|Press Release: Maada Bio Visits London; Meets Journalists and U.K Government Ministers
May 8, 2012, London
Julius Maada Bio, presidential candidate for the Sierra Leone People's Party, completed a series of meetings with journalists as well as a minister of the UK government today in London. The meetings were part of a week long tour of the UK capital, which will include a speech at the Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House. In an interview with Reuters news agency, Mr Maada Bio expressed his eagerness to work closely with private investors in the country’s mining sector to make sure Sierra Leone got the best possible deal to help accelerate development and increase employment. Mr Maada Bio told Reuters: "What we want to do is to make sure that everybody investing in Sierra Leone has return on their investment, that they are able to repatriate it. We want to create a very conducive atmosphere for them. But we want to make sure that Sierra Leone has its own share in the process."
When pressed on an outgoing UN Representative's ‘great concern’ over a recent shipment of arms into the country, Mr Maada Bio replied: "We are worried about the situation because we think the government is preparing for another war, not elections. At a time when we are talking about elections, in fact at a time when most people are not receiving regular pay, they are bringing in arms and ammunition."
Mr Maada Bio also met with Minister Stephen O'Brien from the Department for International Development. During this meeting, he expressed his profound gratitude for the continuing interest the British government has maintained in Sierra Leone and the vital role the UK has played in ending civil war and cementing democracy in Sierra Leone. However, he warned the Minister of several worrying developments. He relayed details of a recent suspicious shipment of heavy arms into the country. He also expressed concern over the possible politicisation of key institutions within the Sierra Leonean state that could severely damage the chance of a transparent electoral process. The minister and his colleagues promised they would investigate these specific allegations.