where does the responsibility end? – Welcome to Sierra Leone Telegraph


Andrew Keili: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 03 September 2022:

Sierra Leone’s politicians were divided even at independence. Independence festivities were overshadowed by a state of emergency declared ten days earlier following a campaign of sabotage by the opposition All People’s Congress Party (APC).

The APC had insisted that independence be postponed until free elections were held. Its leader, Siaka Stevens, was arrested about a week before independence along with his right-hand man, Wallace Johnston, and 16 other party members. They had planned a general strike to coincide with independence celebrations, and it was feared that riots would break out if the strike continued. It would appear that we entered independence with many issues simmering beneath the surface, some of which are with us to this day.

If there is one thing almost everyone agrees on, it is that Sierra Leone is a divided country and the division is even more acute now. I do not intend to analyze the reasons for the division; I’ll just state the facts. Let’s take a look at some of the things that divide us. We are:

Divided by political colors

Red and green, the colors of the APC and the SLPP divide us respectively. The ardent loyalists of these political parties could not be seen dead under the color of “the enemy”. This has been extended to other areas of our national life as there have been fights for these colors in school sporting functions, ensuring that the color division is etched in the minds of our young people.

Divided over how we are counted – the census division

There is no doubt that the SLPP prefers the use of the 2021 mid-term census results to delineate boundaries and constituencies. The APC prefers the results of the 2015 census. The census taken during each party’s governing tenure tends to give it an advantage in numbers of people in party strongholds and accusations of “census rigging” have now become Standard. We don’t seem to agree on how we should be counted and what our numbers are.

Divided by ethnicity and region

The country’s ethno-regional divide is evident in the election results. The APC is primarily a northwestern party and the SLPP a southeastern party, with each region made up of large dominant tribes. There are accusations that the “majorization” of our system of governance means it translates into quality jobs and greater resources for areas with predominant support for the ruling party.

Divided on the type of electoral system to adopt

Proponents of the current constituency electoral system and the proportional representation system have been very vocal in defending their preferred electoral system. To date, we are not sure of the electoral system that we will adopt in the next general elections.

Divided over reasons for recent riots

The government and its supporters claim that underlying the recent deadly protests was an insurgency intended to destabilize the state and result in a forcible seizure of power and that this was instigated by the opposition APC. The opposition APC says it has nothing to do with it and that several issues related to the general discontent of the population have led to this situation.

Divided over suitability of inquiry committee members for recent riots

The government claims that the commission of inquiry set up is an impartial commission, representing the main groups of stakeholders. The opposition thinks not and say that many members have already expressed their views on those responsible for the riots, who should not have been on the committee.

Divided over government achievements

Each of the APC and SLPP parties claims to have done better than the other, particularly in the area of ​​infrastructure. Each claims that he finished what his predecessor messed up. Meanwhile, no one mentions the role played by donors.

Divided over which party is the most corrupt

Each of the two main parties claims the other is more corrupt and they just clean up the egregious mess caused by its predecessor, usually setting up a commission of inquiry to prove it.

Divided over who has a better human rights record

Each side undermines the other’s human rights record. The independent ratings aren’t flattering though, and it’s more like six of one and half a dozen of the other.

Divided over the cause of the difficulties

The SLPP says the current difficulties are a global phenomenon. APC says yes to some extent, but it’s also significantly self-inflicted due to outrageous government spending.

Divided on the perception of the international community on the issues

Each of the two main parties says the international community supports their position on various issues. The SLPP claims in particular that this support is due to its commendable performance in governance. The APC says this is happening despite the government’s poor performance only because they want to prevent Sierra Leone from being a failed state.

Divided on our perception of the independence of justice

Each of the main parties, when in opposition, claims that the judiciary is not independent, pronounces fallacious judgments and meddles in its affairs. Each party when in governance disagrees.

Divided between central government and local government

Every major party claims when in opposition that key councils of local governments in opposition strongholds are hobbled, but when in governance they claim these councils have a propensity to sabotage government in place.

Divided into various factions within parties

The division within the parties is accentuated when a party is in opposition, the question of the standard bearer often dominating the fight. The division often results in lawsuits, with accusations of interference by the ruling party in opposition affairs.

It’s a handful and perhaps wanting a uniformity of views may be utopian. Above all, we must bear in mind the divisions that lead to indignation and sparks of violence, threatening peace and security in the country.

There are certainly some areas in which we find unity. The areas of religion and sports of our national team, especially football, come to mind.

But who should fix this mess? Chapter 11 of the 1991 Constitution on the “Fundamental Principles of State Policy” sheds some light on this subject. While sovereignty belongs to the people of Sierra Leone from whom the government, through the Constitution, derives all its powers, authority and legitimacy, the security, peace and welfare of the people of Sierra Leone is the main objective and the responsibility of the government. A policy objective is for the state to “promote national integration and unity and discourage discrimination based on place of origin, circumstances of birth, sex, religion, status, association or ties ethnic or linguistic. In addition, there are social, educational and other objectives.

The principles contained therein are fundamental in the governance of the State, and it is the duty of Parliament to apply these principles in the making of laws. The President who is the head of state acts as a symbol of national identity and helps promote unity and pride and also acts as the symbol of the nation to the international community. He is also the head of government, overseeing the functioning of the civil service and government agencies, and appoints members of government.

Thus, Parliament and the President have a human role to play. In our current situation, the responsibility rests with the president who should use all the levers at his disposal to stem the huge divide, whoever the culprit. He has all the levers at his disposal – both the ‘carrot levers’ and the ‘stick levers’ and they are expected to use them with circumspection. “The head that wears a crown is uneasy” is an apt description of his predicament as he grapples with advice from all walks of life – some genuine and cautious and some not, on the levers at use to remedy the acute fracture in the country.

The sign “The Buck Stops Here” was on President Truman’s desk in his White House office. On more than one occasion, he referred to the lectern sign in public statements. In his farewell address to the American people in January 1953, President Truman referred very specifically to this concept when he stated that “whoever the president is must decide. He can’t return the ball to anyone. No one else can decide for them. It’s his job.

History will not be kind to a president under whose watch the nation disintegrates, no matter who the culprit. The buck stops with the president!

Consider my thoughts.

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