The Sierra Leone Web



Freetown, 8 March 2002


Ladies and gentlemen of the media:

Thank you and welcome to this small gathering which I think most of you, and many other others, here at home and abroad, have been waiting for. You must be expecting me to say something about the upcoming electoral process. Specifically - and I do understand the reason behind this - people want to know my own intention at this crucial stage in the history of our beloved country, Sierra Leone.

Let me preface my remark by pointing out that I have always had a strong belief that any holder of public office, and for that matter any aspirant to such office, must realize at all times that he or she is a servant of the people. I have drawn inspiration from this belief, and I have used it as a guide in stating my intention concerning the elections.

Everyone knows that throughout my career at home and abroad, I have worked for no other service full time, but for the public service.

As a national civil servant I had the privilege of making my own modest contribution to the welfare of people in every Province and in the Western Area of my country. In the course of those tours of duty, from West to East, and from North to South, I experienced at first hand the social, economic, cultural and religious diversities of this country. If you ask me what I derived most from my civil service assignments throughout Sierra Leone, I will not hesitate to say: TOLERANCE.

Life in the civil service, especially as District Commissioner, taught me that tolerance or respect for the cultural, religious and other diversities of our people is one of the most important means of promoting harmony. Tolerance facilitates dialogue, conciliation and reconciliation at all levels.

As you know, my matrimonial union with the late Patricia Kabbah of blessed memory, a devout Catholic, was symbolic of both my own personal propensity towards tolerance, and the lessons I learned in my service in chiefdoms, towns and villages in various parts of this country. I have come to realize that tolerance is also one of the prerequisites of good governance and nation-building. Of course I have also learned that intolerance in any form, breeds hatred and conflict.

As an international civil servant working for the United Nations, the largest multi-cultural public service organization in the world, and of which my country Sierra Leone is a member, I also received, so to speak, further education in both the principle and practice of TOLERANCE. Working in an environment with people, and for people of different political, social, economic and cultural backgrounds, greatly enhanced my capacity to make a modest but effective contribution to world peace.

And here I am reminded of a line in the Charter of the United Nations: "...and for these ends, to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours..."

In my career as an international civil servant, I was totally immersed in a culture of peace; a culture that goes beyond peace-making and peacekeeping on behalf of those who are at war. I learned and worked to build peace, through projects for economic and social development.

In East and Southern Africa I saw at first hand the negative impact of internal conflicts on people, particularly the poor and disadvantaged. As an active participant in the planning and implementation of post-conflict reconstruction programmes in that part of the world I came to understand how team spirit, partnership, and cooperation can make a difference in the lives and livelihood of victims of war.

Ladies and gentlemen of the media, as we approach the forthcoming Presidential and Parliamentary elections, Sierra Leoneans of all political persuasion have called upon me both privately and publicly to consider the possibility of continuing in the capacity of Chief Servant of Sierra Leone for the next five years.

During the Presidential Elections in 1996, I made a solemn pledge to the people of Sierra Leone that if elected, I would bring the war to an end, and also create opportunities for Sierra Leoneans to realize their full potentials. I also pledge to begin the process of reconstruction and rehabilitation of our country.

Suffice it to say that with the help of the people of Sierra Leone and our friends in the international community, peace has finally returned to our country. I am also pleased to say that the process of reconstructing and rehabilitating our country is underway. However, the process of consolidating our hard earned peace, and similarly the process of reconstruction and rehabilitation has just begun.

I am convinced therefore, that given my well proven experience and record in office as Head of State, I am well suited to continue to preside over the affairs of the country for the next five years.

I believe that this is an opportunity for me to continue with the agenda of peace, national reconstruction and development that we have been trying to accomplish, in spite of the interruptions and distractions of a bitter armed conflict. I am also told that in asking me to consider their request, they were moved by what we have done in removing those stumbling blocks to peace and development.

I have heard the call. I agree that at this critical stage in our history experience must be the deciding factor in the forthcoming electoral process. I acknowledging their confidence in me, I agree with them that we have finally emerged from a series of turbulence and that we can see the horizon right ahead of us. I agree that we cannot afford to divert this ship off its present course towards the horizon of lasting peace and prosperity that we so urgently deserve.

Yes, I agree that experience counts. I am ready to accept the challenge. I also have confidence in my ability to meet the expectation of those who have approached me concerning the Presidential elections.

Accordingly, I have decided to accept the call and to renew my mandate as Chief Servant of this country. I therefore declare that at the forthcoming Convention of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party, I will be the Presidential candidate of my party.

May I seize this opportunity to thank you members of the media for your support during my first term of office.

Thank you.