Statement by the SLPP Presidential Flag Bearer, Brig. (Rtd.) Julius Maada Bio, to the Meeting of the SLPP National Executive Council
SLPP Headquarters, Freetown, Sierra Leone
July 4, 2012
Mr. Chairman & Leader
Deputy Chairman & Leader
My Running Mate
Hon. Members of Parliament
Ladies & Gentlemen
With humility and candour I stand before you today, the National Executive Council of our Great Party, for the very first time since my election as the Standard Bearer of our Party for the forthcoming Elections on November 17, 2012. This means we have barely 135 days to go to the Elections.
Allow me to take this opportunity to thank all of you for the support you gave by electing me to the position of Flag Bearer of our Party. I am most grateful to all of you for the trust and confidence you have reposed in me. I hope and pray I shall live up to your expectation by delivering victory to our noble Party on November 17.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the signs are looking good. All the current signals point to a massive victory for the SLPP, come November 17. We know this for certain because the people of the Western Area have recently spoken when they welcomed me back from my foreign travels; they can’t wait to boot the APC and their runaway inflation out of office. The people in the Southern and Eastern Provinces have also spoken loudly and clearly, especially during my Thank-the-People tour, that the APC had long ago failed on their promises and lost their confidence. Poor people everywhere are today dying of hunger as their level of poverty continues to grow unbearably. The people of the North will get their turn to speak out when our tour of Koinadugu starts in two days time.
The people are yearning for a clean election; an election that is free, fair transparent and credible; an election that no political party will hesitate to accept as truly reflecting the wishes of the Sierra Leonean people. Above all, we want an election that is violence and intimidation free. We trust that the National Electoral Commission can deliver such an election. To fail to do this is to fail the people of this country. We are sure that Madam Christiana Thorpe simply cannot afford to be remembered as the person who failed to deliver a clean election to the people of this country.
However, the confidence we have in Madam Christiana Thorpe and her Commissioners cannot be extended to the present leadership of the Police. The “Force for Good” that became their much vaunted accolade under the rule of the last SLPP Government has since evaporated. Among their recent recruits are a few men who have shown a tendency to be trigger-happy as evidenced by the shooting incidents at Bo in September 2011, Bumbuna in May 2012 and even more recently in the Wellington and Goderich Areas of Freetown for example. This has had the effect of eroding public confidence in the capacity of the Police to superintend a free and fair election. Our Party is therefore calling for the disarming of the Police altogether during the electioneering period. However, if they must carry arms at all during that period they should only do so either in combination with the Army or under the supervision of the United Nations.
Recently I undertook visits to the UK, Europe and Canada. Our detractors had said that I was permanently home-bound and banned from travelling overseas. I think my recent sojourn in those countries is more than sufficient to debunk that propaganda.
I had a very successful tour. I met with some of our members in the Diaspora; had discussions with relevant officials of government and the legislature, CEOs of multinational corporations and with potential investors who are ready to come and invest in this country once the type of government and the conditions in the country are appropriate. I was also invited to deliver public lectures in such prestigious institutions as the Royal Institute of International Affairs (commonly known as Chatham House) in London and the International Economic Forum of the Americas, also known as the Conference of Montreal. The dividends and networking I gained from these meetings shall soon be reflected in the type and volume of investment that shall come to our country once we regain the seat of power after the elections in November.
From all the contacts I made during my travels, I can say here without any reservation that the attitude of the international community to our situation in 2007 is now completely different. I see an international community with a disposition that is more open, more objective, more friendly and more accommodating. We see no forces from the international community threatening the wellbeing or the results of our elections. However we notice certain recent pronouncements from one of our neighbours that could easily be construed as unwarranted and unacceptable interference in the domestic political affairs in this country. But I think we know where all this is coming from and we shall address this matter in due course.
All this said, there are many other challenges . I shall mention only a few and only briefly:
- Intimidation of our members has continued unrelentingly. The cases of Hon. Rado Yoki and others, Councillor Kanu Mansaray and Abu Moseray and of Dr. Abass Bundu continue by one adjournment following another and with no end in sight. The case of Aziz Carew and others was recently closed with a heavy fine.
- Defections have continued from one political party to another. Vote-buying has virtually become commonplace with the APC at the forefront.
- Millions of dollars continue to be spent on the shipment of arms and ammunition into the country by the ruling party whilst poor people go to bed with empty stomachs and the sick die from want of basic drugs.
- With the rainy season taking its toll on the environment and exposing shoddy works being done on the roads, the people are now in a better position to see what I meant when I spoke about “cosmetic road construction”.
Ladies and Gentlemen, another formidable challenge we face as a Party is the award of party symbols and the strengthening and consolidation of our party unity. But no challenge, however mighty, is insurmountable. Triumph we shall both within our party and within our country. All we need at this crucial moment is to stay focused, and redouble our commitment and fidelity to the project at hand, namely bouncing the SLPP back to power, come November 17.
One Country, One People!