The Sierra Leone Web



Friday 26 May 2000


Fellow citizens,

As you are no doubt aware, the security situation in the country continues to improve. As far as the Freetown peninsular is concerned, I expect that with the implementation of the measures currently being announced the security in this part of the country will be further enhanced.

Having said this, however, I wish to state that there appears to exist a disturbing phenomenon that is hindering our ability as a nation to foster national unity which is so essential for the achievement of the peace we all long for. I am referring here to the tendency by some people with political ambitions to attempt to gain political mileage on issues that should not be politcised.

Fellow citizens, let us all acknowledge that in a democracy, elected leaders are entrusted with the responsibility of making decisions on behalf of the people, with the best interests of the people in mind. This is what my Government has been doing since I was elected President. This is not to say that the people have no right to question the actions of government. They certainly do, and Government is obliged to explain its actions to the public. However, in the act of governance, certain sensitive matters cannot be open to public discussion, particularly if such public discussion is likely to prejudice the desired outcome. This makes it essential that the public should have some faith in the ability of the government it elected to do what is right.

I therefore wish to appeal to all those with political ambitions to put aside political considerations for the time being and focus on assisting government in finding solutions to our current national crisis. I wish to appeal in particular to those people, including some Parliamentarians, who seem determined to gain political mileage from the present situation by making false and totally misleading statements about the actions of my Government. This is not the time to play to the gallery, nor is it the time to create disaffection for the government in the minds of the public. All democratic forces need to stand firmly together if we are going to be able to defeat the evil forces threatening to annihilate our nation.

Fellow citizens, it is widely acknowledged that my Government inherited an almost completely collapsed state. Those who wish to be fair will also acknowledge that while prosecuting the war and trying to bring peace to the country, my Government has been struggling to rebuild the same collapsed institutions that are necessary for a properly functioning state. While we have made some progress in this regard, our efforts have been hampered by the war which has also destroyed the country's economic base. Those who keep demanding that government should do everything under the sun should therefore bear in mind the fact that the resources available to government are extremely limited.

I will end this brief address by reminding us all that in July last year, we swallowed a bitter pill by agreeing to grant a blanket amnesty to all those who had committed human rights violations and other crimes against the State. We also agreed to include the RUF in government. While, at the same time, a few voices were raised in protest, it is clear that our choices were limited then. As a result of the sacrifice we made then, we have the support of the whole world today because it was now absolutely clear that Foday Sankoh and the RUF are the only impediment to the attainment of peace in Sierra Leone. It is therefore essential that we present a united front to the world so we can continue enjoying that support. Let all those trying to score political points forget about that for the time being. The time for that will come. For now, let us all focus on salvaging our nation, and leaving a proud legacy for future generations.

I thank you for your attention.