Ernest to meet with Bio

The President and the former President during at State House in 2019

By Alfred Koroma

ECOWAS Chairman, Guinea-Bissau President, Umaro Sissoco Embalo has told top diplomats that former President Ernest Bai Koroma has agreed to meet with President Julius Maada Bio when he returns from Kenya to discuss peace & calmness.

 The ECOAS Chairman made the revelation during a meeting with President Bio, ambassadors, heads of missions, United Nations representatives and journalists where the President briefed the delegation on the August 10 violent protests that happened in Freetown and some parts of the country.

Former President Koroma has agreed to meet with his successor amidst political tensions in the country. Recently, a violent protest erupted in the country where protesters attacked and killed police officers, burned down police stations and destroyed other properties. The police also responded by teargasing the protesters and firing life bullets at them, leading to the deaths of both police officers and civilians.

Sissoco Embalo expressed shocked over the killing of policemen, saying this is the first he has seen such a gruesome violence against law enforcement officers after 20 years in the ECOWAS region.

 In his broadcast to the nation on Friday, President Bio called the violent incident as an ‘insurrection’ which he said was pre-meditated, well-planned, financed, and executed with shocking brutality. He accused the former President’s party, the main opposition All People’s Congress (APC) of masterminding the violence.

 But the APC had issued a press release condemning the incident and distancing itself from the protest. Senior members of the party, including the former President also condemned it individually.

 Both Bio and Koroma who have been proposed to meet were out of the country at the time of the three-day protest that ended violently. President Bio was in UK while his predecessor was in Kenya heading the African Union – COMESA observation mission in the just concluded Kenya election.

They will be meeting amidst growing calls for dialogue between Government and the opposition political parties as a way to maintain the country’s peace and national cohesion.

 Relations between Bio and his predecessor considerably deteriorated after the 2018 election that ushered in the Bio-led administration after being declared winner of the then Presidential election.

The two leaders last met in September 2019 following protest by the APC leadership against a range of issues, including massive sacking of public officials believed to be members of the main opposition, APC; the setting up of a commission of inquiry to investigate public officials who served in the Koroma-led administration.