Time To Be President Of All Sierra Leoneans

by Sierraeye

In 2017, Sierra Leoneans voted for President Julius Maada Bio and the Sierra Leone People’s Party to rule our beloved country for a term of five years. This term expires next year; until then, he is the legitimate President of Sierra Leone. It is important to be clear from the onset that no unlawful and unconstitutional change of government will and should be tolerated in our country. We must continue building on our democracy and learning from our mistakes.

Democracy is built through open societies with different and often divergent opinions. We cannot all agree on every issue and the best way forward for our country, but we must be willing to provide a space for us all to express our opinions, listen to each other and agree to disagree. Those who sell their ideas better, or some will say hoodwink the public, get to win elections and govern.

One of the concerns of our current democracy is the use of the phrase ‘terrorism.’ In my days as a lecturer of international criminal law, I used to admonish my student to be careful how they used the term. There is no accepted universal definition of the term, and it can easily be manipulated to refer to anything the user chooses to demonise. On countless occasions in history, politicians have used it in less than helpful ways.

There is a saying that “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” This may sound like a cliché, but history has taught us otherwise. History has shown that today’s terrorists can be tomorrow’s heroes and even heads of state. The clearest illustration of this is Nelson Mandela. Mandela and his African National Congress (ANC) were branded as terrorists in the 1980s. After apartheid was abolished, Mandela was democratically elected President of South Africa. He became a symbol of peace and freedom to the world and was subsequently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. His name wasn’t removed from US terrorist lists until just a few days before his 90th birthday in 2013, shortly before his death.

There are many other examples. Columbia’s recently elected President, Gustavo Petro, was once considered a rebel. Hezbollah and Hamas are considered as terrorist groups, but to most people in the Arab world, they are regarded as freedom and resistance fighters.

Using terms like terrorism, insurrection, etc., to describe political opponents further divides our society when we need healing and reconciliation. It is best to avoid using these terms and focus on words that unite us as a country. President Julius Maada Bio is the President of the entire country. He must embrace all of us regardless of our flaws and divergent opinion and rule us as a nation. When a child falters, a good father does not disown him or call him names. He embraces the child and tries to address the problem. We want the father of our nation to do the same and be President of all of us.

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