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‘Bintumani III not about COI, Petition case, but peace commission’ 

May 24, 2019

By Patrick Jaiah Kamara

Chief Minister talks tough

The Chief Minister who is the chairman for the ongoing three-day peace consultative dialogue at the Bintumani Conference Centre in Freetown, has told Sierra Leoneans that the confab will neither discuss issues relating to the Commissions of Inquiry nor the undecided petition cases that are before the High Court.

Professor David Francis was yesterday speaking at the opening session of the conference which attracted hundreds of Sierra Leoneans from all walks of life.

“The road to Bintumani III has brought a debate among many as to its purpose. Bintumani III is not about the ongoing Commissions of Inquiry or the election petition cases in court, it has no mandate to do so.  It is not a Truth and Reconciliation Commission platform where former ministers or officials would come and apologise for any wrong. Bintumani III is all about bringing everyone together to lay down a strong foundation for a long lasting peace and national cohesion as ascribed in the TRC report of 2004,” the Chief Minister said.

He noted that since the civil war officially ended in 2002, the country has not established any institution that would consolidate the peace of the nation and that the importance of Bintumani III cannot be overemphasised.

He acknowledged that President Bio has been in the forefront of Bintumani 1,2, and now 3, which projected him as a leader that is committed to peace and democracy.

Meanwhile, President Bio noted in his keynote address to Sierra Leoneans at the jam-packed Bintumani centre that the three-day consultative conference would see a broad range of stakeholders convene to present their views and expectations, and to make informed decisions about the shared direction and destiny of the nation.

He noted that providing a space for discussions enables government to hear out the various voices and sentiments of ordinary citizens across the nation and that the dialogue is about soliciting the views of Sierra Leoneans on the remit, the shape, and the mechanics of the proposed independent peace and national cohesion commission.

He stated that the eventual establishment of that commission will be a huge step in efforts to further consolidate and strengthen the gains Sierra Leoneans have made since after the first democratic election, thus emphasising the need for a viable infrastructure to help us build on past efforts.

He noted that the commission will be established by an Act of Parliament and that he was anticipating that it will comprise representatives of every facet of Sierra Leone society.

“So my government is eager for the final communique from this event and we will expedite its consideration by cabinet and then the Sierra Leone Parliament. Sierra Leone deserves a permanent and effective peace infrastructure on which the full spectrum of Sierra Leonean voices is represented. This is why we are here today,” he emphasised.

Earlier, the Secretary General of Inter-Religious Council, Dr. Rev. Jesse Fornah said in his brief statement that the council would not shy away from the fact that the country was divided along ‘so many lines’ and that the consultative dialogue for the establishment of a peace commission was something to reckon with.

He however recommended among other things that present and past leaders should take responsibility of the status of the country and that in harnessing peace, one cannot only talk to friends but also enemies.

Even though his comrades chose to boycott the session, the All Peoples Congress strongman, Dr. Alhaji Alpha khanu, told journalists just after the opening session of the conference that he was there as an individual and that he believes peace is the priority,hence he decided to attend the confab so that he would be chanced to make his views, APC party, and the northerners as well.

“It is better that am here. Can you imagine the issues that would remain unresolved had I not been here? To jaw jaw is better than to war war. Dialogue leads to resolutions. No war is concluded on the war front. It has to be resolved at the negotiating table. Our party still has the opportunity to correct our past mistakes which are not grave ones. Our problems are not insurmountable but we must solve them ourselves,” he said.

Dr. Khanu called on his party stalwarts to attend the program as he would moderate an important session today, thus noting that continuous boycotting of state functions would only worsen the situation in the post conflict country.

“I would like some of our comrades to attend. We can put our issues across. I am the chair and so time is available for healing and reconciliation.”

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