reform program among other things includes disarmament, demobilization and reintegration. These are the main aspects of the program, and it is not an S.L.P.P. program?the government does not have a choice in the absence of a program of its own, but accept the United Nations’ conditionality for development in exchange for aide. It is understood that the reintegration is a failure. This needs no scientific proof. All it takes is a visit to the capital city, Freetown, to learn how miserably this aspect of the security sector reforms has failed. Ex-military and rebel combatants are the most disgruntled sector of the society today. The child soldier has become an empty Sierra Leone and international journalistic phraseology.

Make no mistake there is a serious threat of a leadership vacuum in Sierra Leone if the state of the mind of the youth sector is not addressed and very quickly. Once the international players left the scene, all the progress stopped. A large number of the military was retired. There is no problem with retiring workers at retirement age, but what justifies the sudden retirement of a large number of our fighting force. This was very myopic on the part of the S.L.P.P. leadership. We were lucky that the average Sierra Leonean has resort to peaceful solution, lest it was a likely condition to threaten the hard-earned peace.

No sooner the British head of the police force left, it returned to it old self?Charles Margai was arrested and jailed before any investigation to link him to the unrest that led to the threat of violence against the Vice President Berewa at the CKC Thanksgiving ceremony in Bo, the second largest city in Sierra Leone. President Kabbah announced the arrest of Omrie Golley before the Inspector General of the Police knew about it?he announced the arrest as if he were the police officer who conducted the investigation of the alleged crime?this is a clear manifestation that an order to arrest Omrie Golley came from above for reasons yet unknown as the case is still in court. These are indications that the police and military training sector of the security reform program too is a failure.

Berewa has become the demolition man in Freetown?he is going about ordering the demolition of houses without compensation plan. The unemployed condition of the youth population is at its worst. Thousands of child soldiers are still roaming the streets of Freetown uncured. When Chris Robertson, the head of Save the Children Fund stated that “These atrocious actions have placed the youth population at risk, if not attended to, that may lead to a leadership vacuum in Sierra Leone,” cannot be taken for granted. The people of Yenga and Kalangba are being treated by Guinean soldiers as if they have no protection from their government.

Stabilize the economy and has a robust agenda for private sector development: Sierra Leone strives on palliative economy from the World Bank and IMF. There is no agenda for private sector development. How could there be an agenda for private sector development when the land is on chains in the hands of subsistent farmers who do not have the technological expertise or the capital to exploit fully the land in the benefit of the masses? Is Mr. Saffa’s private sector limited to giving up public utilities bestowing apparatus to western investors? Sierra Leone’s private sector is the most undeveloped in the world. Majority of the jobs are government jobs, nothing has changed. In fact the teachers, 17,000 are being paid by the UN?development program that has placed a cap on how much teachers there should be in the classrooms. Below is the synopsis of the economy that Mr. Saffa has claimed has been stabilized:
“The 2004 budget is weak on proposing structural reform and the IMF has recommended greater fiscal discipline. The government projects that domestic revenue will total Le333.2bn (US$127m) in 2004 and total expenditure LE839.7bn, resulting in a fiscal deficit of 24.4% of GDP excluding grants. The Economist Intelligence Unit believes that these figures are optimistic, and that both revenue and spending will be lower. Revenue will rise in 2004 compared to 2003, as tax revenue increases in line with the establishment of more businesses and the management difficulties in the new National Revenue Authority are ironed out. However, Sierra Leone’s porous borders, and the associated loss of revenue through smuggling (particularly of diamonds), will continue to limit revenue growth. There will be continued pressure to increase spending, given the huge rehabilitation and rebuilding work being undertaken following the war, but delays in disbursals from donors will create a funding shortfall. We forecast that the overall fiscal deficit (on a cash basis including grants) will remain at around 9% of GDP during 2005-06, which will be met through domestic borrowing.” (The Economic Intelligence Unit Country Report December 2004)

No government official in his right mind would call the economic situation above stabilized economy.
Food security: Food security is a pie in the sky, except for Mr. Saffa and the S.L.P.P. government who capitalize on the UNDP food security program, from imported food, to feed about five million people in a country abound by some of the most fertile and follow lands of the world. Food security is measured by a country’s capacity to produce or acquire the staple food of a nation and then some for export. The exponential increase in the price and sometimes shortage of rice since the S.L.P.P. came into power is a proof that Mr. Saffa’s food security claim is a fallacy. Subsistence farming for family sustenance and then some to grow again the following year cannot be considered as food security. There has been nary a plan in the past ten years for Sierra Leone to achieve self-sustenance in food production. Until we can feed ourselves, the UNDP food security program does not mean a thing. It is like a person on crutches?the World Bank and the IMF being the pair of crutches. If the crutches are removed before the person gets better, s/he collapses. That is the future of Sierra Leone without a real food security in the proper meaning of the phrase.

What we have now is not something of which a government can be boastful. In ten years, the S.L.P.P. has nary a plan to cultivate those vast meadows lying barren across the nation, those fertile hilly lands in want of rice seedlings, and those planes that are ready for anything that wants to grow on them. Nevertheless, the S.L.P.P. government chose to keep most of the members of the healthy sector of the population in Freetown, where they fight for some of the looted money to trickle down in their pockets. But if one pushes such idea of reintegration of the people into their towns and villages too hard, the S.L.P.P. government would not create incentives for the people to go back home in the provinces peacefully at their will, they would load them in trucks like animals and send them to nothing as they did before. Thus, it has become apparent that the S.L.P.P. is clueless when it comes to leadership. In a recent debate in Maryland, a highly ranked S.L.P.P. official referred to food security as a measure to protect food from being poisoned. These people often end up in the Sierra Leone government as ministers upon raising much Diaspora funds to support party politics.

Education: Mr. Saffa’s words are the best response for his fallacy: “the SLPP has improved school enrollment, which, he says has quadrupled since 1996 with pressure created for additional teachers and classrooms. ?This is what government is currently addressing.'” First, schools were in non-existence status, especially in the provinces, before 1996. It means that school enrollment would naturally increase after the war. And a good government would have foreseen the need for more classrooms and teachers because many of the facilities had become casualties of war. A good government would have foreseen the upsurge of school enrollment and properly prepare for the needs of the students. Here, Mr. Saffa is telling us that the S.L.P.P., like always, was unprepared for or was clueless of the increase in school enrollment following an absolute non-existence of schools in the recent past. School enrollment in the last ten years would certainly quadruple because children have been fighting for their lives, which is more important than going to school. They have all decided to enroll back in schools, many who have been schooling in displacement camps have returned only to find out that their government is not prepared for the upsurge in school enrollment in the aftermath of war. This statement by Mr. Saffa is quite revealing?no wonder we hear of constant inadequacy in school supplies and teachers’ demonstration for non-payment of salaries.

Health: Sierra Leone has the worst health facilities in the world. Recently, I read in an article that Sierra Leone is the only country in the world where pregnant women are transported in wheelbarrows to the nearest medical centers for child delivery. There is no future for the children of Sierra Leone under these prevailing deplorable conditions. Even with the massive donor funds, the health sector is still lacking. The corruption in Sierra Leone can only be explained in terms of what one writer calls a money Bermuda triangle, where money disappears as soon as it arrives. No wonder the average Sierra Leonean has any medical emergency facility and diagnostic apparatus.

Conclusion: Until the fierce wind of “Positive Change” that is now wavering the speeches of the likes of Mr. Saffa blows the S.L.P.P. away, progress in neighboring Liberia with the leadership of Sirleaf Johnson would take place in leaps and bounds over Sierra Leone’s. In his agenda booklet for the S.L.P.P. Secretary General Position in the Makeni convention, Mr. Saffa wrote; “Strengthening the democratic values of the party: The SLPP is well known for its democratic values. It was the first political party to lose a multi-party election in 1967. Elections are held at all levels. I will therefore uphold and strengthen these values. Specifically, I will develop clear guidelines for the conduct of elections at all levels and regularly inform members of democratic values.” Nonetheless, it is a proven fact that those who cannot rise above a turbulent wind like the eagle tend to fight with it. We have however taken upon ourselves to remind Mr. Saffa of his own words in the process of fighting with the wind of “Positive Change.” Because, it is scaring the way he is becoming worried about the political position of those who have the strength and courage to flow with the fierce wind of “Positive Change.”

 

Because of these empty laudations and forgetfulness that is so common amongst the S.L.P.P. leaders, I begin to muse whether the then Sierra Leone Head of Mission to the United Nations, Mr. Ibrahim M. Kamara was only blowing out hot air when he made the following statement in a Sierra Leone Diaspora meeting in Virginia State University, USA, in 2001: “January 6, 1999, and all the other tragic incidents of the rebel war have taught us a lesson. They will forever strengthen our resolve to rebuild our nation, and moreover to uphold the pledge that forthwith, we shall refrain from the use of threat of use of armed force to bring about any change in our beloved country.”

Have Kabbah and Co. destroyed the SLPP ?

Monday, March 20th, 2006

 

Monday March 20, 2006

News  reaching this well-circulating newspaper  from all works of life is the speed with which people are desrting the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party led by President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah to join the People’s Movement For Democracy ( PMDC )  headed by Mr. Charles Margai.

PRESIDENTTEJANKABBAH

PRESIDENT KABBAH 

Despite the recent statements by former Sierra Leone Ambassador to the U.S , Mr. Ernest John Leigh , insinuating that the PMDC  smoke was just a big hype and the party had not eaten into the power base of the SLPP ,  this newspaper has seen and heard a lot to rely on the former Ambassador’s assessments.

The Ex-Ambassador is a man of integrity and we respect his perceptions and judgements  , but is there something that he and those who are insisting that the PMDC  is just a magic-shadow show   they are failing to see ? All around us, in the diaspora and back home in Sierra Leone, people are renouncing their support of the SLPP  and declaring for the  PMDC . What is really happening ?

The SLPP  is Sierra Leone’s most premier political party. It is not only the oldest and seemingly the most durable; it  was the party that led Sierra Leone into the lofty heights of Independence. The SLPP  also controls the key South/Eastern region of Sierra Leone.

When a big tree starts to fall , villagers too start taking precautions for the aftershocks and after effects for a big tree never falls without impacting on the lives of the people around it. While it is true that political loyalties are the most untrustworthy and they change with the wind, there is reason for every Sierra Leoneans to take note of the changes going on in our political landscape.

Sierra Leoneans should take note because in the same fashion that the SLPP  seems to have been destroyed , it is the same manner that our social institutions have been damaged by those we are cursed to have as leaders. They have destroyed our schools, colleges and universities .

Sierra Leone , once the Athens of West Africa and the Beacon of Light of Africa ,  is now  a pale shadow of her true  self in the field of Education . Our education no longer has the qualitative bite it once commanded. Graduates from our academic institutions are as ignorant and dumb as a door bell. Our educational institutions no longer give good learning and this is manifested in the quality of graduates we are now producing. Whether they are university or high school graduates, their quality is dreadful. They can hardly write not to mention express themselves logically and cogently in public. One has to hold his breath whenever one of our graduates is speaking English in public. Present day graduates from the University , which has become generous with Honors degrees just cannot get their sentences right.  This paper holds our politicians accountable for the rot that have settled around our schools, colleges and universities.

The same people  have also destroyed our radio station , the SLBS , which was once West Africa’s leading radio station , apart from being the oldest and the pace-setter in the sub -continent .They have also destroyed  THE SIERRA LEONE DAILY MAIL, a media which not only led the fight for West African political independence  in the 1950s and early 1960s but was the model of Fleet-Street -styled journalism in this part of Africa. .Journalism in Sierra Leone today has degenerated into  the recourse for every manner of social and intellectual misfit. The quality of our newspapers is  so poor that you would be embarassed to display them where Ghanaian, Kenyan, Nigerian and Ugandan newspapers ( For example ) are being showcased. This is what happens when social institutions are run for private profit by megalomaniacs.

Everything has fallen apart in the country and now it is the political parties that they have turned their attention to –To destroy. This paper is  concerned about the destruction of our parties because we need strong, vibrant political INSTITUTIONS  for democracy to flourish in the country. When we cannot talk about the once-ruling and now opposition All People’s Congress ( APC ) without being encumbered by   a sleuth of recriminations for the chaos that has split the party asunder . , it is very sad. As at now, we have no political party that one can honestly identify as a political institution that is seriously growing and flourishing. Both the SLPP  and APC  are  now rent asunder by chaos.

When a nation cannot boast of one strong and serious political party, what happens is that the door is swung wide open for political chicanery and thuggery. It should not surprise any if politicians  embark on a mission of bold-faced rigging and intimidation of opponents to steal votes during the 2007 General Elections. When political parties have no strong support base among the people from whom they are supposed to  get the votes , stuffing of ballot boxes, with stolen votes ,  hijacking of polling stations and other criminal electoral practices    are  the only recourse .

President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah and his cronies owe die-hard SLPP  supporters an apology for the way they have ruined the party.

 

VOTING IN JJ SAFFA AKA JJ BLOOD

Monday, March 20th, 2006
 
  By Alpha Lebbie
Monday March 20 , 2006
PART 1
The Sierra Leone People’s Party returned to power in 1996 after almost 28 years in the political wilderness.During this period, because the country was a de jure one party state under the All Peoples’ Congress party , almost all Sierra Leoneans were  APC members.
Once again , it  seems that almost all Sierra Leoneans are SLPP members. Prominent figures who had served the APC are now SLP P top party functionaries.
Currently politics in Sierra Leone seems like a charade where there are virtually no differences in the manifestoes between one party and  the other. The aged continue to wield political power and the vast majority of the youths who constitute the largest voting bloc lack the political organization to win power in the two main parties in the country. If the youths hope to ever influence policy in Sierra Leone , they must within the confines of the democratic process contest and win elections in the parties.This is where the recent declaration by Jacob Jusu Saffa to run for the office of Secretary General of the SLPP becomes very relevant. As a young man graduating from the university in 1990, he faced the civil war that ravaged the country from 1991—2002. When most graduates were running from home to seek greener pastures and safety, he never fled. Rather , save for graduate studies abroad, he would always return to the country that he believed had not yet lost all . He would always return to serve the country becoming a top World Bank official in Sierra Leone.
Aside the resume that he possesses, this is a very fine young man who has known the nuances of the typical dread Sierra Leone life. He knows and feels how to be a provincial striving to survive in Freetown.; what unemployment means ; what college students go through to obtain  their certificates etc. Much more , he has gained the requisite knowledge and experience to revamp the SLPP. With his youthfulness, he can attract the young to the party which is considered too old and feeble. Since the ill fated NPRC who seized power by force; JJ ‘s aspiration is the first ever attempt by youths to attempt to gain power by democratic means. So  , vote wise , vote Jacob Jusu Saffa.
                                                                                           

The Plight of Freedom of Information in Africa

Monday, March 20th, 2006

By Joseph S. Sherman, Washington, DC

 COCORIOKO Feature Editor

 Monday March 20, 2006

 Freedom of information is one of the most fundamental rights that individuals enjoy.  It is fundamental to the existence of democracy and respect of human dignity.  It is also one of the most dangerous rights; because freedom of information encompasses the right to express one’s discontent with the status quo and the desire to change it.  As such, it is one of the most threatened rights with governments all over Africa.

 Broadly speaking, freedom of information includes the right to free expression of opinion-the right to freedom of speech and freedom to publish.   Article 19 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, The African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and other similar conventions confirmed the rights to freedom of information.

 Freedom of information is important in the developing democracies of Africa because it can render the processes of government more open and make those in power more accountable to their people, and it can also be a useful tool in improving societies.  It is mandatory that African governments place value on freedom of expression in order for the people to be informed because information is a necessary tool in the generation of knowledge.

 Lack of freedom of information affects not just the society but also governments in power.  Since African governments don’t have polls as developed countries to indicate the regimes popularity, and that of their policies, political leaders could hardly know their approval and disapproval of themselves and their policies.  In the absence of this, that is why most African leaders rely on self-deception of highly staged managed “national “parades” that are given to misinform rather than inform. Consequently, this action breeds deception, corruption and sycophancy in government circles.

 Freedom of discussion in public affairs serves as an important function regardless of whether the political structure of a nation is democratic or not.  Every African government must have some process for feeding back to it information concerning the attitudes, needs and wishes of its citizens, to make known their wants and desires.  It is dismaying, however to observe that most African countries record of media freedom ranges between severe censorship to benign restrictions.

 The people of Africa access to information is a matter of high importance.  Openness or the lack of it affects people’s livelihood and lives.  It is important for those who have specialist skills in the field to join forces and push for more openness in the continent.  On the hand, progressive governments, civil organizations and the media should speak for those who are afraid or not able to speak for themselves, by doing that they can protect this right in the interests of those who can not do it for themselves.

 

 

WASTED YEARS IN SIERRA LEONE

Saturday, March 18th, 2006

 

Thursday May 18, 2006

First_Name:  Kinnie- Moi
Last_Name:  Kemokai
Email_Address:  kemfatic@hotmail.com
Address:  Sudan
City:  Juba
State:  Bahel Jebel
Zip_Code:  N/A
Comments:  I’m an excellent reader of Cocorioko and it is my main link to Sierra Leone while in the diaspora. I have also been reading every article published by this paper from the two brothers (Foday and Hashim Daboh). But to tell you the truth,Foday has missed his mark just as the SLPP will come next election. Do you mean to say that Foday has no issues of concern to discuss rather than attack the late Sir Albert? Is this the type of politics he is going to preach come 2007? Hashim, like me has always been very crtical of Pa kabbah and his cabinet of looters. In all his articles, he has never and I know he will never attack family members of the Pa and his bag totting boys.

True to say the APC err during their period of misrule. But we changed them in 1996 to usher in SLLP thinking that they will change the nation. But all ten years have again gone down the drains. Foday, imgine the SLPP SABABU Education chap chap that is been preached by Wurie and his team of looters. Please stop by one senior secondary school and try speaking English to them, you will realise that education for all should actually meant quality edication.I’m one of those who went through primary education during the APC era. There were good teachers and quality education was the watch word. Today you only need to look at our universities and hear the students speaks.

The hydro in Dodo was built by APC to serve Kenema and then later Bo. Instead of helping to improve the only facility in the south east, the SLLPP led gov’t has alomst criple it and now both Bo and Kenema are in constant power cuts. very soon both minicipalities will be like Freetown. This does not however mean that I support APC. I just want to bring to light the deficiencies in Foday’s Kabbah led government which he seems blind to reason against. Please Ngor Foday, if you have nothing to say about Sierra leone, then you better keep quiet and never again attack Sir Albert. Let me help Pa Javombo to tell you to apologise to Charles and his family. You will hear more from us in the diaspora when the dance begins.
NGOR FODAY, BE MAHUN GBE – YOO; OH HO.

Sierra Leone and Liberia: The Prospects for Development, Peace and Prosperity

Friday, March 17th, 2006

Karamoh Kabba
March 17, 2006

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf gestures during her inaugural address at the capitol building in Monrovia, Liberia, on January 16, 2006. (Photo: Jim Watson / AFP-Getty Images)

Sierra Leone and Liberia have many things in common: They are English-speaking neighbors, home to the descendents of freed slaves (Freetown, Monrovia), have had two identical menaces in the forms of Charles Taylor and Foday Sankoh, have recently ended acrimonious civil wars, and have postwar presidents who were once employees of the United Nations.

Notwithstanding these striking similarities, the seeming dissimilarities of their presidents, as revealed in their inaugural speeches, are of peculiar interest. Although given 10 years apart, one would expect some likeness in the speeches of leaders who have identical problems. But in an examination of Sierra Leonean President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah’s inaugural speech (1996) and newly elected Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s inaugural speech (2006), you will notice little resemblance.

The apparent unlikeness of these two postwar inaugural speeches underscores the action of disgruntled soldiers who successfully toppled the government of President Kabbah in May 1997. It also helps us to understand why Sierra Leone, 10 years after President Kabbah’s first inaugural speech, is still unable to wiggle its way out of despondent poverty and control the chronic unemployment of its youth ? key factors that fueled its civil war in the first place. On the other hand, it may explain why President Sirleaf’s Liberia has more potential for development, peace and prosperity.

1

The recently ended, decade-long civil wars, which began Liberia and spilled over into Sierra Leone, were marked by some of the most unsightly war crimes against humanity. They were caused by factors such as economic and social marginalization, and political intolerance of certain sectors of society by the aristocratic and paternalistic regimes of the past. Foreign realpolitik was also a factor, pursued through covert and overt action and compounded by popular youth movements in both countries. However, the true origin of both wars can be traced back to the minority Americo-Liberian’s (freed slaves) anachronistic and paternalistic government that ruled the majority native population in Africa’s first republic ? Liberia ? for many years, that is until Samuel Doe put an end to it on April 12, 1980, in one of West Africa’s bloodiest military coups.

Unlike the United States, which in 1847 set up and abetted the regime of freed American slaves that invariably marginalized the native population on the rubber plantations of Liberia, Britain probably foresaw such a problem when it ended colonization in Sierra Leone by handing power to Sir Milton Margai, a native from the majority Mende-speaking people.

But it was through the advocacy of people like U.S. Senator John Tyler Morgan, who argued on the late 19-century senate floor, “Africa was prepared for the Negro as certainly as the Garden of Eden was prepared for Adam and Eve,” that Africa indeed became the Garden of Eden for freed slaves and colonization: In Mobutu’s Democratic Republic of the Congo, in Charles Taylor’s Liberia, in Foday Sankoh’s Sierra Leone, in Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, and Angola, among many others.

After pouring over $500 million dollars in aid on the Doe regime between 1981 and 1985, former secretary of state George P. Shultz would later think aloud, “Perhaps I made a wrong career choice, if it was people like that I was going to meet. Doe was unintelligible.”

Howard W. French, in his well-researched book, A Continent for the Taking, puts it this way:

“As they settled the land, the Americo-Liberians fondly strove to reproduce the only model they knew, the plantation society of the American South. Affecting top hats and morning coats, the freedmen ruled Africa’s first republic in a clannish and conservative manner, established their own curiously paternalistic brand of apartheid, systematically excluding so-called aborigines from positions of privilege and power.”

2

Ahmed Tejan Kabbah was born on February 16, 1932, in Pendembu, in the eastern district of Kailahun. He was educated in Sierra Leone and England, studying economics at the undergraduate level before going on to study law. He worked briefly with the British colonial system before working as a civil servant in independent Sierra Leone. Before his twenty plus years of service with the United Nations Development Program (U.N.D.P.), he was once a subject of a commission of inquiry for corruption in Sierra Leone (1967) at the Sierra Leone Produce Marketing Board (S.L.P.M.B.). Otherwise, he traveled widely and mustered much experience in diplomacy during his international service with the U.N. He served in the West Africa Division of the U.N.D.P. in New York, as the resident representative of U.N.D.P. operations in Lesotho, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe. He retired from the U.N.D.P. head office in New York as a coordinator of assistance between the U.N. and liberation movements such as the African National Congress (A.N.C.) and the South West African People’s Organization (Swapo). His entry on the Sierra Leonean political stage came when the military junta of the National People’s Reform Council (N.P.R.C.) asked him to chair the National Advisory Council, which was established to facilitate the restoration of constitutional rule and the drafting of a new constitution for Sierra Leone following a 1992 military coup. He was elected president of Sierra Leone in 1996, when he became chairman of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (S.L.P.P.).

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was born in Monrovia, the Liberia’s capitol, on October 29, 1938. Unlike Kabbah, Sirleaf is a descendant of Americo-Liberians. She was educated in Liberia and the United States. In the U.S., at Harvard she earned a masters degree in public administration. She entered politics very early, serving as Minister of Finance from 1972-73 in then President William Tolbert’s cabinet, a position she would abandon because of a public spending disagreement. She was twice a political prisoner in Liberia. She narrowly escaped Samuel Doe’s witch-hunt in the 80’s. After fleeing to Kenya, she began an international civil service career. (Note: Kabbah chose self-exile following his 1967 corruption investigation; Sirleaf had to flee political persecution.)

Sirleaf returned to Liberia in 1985 to participate in politics during which she was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for opposing Samuel Doe ? she served two years. She was again locked up briefly by Charles Taylor, who she had supported against Samuel Doe. Like Kabbah, Sirleaf has vast experience with the U.N.D.P. From 1992-97 she worked at the U.N.D.P. Regional Bureau for Africa as assistant administrator, and later became the director. She returned to Liberia, defeated world football star George Weah in a presidential campaign, and became the first African woman head of state.

3

An overview of both speeches:

President Sirleaf’s inaugural speech is well organized. The same cannot be said of President Kabbah’s inaugural speech. After a few lines of dedication, Sirleaf goes straight to the issues. Although her victory brought important dignitaries to Liberia for the inauguration, she did not dote on them.

President Kabbah in contrast, before accepting the position, burned four long paragraphs on thanking and praising almost everyone in attendance. Thereafter he proceeded to identifying and magnifying the graveness of the state of the nation but with nary a concrete plan of action statement.

In retrospect of the wars:

President Kabbah: “The tasks ahead are monumental. You are aware that our country stands virtually in ruins, with thousands slaughtered, soldiers and civilians alike, tens of thousands maimed and mutilated, and hundreds of thousands displaced, traumatized, living in poverty, diminished in spirit and body, and the country’s moral, physical, and social infrastructure destroyed.”

President Sirleaf: “Today, we wholeheartedly embrace this change. We recognize that this change is not change for change sake, but a fundamental break with the past, thereby requiring that we take bold and decisive steps to address the problems that for decades have stunted our progress, undermined national unity, and kept old and new cleavages in ferment.”

In his following paragraph, Kabbah went on to discuss the cause of Sierra Leone problem while Sirleaf went straight to the solution of Liberia’s problem when she said, “We pledge anew our commitment to transparency, open government, and participatory democracy for all of our citizens.”

“Political Renewal”:

President Sirleaf: “First, let me declare in our pursuit of political renewal, that the political campaign is over. It is time for us, regardless of our political affiliations and persuasions, to come together to heal and rebuild our nation. For my part, as President of the Republic of Liberia, my Government extends a hand of friendship and solidarity to the leadership and members of all political parties, many of them sitting right in front of me, which participated in our recent presidential and legislative elections. I call upon those who have been long in the struggle ? and those who recently earned their stripes ? to play important roles in the rebuilding of our nation.”

There is nothing for comparison here except that president Kabbah concluded his speech by asking Sierra Leoneans “to show tolerance for the views of others, magnanimity to our transgressors for their many grievous wrongs to use of the past, and turn a new page for the future and for the good of Sierra Leone,” as if he were not a part of that past.

“Economic Renewal”:

Both leaders acknowledged the devastation of the economies of their nations by years of warring and the excessive corruption of successive regimes. Unlike President Kabbah, President Sirleaf pledged to change that trend by outlining specific plans such as encouraging those investors that will add value to Liberia’s environment in the process of exploiting its natural resources. She discussed how to encourage and give small loans to farmers to jumpstart the economy. She also discussed one common and sensitive topic in both countries that Kabbah never dared to touch: the land tenure system, which is among the greatest enemies to many African economies. She promised to revisit the land tenure system to give investors more flexibility and access to land. “This will call for a transformation of our economic vision into economic goals that are consistent with our national endowment and regional and global dynamics,” she said.

Governance:

President Sirleaf outlined how she will make government effective in Liberia:

“The workforce in our ministries and agencies is seriously bloated. Our Administration will therefore embark on a process of rationalizing our agencies of government to make them lean, efficient, and responsive to public service delivery. This will require the creation of a meritocracy that places premium on qualification, professionalism, and performance.”

President Kabbah made a promise to the people:

“The outlines of my government’s policy in the coming years have been set out in my Party’s manifesto. The practical details will be spelt out to you when I publish my government’s legislative programs, hopefully in my maiden speech to Parliament.”

Corruption:

On this very important matter of grave consequence to the economies of both nations, President Sirleaf was emotional when she outlined how she is going to handle corruption in Liberia. She made a pronouncement ? “Corruption, under my Administration, will be the major public enemy.” ? and took a very clear stance on corruption when she said that members of her administration would declare their assets and that she will declare hers first to lead by example.

The same cannot be said of President Kabbah who went on making promises on every important issue of statecraft, sometimes referring people to his party’s manifesto.

The word “corruption” appeared only once in President Kabbah’s speech when he blamed past regimes without any insight of how he would make a difference in that area of governance. Whereas President Sirleaf stated, “My Administration will also accord high priority to the formulation and passage into law of a National Code of Conduct, to which all public servants will be subjected,” hammering a big headed nail of credence into her stance on corruption.

Foreign Policy:

On foreign policy, President Sirleaf stressed noninterference in other countries and good neighborliness whereas President Kabbah praised foreign dignitaries in almost every paragraph of his speech. He seemed to be more concerned with celebrating his victory than talking substance.

4

Sirleaf’s presidency is the first true representation of a non-strongman leadership democracy in Liberia since 1980. Her recent inaugural address perfectly qualifies as the first postwar democratic inauguration in Liberia. If President Kabbah had had good action plans in his 1996 inaugural address, Sierra Leone would have marked the end of hostilities that year. Instead, his lethargic approach to leadership created the need for a 17,600-strong U.N. peacekeeping force.

The threat of violence still looms in Sierra Leone as it approaches its third “democratic” inauguration in 2007 ? a journalist was beaten to death recently, and Paul Kamara could barely stand when he came out of the infamous Pandemba road prison after the supreme court acquitted him for reprinting the outcome of an inquiry into President Kabbah’s 1967 corruption charges. Many journalists are fleeing persecution and many more are leaving the country after imprisonment. The authorities in President Kabbah’s government are dragging their feet with regard to the registration of formidable political parties. Excessive corruption and chronic unemployment of the youth are all signs that President Kabbah’s 1996 inaugural address lacked substance.

President Sirleaf, who recognized her opponent in her inaugural speech, showed signs of tolerance. It signaled in itself the commencement of outstanding leadership. And she did not stop short of stating categorically that anyone who attempts to disturb the hard-earned peace in Liberia would be dealt with accordingly.

Until President Kabbah and his team start looking at the issues transparently and pragmatically, Liberia’s progress will take place in leaps and bounds over Sierra Leone’s.