In what is seen by some African political observers as tacit intervention in the sovereign affairs of the independent state of Sierra Leone, the Heads of States of ECOWAS, urged in large part by Guinea, Liberia and Cote D’Ivoire, the other three member states of the Mano River Union to which Sierra Leone is the fourth member, are increasing pressure on former President Ernest Bai Koroma to immediately retire from active politics.
The leaders have asks former President Koroma to stand back from Party activities and what is widely regarded as “Political agitation” caused by the widespread public protests against police requests to interrogate him or otherwise subject him to state control on account of his direct involvement in party political activities.
The recent interviews of erstwhile former Vice President, Victor Bockarie Foh and his insistence that his life was threatened if he had not accepted the position of Vice President seem to have contributed to this loss of confidence that the ECOWAS leaders have now built up towards their former colleague.
It is reported that the recent high level visit of an ECOWAS team to Freetown was instigated by the Maada Bio led government through diplomatic channels as a way of absolving themselves from any accusation of being the agitator in what is beginning to become a sign of impending state fragility caused by the internal strife fermenting in the country as the former President is reported to be ‘directly challenging the authority of the State to rein him in.’
This allegation has to some extent been supported by the Victor Foh interviews and the SLPP government is known to be pointing to Foh’s utterances that “no one is above the law except the sitting President who cannot be prosecuted under our Constitution whilst in office,” as irrefutable evidence of Koroma’s disregard for authority, his vindictive and unforgiving nature.
The SLPP government know that going after former President Koroma directly will bring unrest and they loathe the direct confrontations that his continued involvement in active politics is beginning to represent.
For the SLPP government to go after former APC Ministers and other senior Party officials in their alleged campaign against corruption and looting of state assets, they need unfettered access and EBK is a threat to that access. They know that there is a growing resistance to subject Koroma to police action and public scrutiny, so to avoid what would become a tribal conflict, ECOWAS, MRU and the UN office for Sahel and West Africa run by Ibn Chambas are all asking EBK to pull back.
ECOWAS leaders are also telling him that they can only deal with one head of State for Sierra Leone and Ernest Bai Koroma should move to one side and allow President Maada Bio to take the lead.
Apparently Bio had indicated to Ernest Bai Koroma that any assurances he thought he had with him are no longer guaranteed because he is under relentless pressure to subject Koroma to an open and public account of his stewardship.
What is not yet confirmed is whether Koroma will go with his Deputy Chairman, Minkailu Mansaray and National Secretary General, Alhaji Osman Yansanneh, two of his loyal and long time advisers mostly blamed for Koroma’s stranglehold on the Party.
In any event, it is reported that the SLPP government plans to knock out those two in separate criminal actions; Mansaray, under the ‘Hajjgate’ trials and Yansanneh, under allegations of misuse of public funds as absentee High Commissioner to Ghana and other countries, benefitting from state salary and other allowances when he was hardly available at his post to perform his diplomatic functions.