September 2, 2015 By Mohamed Massaquoi
Former presidential candidate for the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) in the 2012 presidential election has said that he is “calm, friendly and not a propagandist of naked tribalism” as his political opponents are allegedly claiming him to be. “I believe in peace, tranquility and justice for all,” he said.
Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio was reacting to allegation against him that conducting an interview with Kiss 104 FM in Bo last week in his local Mende dialect was a clear demonstration of him promoting tribal and regional divide. He described people spreading such belief as lacking knowledge of his political pedigree thereby judging him based on their “perception”, and to score political points.
Bio stated that most of his senior advisers are non-Mende and that at the last SLPP convention in Bo, he personally went on air to endorse the candidacy of a northerner and Temne, in the person of Chief Bai Sheboro Somano Kapen, as chairman of the party.
“Nobody will intimidate us with tribe and region, I am sure SLPP will win elections,” said Rtd. Brig. Bio, who has openly demonstrated his interest in once again leading the opposition to the 2018 presidential election. “All SLPP supporters will definitely come together to achieve our objective, which is winning the political leadership of Sierra Leone through the ballot box. So people should stop claiming that I am a trabilist.”
He reiterated that in the run-up to the last elections in 2012, he appointed a northern Temne woman, Dr. Kadie Sesay, as his presidential running-mate. “Therefore to accuse me of being a tribalist is an act of political desperation aimed at smearing my character to my supporters across the country,” said Bio. “This tribal campaign will not work. It is a cheap shot to seek attention by few desperate people. All of these charges against me are dishonest.”
A Bio supporter in Bo, Hassan Gbessay Kamara, told Concord Times that during the said interview, the flag-bearer hopeful was addressing a “specific audience” in Bo district, majority of whom he said do not speak or understand Krio.
“The whole interview lasted for about 25 minutes. During the interview, Bio spoke in Mende for less than a minute; the rest of the interview was done in Krio,” Kamara explained. “Moreover, this was a radio interview which Bio had to insist it be done in Krio for the benefit of a wider audience, even to the disadvantage of some of the listeners who do not speak or understand Krio.”