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‘Let’s go to the polls in peace and harmony’

 -President Koroma Appeals

December 8, 2017 By Patrick Jaiah Kamara & Jariatu Bangura

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End of an era: President Koroma delivered his last speech to parliament yesterday

While delivering his valedictory address to the Fourth Parliament in the Second Republic of Sierra Leone, President Ernest Bai Koroma yesterday called on Sierra Leoneans ‘to go to the polls in peace and in harmony and come out a stronger and more united country.’

President Koroma, who came to power in 2007 and was re-elected in 2012, commenced his speech by telling the crowded Well of parliament that: “For ten years, I have served our beloved nation to the best of my ability and today, I have come to say good bye to this Honourable House. Yes, I promised that at the end of my tenure I will honourably step aside, and this is why today, I have come to fulfil another constitutional requirement towards my final departure”

In his marathon speech, President Koroma, who his critics say had romanced with proponents of tenure elongation in the hope of running again, entreats compatriots to remember that they have only one Sierra Leone, and that elections are not, and should not be a ‘life or death’ affair.

The president promised that he would continue to provide the level playing field for everybody to participate in a free, fair and democratic environment.

“I want to entreat all the aspirants to understand that Sierra Leone is bigger than every one of us; and to tone down the rhetoric, for in the end, we are all one family; related by blood, by marriage, or by affiliation,” he said.

He expressed appreciation to the security forces for their tireless efforts in keeping the nation safe and secured, noting that the sector has helped in no small measure in rebranding ‘our great country’.

He also thanked ordinary citizens whom he said have toiled throughout the years to complement the efforts of his Government.

“I am also here to give a final account of my ten year stewardship of this country. It has been ten years of co-operation, of compromises, of negotiations, of disagreements, and of service. It was not always easy; sometimes the disagreements were so strong that some of our friends staged walkouts. Though the walkouts were short-lived, but that’s part of democracy,” he said, in an apparent reference to walkouts staged by lawmakers of the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party.

However, he noted that the opposition had at times voted along the ruling All People’s Party, adding that the gesture contributed to peaceful co-existence for the common interest of the people.

Meanwhile, the event, which was attended by a host of dignitaries, including ministers, judges and diplomats, marked an end to the current parliament of 124 members.