“Sierra Leone Today is at a Cross Road because half of the people in the country are desperately trying to lift and push the country up the Hill of progress, development, stability and peace. But the other half of the country, and without releasing it, are trying to pull the country down the hill and keep the country where it is. Poor, underdeveloped, divided, full of political tensions. But this is Not and Must Not be the Future of this Great and Beautiful Country -the Only Place that we Call Home”. He Stated.
Sharing what was happening in other parts of Africa, the chief Minister stated that; twenty five Years ago, the country Rwanda went through a similar devastating Civil War and even Genocide. He said the International Media painted Rwanda, just like Sierra Leone, as part of the manifestation of a Hopeless Africa and that Nothing good will ever come out of Africa. But Today, Rwanda has defiled all the odds and the country is emerging as one of the most developed, progressive, stable and peaceful countries in Africa
The Chief Minister Said he was not in any way suggesting that everything was perfect in Rwanda, but the example of Rwanda shows that Sierra Leone can do the same.
He reminded the participants of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission Report of 2004 which clearly stated: “It requires Committed Leadership to create a New Sierra Leone”. He said that was why we were gathered at Bintumani for 3 Days – to engage in a National Dialogue for a New Sierra Leone
Explaining what Bintumani 3 was about, the Chief Minister said, Bintumani 3 was NOT about the on-going Commissions of Inquiry and Bintumani 3 has no mandate to end the Commissions of Inquiry legislated by Parliament: Not about Corruption allegation Cases. He emphasized. Bintumani 3 he said was also NOT about the current Elections Petitions in the Courts. “This Government will not interfere in the judicial process and the Rule of Law Must and should prevail in this Country.
Adding that, Bintumani 3 was NOT a Truth & Reconciliation Platform and that Sierra Leoneans should not expect former Ministers or Government Officers turning up to say sorry for any Corruption allegations and asking for forgiveness.
Stating the purpose of the conference, Chief Minister simply put that, Bintumani 3 was about bringing everyone together in an Inclusive process to discuss how to build an Infrastructure for Peace in the form of an Independent Commission for Peace & National Cohesion as announced by H. E. the President. He said Bintumani 3 was to share ideas on how to build a permanent structure for long-term peacebuilding and to prevent violent conflict. Adding that, establishing the foundation for Inclusive Peace in the New Sierra Leone that the TRC Report has called for and laying the long-term and resilient foundation for Non-Violent Conflict Resolution was key in the Bintumani dialogue.
“But we all know that Conflicts will always exist and that Conflict is just part and parcel of our human existence. So Bintumani 3 provides the opportunity in the form of a Permanent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion to help us prevent Violent Conflicts in Sierra Leone and through this Peace & National Cohesion Commission, we can prevent our Political, Social and Economic Tensions and Conflicts from escalating into armed Violence & from disintegrating into Armed Conflict” He stated.
He said NEVER AGAIN can we take up arms or use violence to resolve our Socio-Political Tensions & Differences. Stating that, Bintumani 3 provides the unique opportunity to build the local capacity for Insider Mediation. Because for far too long, we have relied on External Actors & the International Community to help resolve and manage our violent conflicts.
He said ‘Now’ was the Time to build our own Local capacity for Long-term Peace, for Conflict Management & Resolution as the Bintumani 3 will help us to strengthen our Resilience to Conflict and Turbulence.
The chief Minister said, Building, Maintaining and Securing Long-term Peace and National Cohesion was a very difficult process. Something any society cannot achieve overnight and it is not a Quick Fix Solution. He said the Inclusive process of Bintumani 3 will lead to the establishment of the Independent Commission for Peace & National Cohesion as a permanent Infrastructure for Peace and above all, Bintumani 3 and the Peace & National Cohesion Commission that will be established will lay the strong Foundation for Sustainable Development: For without Peace he said, there will be no Development & Without Development, there will be No Peace.
“So Bintumani 3 is about the future of Sierra Leone, about the future of the New Sierra Leone that TRC has called for in 2004 And this is a collective and Inclusive process because we know that in Sierra Leone & anywhere in the world: A Single Hand Cannot Clap, A Single Foot Cannot Create a Footpath –We are all in this Together. Therefore, No One, No Group, No Political Party, and I Repeat, Can ever Say that they Do NOT Support Peace & National Cohesion. He said.
Explaining how we got to Bintumani 3, the Chief Minister stated that;
o “It all started with Bintumani 1 when Sierra Leone was again at another Crossroad
o At the height of the Civil War, the Country had to make the difficult decision to either Have Democratic Elections Before the End of the War or to have Peace Before Elections
o The Country was divided, but it took Committed Leadership to Convene Bintumani 1 in August 1995 to make the historic Decision that it was better to have Elections Before Peace
o Today we are all benefiting from the Historic Decision of Bintumani 1 & the Commitment to Democracy & Peace
o After Bintumani 1, the Country was faced with yet another difficult Decision and another Major Crossroad moment in the history of the Nation
o Bintumani 2 was convened in February 1996 for the Nation to decide on whether to hold Democratic Elections as announced Or to Hold On to Power by the NPRC Military Government
o Bintumani 2 made the Historic Decision to End Military Rule and Organise Democratic Elections
o Today, we are all enjoying the benefits of the Historic Decision of Bintumani 2 and the commitment to Democracy
o So Today, we have Bintumani 3 and it is about the commitment to Democratic Consolidation for Peace & National Cohesion”
Giving an Open Secret, he said ONLY one Person, One Personality, One Committed Leader, has been at the Centre and the Driving Force for Bintumani 1, Bintumani 2 and now Bintumani 3. That Person, that personality, that National Leader he said was President Julius Maada Bio.
“Brigadier Julius Maada Bio as Deputy Chairman of the NPRC Government, was part of the Bintumani 1 Decision in 1995 that made the commitment to Democracy & Peace. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio as Chairman and Head of State, forced Bintumani 2 to happen in 1996 and the historic commitment to end his own Military Rule, Organise Democratic Elections and peacefully hand over Power to the Democratically elected Government of late President Ahmed Tejan Kabba. Today, Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio as the civilian President of the Republic of Sierra Leone has organized Bintumani 3 to Consolidate Democracy for Peace and National Cohesion.” He said.
He said because of Bintumani 3:
ü NEVER AGAIN can we take up arms to fight to resolve our Socio-Political Conflicts and Differences
ü NEVER AGAIN can we reply on outsiders and External Actors to manage and resolve our conflicts
ü NEVER AGAIN can we fail our Children & Grand Children to Plan for Long-term Peace & National Development.