From the Editor’s Keyboard

Western diplomats and Salone politics

By  | 29 August 2011 at 06:27 | 761 views

We have observed what looks like tension brewing in Sierra Leone between some Western diplomats and local civil society groups and politicians over recent pronouncements by the former on some sensitive local political issues.

Usually diplomats in Sierra Leone and indeed the rest of Africa have always been told to mind their own business, to shut up and stop interefering in the politics of the host country with the argument that African diplomats in Western countries never talk about bad governance in those countries or comment on the usually very acrimonious political issues in those countries.

In Sierra Leone the head of the UN system and the American ambassador have recently come under fire for admonishing Sierra Leoneans to forget the past or stop digging into the past of the newly elected flagbearer of the main opposition party, the Sierra Leone Peoples Party. A massive demonstration against these two diplomats in Freetown is being planned by some civil society groups as we type these words.

Due to the country’s recent history, there is no way Western governments and their representatives in Freetown, especially the American and British envoys and the UN boss in the country would support an investigation into some of the dreadful acts of the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC) military junta which Julius Maada Bio, the new SLPP flagbearer once headed.

The NPRC was initially recognised and accepted by most of the Western diplomats in Freetown in 1992 through the intervention of some well known Sierra Leoneans at home and abroad (most of them opponents of the then APC government of Joseph Saidu Momoh). Support for the NPRC from Sierra Leoneans and Western governments quickly fizzled out however as the junta launched into a thieving and killing spree. They even beat up, jailed and pushed into exile some of their fellow citizens who once pleaded with Western diplomats to accept them (the NPRC junta).

So, investigating the NPRC would be like investigating the actions of the British and American diplomatic missions and the UN in Sierra Leone between 1992 and 1996. The British and American envoys and the head of the UN in Freetown at the time would have a case to answer because they aided and abetted a cruel and devilish military junta that imposed hell on the people of Sierra Leone. They would have a case to answer, would they not? It is therefore not surprising that they would like the past to be forgotten. Smart guys.

On the other hand Sierra Leoneans have to think about peace and stability in their country in this uncertain world of horrible recession, hyper inflation and terrible violence. Do they want a peaceful atmosphere to rebuild their country or do they want to create another orgy of vengeance, burning to the ground once again the structures that were recently painstakingly rebuilt? Or is it just about rubbing into the dust and halting the political career of an opponent while humiliating and disgracing some Westerners in the process? Is it really worth it?