From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Dr. Sama Banya Takes On UN’s Schulenburg
By The Puawui Column By Dr. Sama Banya
Apr 12, 2010, 19:16

When we lost the result of the 2007 Presidential election to the APC’s Ernest Bai Koroma now his Excellency the President, the APC wrote us off. They gloated that we were not only down but supposedly very demoralized and out. It did not happen then nor has it or is it likely to happen. We have demonstrated to them and to those who helped them by means fair or foul, our determination and resilience to bounce back.

And here let me repeat because of the inability of the ruling party to improve the lives of our people or come up with any successful innovation, come 2012, at sharp twelve we shall with the willing cooperation of the people again be at the helm of affairs in this country, and I don't mean perhaps. With the exception of ambitious and greedy former members, we have not lost any men of value to the ruling APC. As I write this there is surfeit of men and women of character and high reputation who are opting and capable of leading us to Victory. Several are appealing to the general membership to give them the opportunity to serve. For our part we welcome this open and democratic process which will pave the way in helping us to make a meaningful choice. There is no animosity among the prospective contenders, nor is there likely to be.

Last Friday I mentioned the name of the Executive Representative of the Secretary-General who is also head of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL.) In my early encounters with Mr. Michael Von der Schulenburg. I had the impression that he was certainly different from his immediate predecessor Victor Angelo. In a way he is, perhaps he is diplomatically a little more subtle.

After the unwarranted and vicious attack on our SLPP headquarters and the beastly rape of our women there, he took the initiative of opening dialogue with President Koroma. He followed that up with meetings with our leadership which finally led to the joint peace communiqué. I thought we had the right man.

Suddenly he put his foot in things by suggesting even if only in humour, that some computers which had been promised to us to replaced those damaged by the APC thugs might also be donated to the APC headquarters which had neither been attacked nor suffered damage or loss of property.

Now that suggestion bothered me. Was Mr. Schulenburg plannning to reward the APC for thuggery or did he just want to play the balancing act? This was followed by that affair of the Sierra Leone delegation to the United Nations headquarters to solicit resources for the Peace Building Fund. The head of UNIPSIL ought to have realized that because of the recent attack on the SLPP offices, the party should have been represented by our leader John Benjamin who was in the United States at the time. Only the Government’s voice was heard and its virtues extolled by the Foreign Minister. And yet Mr. Schulenburg had left sexually brutalized, bleeding SLPP women behind in Sierra Leone.

Now to the recent Report of the UN Secretary-General to the Security Council. It is tepid in those areas where it should have been more forcefully stated. For example in paragraph 4 which refers to the debacle which characterized the recent chieftaincy elections he mentions interference in the electoral process by political parties/surrogates contrary to applicable legislation. Which were the other political parties or surrogates when in every case it was APC?

Inadequate though the report of Bankole-Thompson Commission was, Mr. Von der Schulenburg ought to have quoted their exact words instead of playing it down even further than Bankole Thompson's inadequate report did!

The UNIPSIL boss quite rightly mentions the clashes between the SLPP and APC supporters during the Tongo local government bye-elections. But as head of a Peacebuilding mission should he not have added that only SLPP supporters have been charged to court? but again that would have painted the government in bad light and so an important factor was ignored.

Referring to the new Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation he writes in paragraph 37, "In a spirit of bipartisanship, the government appointed Septimus Kaikai the Minister of Information and Broadcasting in the previous (SLPP) government as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees." Some bipartisan sipirit in deed! Ask any member of the SLPP when last Septimus Kaikai went near the SLPP headquarters since September 17, 2007!!

Michael von der Schulenburg may be laying the foundation to enable the international community to say of Ernest come 2012, "He is the right chap for that country; let us maintain the regime," meaning NO REGIME CHANGE. My advice to Schulenburg is do not be too clever by half.

© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.