By Patrick J. Kamara
Chairman, Coalition of Civil Society Organisations, Charles Mambu, has called on the government of Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma to bury erstwhile President Alhaji Dr. Ahmed Tejan Kabbah at the forecourt of Parliament or at the Ascension Town cemetery where his first wife was buried.
Speaking to newsmen yesterday at the weekly Ministry of Information and Communications press conference at Youyi building in Freetown, Mambu – also Director of Health for All Coalition – stated without mincing his words that an icon like ex-President Kabbah should not be buried at the ‘filthy’ Kissy Road cemetery, because he did a lot for the country, including presiding over a peaceful resolution of the civil conflict and entrenching democracy, which is being enjoyed by his compatriots today.
“An icon like former President Kabbah should not be laid to rest at the Kissy Road cemetery. The cemetery is filthy; Freetown City Council and the central government cannot take care of the cemetery properly. It is better if we can bury him at Parliament or closer to his wife’s (late Patricia Kabbah) grave at the National Stadium,” he appealed.
He said the burial of the late President Joseph Saidu Momoh, President Kabbah’s predecessor and a ruling party stalwart, at the Kissy Road cemetery was a mistake.
The controversy over the decision by the ruling All People’s Congress to refuse the former president and doyen of peace, right of burial at the forecourt of Parliament has been attributed to political revenge, emanating from the fact that their comrade, former President Joseph Saidu Momoh, was denied burial right at Parliament by President Kabbah.
Outreach Coordinator in the Office of the Government Spokesman, Abdulai Bayraytay, was on 98.1 FM on Thursday denying the allegations as to the real reasons for government’s decision not to bury President Kabbah at Parliament, despite a Le2 billion state burial, although the reasons he bandied were unconvincing.
Also, Chairman and Leader of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), Chief Bai Shebora Somano Kapen III, said at the press conference that because the former Chairman and Leader of the SLPP will be given a state funeral, his party can only play a passive role. He said the late President Kabbah could be remembered for his legacy of bringing peace, security and development, good governance in the management of the State, among his numerous other virtues. He recounted that the country was in a state of anarchy and turmoil due to a disastrous civil war when the late former president took power in 1996, but was able to put an end to the war and restore peace, which the rest of the country is now enjoying, thus describing him as “an architect of peace”.
Meanwhile, Mr. Bayraytay described the former president as “an engineer of peace and development on whose legacy the present government is working”, adding that the remains of the late man will be laid in Parliament today and at the Madingo mosque for the Friday prayers, while a vigil will be held at the Miatta Conference Center on Saturday, before the body will finally be laid to rest on Sunday, March 23, coincidentally the same date the civil conflict he ended, commenced in 1991.