The Sierra Leone Web


U.N.P.P. Statement


An article by one Elihu Noah was published in a recent issue of a Freetown newspaper under the headline: "U.N.P.P Calls For Power Sharing." As the national leader of the United National People's Party (UNPP), it is my duty to respond with the following statement:

Former members of the Party whose unconditional expulsion from membership of the Party was reported to the Speaker and whose seats in Parliament should have been declared vacant, have no authority to represent, or to speak on behalf of, the UNPP.

The Party has not taken any official position on the question of "power sharing" and does not intend to seek any posts in a so-called government of national unity. We believe that being the leading opposition party in Parliament is important and that we can, by remaining out of the government, help to prevent an easy lapse into a one-party state as has occurred before.

The UNPP has, from the beginning of the Nigeria-led ECOMOG invasion, held the view that it is wrong to try to achieve a political goal by using military force. We have therefore not supported either the overthrow of the government by the AFRC coup d'etat, or President Kabba's appeal to the late General Abacha to use ECOMOG troops oust the AFRC junta. We abhor all the deaths, injuries, atrocities and destruction of towns, villages and personal property and the trampling of individual human rights that combatants on both sides, albeit not in the same measure, have caused. We sincerely believe that dialogue in good faith by all combatants is the only way to end the ongoing fighting and bring enduring peace to our country.

We therefore fully support the almost universal call for a simultaneous declaration of a cease-fire by all combatants, with no pre-conditions. This cease-fire should lead to discussions that will result in a Peace Agreement between the government and the AFRC/RUF.

We hope that, as soon as possible after a Peace Agreement has been reached and adequate security for safe travel to and from all parts of the country has been assured - hopefully with the help of OAU or the United Nations - a truly all inclusive NATIONAL CONFERENCE will be convened to enable the people of Sierra Leone, through their democratically chosen representatives, to reach agreement by consensus on the future governance of our country. Participants at this national conference should include representatives of all political parties, former combatants from both sides, all civil society groups and organizations including Paramount Chiefs. Consensus should be reached on such important matters as: the necessity or otherwise of an interim government of national unity, necessary revisions of the Constitution, parliamentary elections based on constituencies, and the obligation of the government to resign if it loses a parliamentary vote of confidence.

We believe that no pre-conditions should be set for ending the present conflict.

We urge President Kabba and true friends of our country in the international community to accept that the so-called two prong policy of engaging in armed conflict and pursuing a dialogue for peace at the same time has failed to bring an end to the fighting and that the only hope for a peaceful resolution of the conflict is to give full support to frank and honest dialogue.

Meanwhile we plead with the international community to give as much attention, as they are now with no delay giving to the situation in Kosovo, to helping the non-governmental relief agencies in their efforts to bring relief to Sierra Leonean refugees and internally displaced persons.

We pledge that as soon as Parliament remedies the unconstitutional interference in the internal affairs of our Party, and the State of Emergency is lifted so that members of our Party will be able to exercise, without fear of being arbitrarily arrested and imprisoned or even killed, their constitutional rights of freedom of speech and assembly, we will faithfully undertake our responsibility to safeguard the democratic rights of our people by positive and constructive criticism in Parliament.

We therefore invite all our fellow citizens who are looking for a way in which they can influence political decisions which will benefit the majority of our fellow citizens instead of only the privileged few, to join us in championing a return to genuine democratic constitutional order in our country.