The presidential candidate of the main opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) has warned Sierra Leoneans against voting on tribal and regional lines in the presidential run-off election scheduled for March 27.
Speaking live on Radio Democracy FM 98.1’s ‘Gud Mornin Salone’ programme last Friday, Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio blamed President Ernest Bai Koroma and his All Peoples Congress party of being the architect of the current regional and tribal divide engulfing the country.
He made an allusion to the massive road construction the APC government has embarked on since 2007, which according to him, was concentrated in the northern region.
“The APC biased method of sharing the national resources makes one part of the country feels marginalised. Aside from the road leading to Bo and Kenema [in the southeast], there is no paved road leading to any other district headquarter towns in the south. But there is a paved road leading to all district headquarter towns in the north. Bonthe district does not have even one kiliometre paved road. So, when you distribute the resources of the country that way people will fill that it is a deliberate attempt to exclude them,” said Bio, who goes into the crucial second round election with a slender lead.
Bio, who emerged as the winner in the first round of voting with 43.3% among a crowded field of sixteen contenders, will face-off with the ruling party’s candidate, Dr. Samura Mathew Wilson Kamara, in the second round of voting. The momentum seems to be with Bio, and he says people have accepted his “New Direction” policy agenda.
“Our manifesto covers a range of issues critical to the development challenges of this country. We take time to highlight the real issues affecting citizens of this country and they have embraced it,” he said.
He revealed that he had already met with leaders of other political parties with a view to closing ranks, as they have a common purpose, to get rid of the APC.
He said the response from the NGC party, who came a distance third with 6 %, and Sam-Sumana’s C4C which won seven out of nine parliamentary seats in the diamond rich district of Kono, was positive.
Bio remarked that the management of the March 7 elections was relatively transparent, adding that the National Electoral Commission should be put under review because they seem to be bowing to pressure from APC.
He narrated that after the counting and recounting processes, a lot of revelation surfaced and that NEC ought to ‘sit-up’ not only at the top but also at the bottom, thus noting that the various employees of the commission should know that they are in a serious business that requires honesty.
“We have done our letter which we will take to NEC and present our evidences to them so that they would ensure that the next round of votes is clean. But there are a lot of things that actually didn’t go well during the first round of voting. Violence and intimidation was very visible,” he said.
The SLPP standard bearer refuted rumours that his government would go after street traders, but assured that if elected his government would provide alternative means for them.
Bio condemned the recent spate of violence in Bo, southern Sierra Leone and appealed to Sierra Leoneans to conduct themselves peacefully and desist from violence so that the second round of voting would be free from stress.
He, however, denied that his party supporters were involvement in the clash, noting that it is not only his supporters that are opposed to the APC. He concluded that violence would not solve any situation in the country and that development could only be achieved in a peaceful society.