Sierra Leone’s former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Bulus Lolo, has expressed concern over the political instability in West Africa, particularly highlighting the situation in Sierra Leone.
The country, which experienced a devastating civil war three decades ago, is once again facing a political crisis.
Ambassador Lolo, while speaking during an interview on Arise News on Thursday night, emphasized the symbolic significance of former presidents in the national consciousness, noting that any allegations against them could impact the country’s image.
This is especially relevant in the case of former President Ernest Bai Koroma, who has been accused of involvement in an attempted coup.
The government’s response to such allegations is critical, as it reflects on the state’s stability, which is a paramount concern for any administration.
The intervention of the Economic Community of West African States was praised by Lolo as a step in the right direction. ECOWAS has previously dealt with challenges in Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea, and its role in Sierra Leone’s current crisis is seen as crucial.
Lolo called for extreme care in handling the situation, urging for peace maintenance, avoidance of hasty judgments, and actions based on solid evidence.
Regarding the Sierra Leone government’s legal actions, Lolo questioned the rationale behind obtaining a court injunction against Koroma’s movement if there was a subsequent change of mind.
He suggested that such a move could be perceived as an attempt to humiliate the former president. Lolo also drew parallels with the case of the former Liberian president, Charles Taylor, who was granted asylum in Nigeria, suggesting that sometimes a balance must be struck between expediency and necessity.
The situation remains delicate, with the Sierra Leone government facing the challenge of upholding the rule of law while navigating the complexities of regional politics and diplomacy.
The outcome of this crisis will not only affect Sierra Leone but also send a message to the entire West African subregion. It is a test of the government’s commitment to justice and its ability to handle sensitive matters with the utmost care.
He said, “First, it is unfortunate that West Africa is going through this phase once more, whereby the political landscape is not stable in places where you think and hope and would wish that things have settled down, as in Sierra Leone three or so decades ago we remember the crisis that engulfed the country and here we are in a civil dispensation having to deal again with political crisis.
“Koroma being a former president in Sierra Leone still represents a symbol in Sierra Leone given that the presidency is not necessarily tied to individuals.
“A former president of any country, whatever affects that person will affect the image of the country and this case Koroma was president not long ago and if he is alleged to have had a part in an attempt to topple another government, naturally the government in place will view things very seriously again because stability of the state is always a key consideration in the mind of any administration in office.
“But that ECOWAS stepped in, it’s the right step in the right direction, in my view, given that the regional bloc tried its hands in the events in Niger came out with, I don’t want to say it, but sort of bloody nose and it’s still not yet out of the woods with things unclear in Mali, in Burkina Faso, in Guinea and then now Sierra Leone.
“The case of Sierra Leone is one that must be handled with extreme and I put an axiom on extreme care because it only means that the country can tip over. Now, it would require great diplomacy, great tact, and sensitivity and sensibility in navigating the murky waters that surround the allegations. So, whatever needs to be done; first, is to maintain peace in the country; two, not to rush to judgement; three, base whatever action on concrete incontrovertible evidence, and this is what I hope the authorities in Freetown will grant to president Koroma and others who are alleged to have a part in the attempted coup.”
When asked if he believes the Sierra Leone government had obtained a court injunction to keep Koroma to face trial, he responded saying, most countries don’t want external involvements in their internal issues, especially, delicate ones such as this.
He stated, “Most countries frown on outsiders dabbling into their internal affairs, especially, if you couch it or give it the gap of rule of law. Now, if the government of Sierra Leone has gone to court and secured an injunction against the movement of the former president, the question to ask is, why are they at the last minute changing their minds? Does it have to do with an attempt to maximize the humiliation they want to bring on him? But enough of that, as a former president he’s been accused of having a hand or masterminding, as the case is, an attempt to topple a successive government.
“The other thing, of course is, when you hear a blind person inviting another to a shooting contest, it is said that blind person has stepped on a stone. Could it be the present president in Sierra Leone has stepped on a big stone that he believes would serve his course? But my view is this should be handled with utmost care because Sierra Leone must not be the one to send the wrong signal to the sub region.
“I’m not saying that anyone is above the law, no! If an understanding has been reached and the government was amendable to it, I don’t see what the government will suffer if they allow this to go through. Charles Taylor, we remember, in Liberia also came to Nigeria on asylum and things continued in Liberia then without any hitch. So, again, letting him go…, unless they fear that by letting him go…and again we don’t know the evidence that they may have…but whatever the evidence may be, sometimes you must strike a balance between expedience and necessity.
“So, here, we do not know, I can’t say, I’m not anywhere close to the facts, so, whatever, i express are just my personal views, but I think that it will be a wise wise decision for the government to go back to that agreement they had reached and allow Koroma to exit the country with dignity.”