The former President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma, has Monday, 11 October, 2021, hosted at his Goderich residence in Freetown, the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary General (UNSRSG) for West Africa and the Sahel, Mahamet Saleh Annadif. Along with the SRSG was the UN Resident Coordinator in Sierra Leone, Dr. Babatunde A. Ahonsi.
Sources in the UN Country Office in Sierra Leone indicate that the discussions bordered on peace, security and politics in Sierra Leone.
Observers believe that the engagement between Sierra Leonean statesman who is also the outgoing APC Chairman and Leader and the regional UN boss was part of a move to deescalate tensions between the ruling government and the country’s main opposition. These tensions have risen from what many believe had been a prime agenda by the ruling government to cripple the opposition through intimidation, oppression and incarcerations of it’s members in the last three years.
The engagement cannot also be unconnected with the stalemate that characterised previous bye elections, the outcome of some of which the opposition has vehemently rejected.
The ruling SLP has come under heavy criticism by prominent Civil Society Organizations over claims of masterminding electoral malpractices with the National Electoral Commission (NEC) acting in complicit. The Government has also been heavily criticised for using state institutions like the police and the military to suppress and intimidate opposition members as well as people who hold dissenting views.
Recent developments appear to indicate a shift within the international community relating to their engagement with stakeholders in the country. The focus is increasingly shifting to the main opposition, suggesting a growing disaffection with the ruling government.
A source in the Office of the former President says; “the meeting between the APC Chairman and the UN is very timely…and the discussion was very fruitful.”