The Sierra Leone Web


From: Alhaji Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, President of the
Republic of Sierra Leone & Leader of the
Sierra Leone Peoples Party (S.L.P.P.)

To: ALL S.L.P.P. Members
31 August 1998


Dear Party Members.


Since I returned to Sierra Leone after my forced exile in the Republic of Guinea, I have not had the opportunity to talk to you all, as a Party and as my loyal supporters. Forgive me for this lack of communication. You, I am sure understand how busy I have been during this period, and how difficult things have been for me. The junta left, in their very much wake, a devastated country, its infrastructure in shambles, its economy ravaged, and a myriad of problems for government. To add to my problems, I had terrible personal tragedies: the deaths of our great friend and ally, General Sani Abacha, and of my wife.

I thank you very much for the sincere support you gave me during these traumatic days. But for your loyalty and support I do not think I would have been able to sustain these bitter losses. I want to thank you also for your loyalty and sustained support on the tragic death of the Reverend Paul Dumbar, our Party Chairman, and on the passing away of my Deputy Minister of Works, Energy and Labour, Dr. Foday Ngongou. I should not forget, in this connection, all those (and their dear ones) who suffered untimely death and mutilation -- and the degradation of being raped -- by evil men and women who plagued and are still plaguing our once peaceful and happy country. I thank you for your courage over these terrible months of suffering, the unflinching hope that has buoyed us up, and is giving strength to you, me, and this nation. Your faith and your prayers have sustained not only me and the Party, but more important still, this wonderful nation which it has pleased God to give me the privilege to lead.

This brings me to one of the two important matters I want to talk to you about, namely, my role in the Party, and my overall role in the nation. Primarily, I am President of this country; responsible for its governance and its security. In this capacity I am helped by many able and loyal men and women, mainly in my Cabinet, in the Civil Service, in the Armed Forces (those who have remained loyal to their oaths of office), and in several other walks of life. But, ultimately, as a United States President used to say, "The buck stops here." It is at the President's desk responsibility for all government decisions stop!

This is an enormous responsibility.

The making of good and sound decisions is not easy. This must take most of my time and considerable thought. To govern well is my primary duty, a duty that recent events have made most difficult. Sierra Leone is one of the poorest nations in the world, with massive displacement of population, large unemployment, a battered economy, great health problems, a ruined infrastructure, and a wrecked educational system. To these problems I must give my closest attention, day and night. The nation deserves a better deal than has been handed out to it these twenty years or more, particularly in the last seven years of rebel destruction.

I cannot, therefore, equally give close attention to the Party and its problems. That is why, in our collective wisdom, we have devised a careful structure for the Party. This structure is nation-wide, to take care not only of the large geographical units, but also the smallest ward in the country. It is for you to see that this structure works efficiently to fulfill the aims of the Party, to make this country on one unified people, with a vision of a better world for all its people. It is for you to see that the Party structure is manned and ‘womanned' by honest, dedicated, able, just and intelligent people.

My own task is to improve the country for all Sierra Leoneans without forgetting to help the Party, to give you support, to give you encouragement. My role complements yours, for the development of our beloved Sierra Leone. Please allow me to concentrate on my main role. I am sure you are fully capable of fulfilling your own role, for which you will always get my support. And I am sure you will also help me to fulfill mine.

Naturally, as your leader, I expect you to approach me whenever you have personal problems. I also know that you would not like me to help in a way that will bring the image of both the Government and your leader into disrepute. I therefore have concluded that I have the understanding of all those who have not benefited, materially, from me. I shall in my own little ways, within my limited and legitimate means, do what I can to help in situations of need. Regrettably, I cannot solve every Party member's problems. I should, therefore, like to take this opportunity to ask for your understanding, that when Sierra Leone prospers we shall all prosper and be entitled to demand our fair share of the prosperity.

The second matter I want to talk about is my role in the entire political set-up of the country, not merely in the context of our Party, but of all the Parties and political stakeholders. In 1996, the SLPP fought a hard and difficult election. We won both the elections for parliamentarians and for the Presidency because of the feeling of the electorate that it was time for a change from the long wasted years of one-party rule; of their perception ( and rightly so), that our Party has a good track record, and given the chance once again, it would play by the rules of the game and keep faith with the people of this country. But, as I have already mentioned, in spite of these advantages on our side, the election was hard fought but not easily won. Inn the end we decided to form a broad-based government, SLPP led, but not SLPP dominated. We decided to put representatives of other Parties in our government, especially those who were our staunch allies in the election for the Presidency.

This decision was convenient at the time, as a matter of strategy. I also believe it was the correct decision to make in the present circumstances of the state. We are riven by a brutal, even savage rebel war, which has ruined all the assets of the nation. This is a time for healing, for reconstruction and recovery. For this revival to be effective and lasting, we need all the talents of this nation to help me and my government, and, in the difficult task of governance, we cannot accept the negatives of political, tribal, religious, class, and social animosities and in-fighting. We need to harness together all the positives of the nation for the gigantic task of revitalising it.

My role here, as I plainly see it, is to recruit all men and women with meaningful contributions to make, and for all of them to join us in this national emergency. And in this context, I see myself as encouraging these helpers to help the nation.

This does not mean that I will neglect my Party on whose goodwill and hard work and track record of service to the nation I was elected President. The debt I owe to the Party is enormous, and I cannot forget it. But, as President of Sierra Leone, my position must transcend narrow party politics, and must embrace the whole nation.

This role, I am sorry to say, is often misunderstood by some Party stalwarts. They believe I should concentrate only on the Party, and entirely ignore people from other Parties or political persuasions, though I still believe that SLPP leadership is the only way forward for our beloved country.

Now that I have fully explained my position and the circumstances within which I am working "for all Sierra Leoneans". I do hope everyone of you will help me to revive this broken country. Once again, I thank you sincerely for your loyalty and support. I am sure that I will always get them, as we complement each other for the good of Sierra Leone.

God bless you, and Sierra Leone, the land that we all love.


Alhaji Ahmad Tejan-Kabbah
President of the Republic of Sierra Leone.