From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Sierra Leone Peace & Democracy just keep on Consolidating! RUF Party is now in Spokesman Seat for all Political Parties
By Dr. Sylvia O. Blyden, OOR
Aug 6, 2015, 17:11

The 1999 Lome Peace Accord was crafted with intention to let belligerent Sierra Leone citizens participate in beauty of constitutional multiparty democracy. Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels were Sierra Leoneans who very viciously rebelled against dictators and military junta; They senselessly in their wrath, slaughtered innocent civilians.


The Lome accord between RUF and SLPP-led government was hammered out in Lome under the astute and wise oversight of former Vice-President Solomon Berewa (who by the way is celebrating his 77th birthday today August 6th - Happy Birthday Sir!).


However, many of the points agreed to in Lome were flouted during the tenure of the then SLPP-led government. One of these was the encouragement and sustenance of the RUF into a political entity to be known as RUF Party so former rebels could influence change not through the gun or violence but through democratic and peaceful means.


Contrary to Lome, by the 2007 elections, the SLPP had done all it could to remove their former rebellious brethren from the political space. This affected the peace consolidation process. Former rebels no longer had space within which to exercise rights to political participation - this was unhealthy.


Then APC government of Ernest Bai Koroma was elected in 2007. It is during Koroma’s tenure to date that former rebels were not only able to sustain their RUF party but they could now participate actively in democratic process - just as was expressed for in Lome Peace Accord.


The election yesterday August 5th 2015 of a member of the RUFP to be the Spokesman for the formal alliance of all political parties in the country means Sierra Leone is now at an optimum peak of successful consolidation of  democratic and peace credentials.


Clearly, the former rebels now have an indisputable voice in the political process. No more going to the bush to fight and kill! Now they can use Constitutional democratic tenets to effect change.


It is not far-fetched to say that much of the current national cohesion and peace building is because of the kind of leadership being provided by President Ernest Koroma - It is under Koroma that so much consolidation of our democracy has happened.


It is no coincidence that when U.S. President Barack Obama wants to speak about African democracies, the very first country that comes to his mind is Sierra Leone under Ernest Bai Koroma. No, it is no coincidence nor was it a slip of his tongue when Obama openly expressed admiration for how deeply we have consolidated our peace in the past few years. The truth is that Obama admires and respects us because the peace-building & democratic credentials of Ernest  Koroma are just awesome. And for that reason, many of us do stand very proudly when we point at him and say: “There goes our President!”

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