Has President Koroma set off on the right footing?

22 September 2007 at 20:24 | 728 views

By Patrick Hassan-Morlai.

Sworn in as President of Sierra Leone on Monday, 17th September 2007 and three days later, His Excellency Ernest Bai Koroma is leading a 17-man delegation touring three West African States. He first visited President Lanasa Conte of the Republic of Guinea, then stopped over at Liberia’s Roberts International Airport for an audience with President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and then to Burkina Faso for an audience with President Blaise Campaore.

It is hard to decipher the rationale or appreciate the purpose of these official trips. These are not timely visits not least because the President is new in office but also he has not had time to form a cabinet let alone address the violence that is nascent in certain parts of the country. Granted that the APC administration needs to establish contact with other states in the sub-region, it appears hasty and premature for His Excellency to start embarking on official trips at this time of his presidency.

In politics like in business, once gained, power has to be consolidated and the (internal) environment from which that power is derived and in which it is exercised has to be understood. Perspectives differ. As opposition leader few days ago, President Koroma would not be convincing to say he was privy to the essentials of the president’s office so that he now understands how that office operates in the Sierra Leone context. As short, he needs time to familiarize himself with the highest office in the land and stamp his own personality on that office. To set off on official trips in the week of his assumption of office is not the most appropriate decision to have been made. Perhaps a tour across the country would have been a good starting point, Mr. President.

Moreover, two of the three presidents visited do not possess admirable credentials for Sierra Leone’s buoyant multiparty democracy. To say it is public knowledge that President Conte is avariciously clinging unto power is an understatement. In fact, President Conte’s covetous hold onto power is an impediment to democracy and good governance in Guinea, the sub-region and Africa as a whole.

Similarly, Blaise Campaore’s rise to power is marred with blood. The overthrow of Mr. Thomas Sankara in 1987 and his subsequent execution was masterminded by Blaise Compaore. Of course, Mr. Campaore could be given some credit for having since instituted a multiparty system in Burkina Faso. However, such credit does not come in Carta Blanca. Apart from the fact that President Campaore won the past three presidential elections of that country with the last in November 2005, he fiercely resisted the call to limit the presidency to two terms. Hence, with a divided opposition, he succeeded in being re-elected for a third term. Campaore has been in office since 15 October 1987.

These two should not have been the leaders our newly elected President associates himself with for a start. Ever heard the expression: “show me your friends and I will tell you who you are”? Ours is a democracy with a maximum of two terms. No constitutional amendments will force us to revert to one party state or grant unlimited presidency to our leaders any more.

Please President Koroma, focus on consolidating your power base. A weak presidency is a recipe for instability and can stifle development. These are virtues every Sierra Leonean now longs for more than ever before. Please give us the leadership most Sierra Leoneans believe you posses by electing you as president. Certainly, foreign trips will come, but let them come at the appropriate time.