Salone News

President Bio stamps his authority on Kono

21 January 2019 at 00:56 | 2178 views

Commentary

By Gibril Koroma, Toronto, Canada

Thousands of people in Kono turned out to welcome President Julius Maada Bio in Koidu, capital of the Kono district, east of the country, last week.

This was not the first time the president is visiting the city; he had been there several times during the political campaigning leading up to the March 2018 general elections.

But this was the first time he was returning to the diamond-rich district as the country’s democratically elected president.

Many were there to see him for the first time, having travelled from far and near; many of them did not even vote for him, neither are they members of his party, the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP). But they were all Sierra Leoneans and some foreigners celebrating the visit with tens of thousands of SLPP supporters. Kono is a land that attracts people from all over the world because of the diamonds. You can easily discover one in your backyard after heavy rains if you are lucky enough.

The Kono people are fiercely proud. They value their independenceand freedom to choose although very friendly when they want to be. That means if you want their support you have to work hard for it and show your love.

President Bio speaking in Kono last week

Kono supported the SLPP before and after the country gained independence from Britain in 1961 but she went over to the All People’s Congress (APC) in the late 60s and 70s. Then the country became a one-party state in 1978. Real politics around the country became dormant and sterile.

Multi-party politics was re-introduced in 1991 followed by a brutal civil war.

In the 1996 elections that were held in the midst of war, a devastated Kono voted massively for the SLPP headed by Ahmed Tejan Kabbah who said he he will end the war. The same thing happened in 2002 elections after Kabbah, the whole country and the international community ended the war.

But in the 2007 elections, with Tejan Kabbah no longer in the picture after his two terms, Kono suddenly changed again and decided to go APC. They voted massively for the APC in the 2012 elections.

But things changed again in Kono in 2018. They abandoned the APC and voted for the party of their son, Samuel Sam Sumana, leader of the C4C or Coalition for Change AND the SLPP. They would have voted overwhelmingly for the SLPP were it not for the emergence of the C4C.

But Sam Sumana’s popularity in Kono is gradually declining. That, and the fact that both the Vice President in the current government, Juldeh Jalloh, and the First Lady, Fatima Bio, were born and raised in Kono, means the SLPP is firmly entrenched in the district. (see photo of President Bio, Fatima and Juldeh).

President Bio has also appointed many sons and daughters of Kono into his government including Dr. Manyeh the Mines minister. He has, on this visit, promised to set up a university of science and technology in the district, something not only Kono, but the whole of Sierra Leone urgently needs in this 21st century.

First Lady Fatima Bio and Vice President Juldeh Jalloh

Indeed the Kono people seem to have a lot of enthusiasm and acceptance for President Bio and his youthful and rejuvenated SLPP at this point in time.

It is therefore very safe to say Kono will vote SLPP again in 2023 and beyond.

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