22 Years Ago Today…
31-year-old Brigadier Julius Maada Bio Addressed the Nation Laying the Foundation for Peace, Democracy and National Reconciliation
The scale of the reshuffle surprised even those politicians who voiced support for Tuesday’s coup in the impoverished West African nation and said they trusted new strongman Julius Bio’s declared intention to stick to the Feb. 26 election date. Source: Reuters. Sierra Leone Coup Leaders Name Cabinet. January 21, 1996.
Brigadier Julius Maada Bio
Address to the Nation over SLBS Radio
17th January 1996
Fellow Sierra Leoneans, following the events of yesterday, Tuesday, 16th January 1996, it is my honour to address you as chairman of the reconstituted NPRC and head of state. Let me start by saying that the government of the NPRC established by the proclamation entitled “The Administration of Sierra Leone, NPRC, Proclamation 1992 [words indistinct] in public places, No. 20 of 1992, remains the same. It is only the leadership that has changed.
Let me at this time [word indistinct] allay the fears of my compatriots and the international community at large, by reiterating that the NPRC government is so preoccupied with the two major issues of peace and the ongoing democratic process.
Fellow Sierra Leoneans, you will agree too that our country has suffered for far too long, and that we should now adopt all measures necessary to put that [past] behind us. In that regard, I now call upon Corporal Foday Sankoh to come out and hold dialogue [with us] and formally present his case for our people and the international community to hear. [Words indistinct] with the opportunity to clearly state his concern and [words indistinct] into the programme for the [social] development of this country. Let us put the past behind us and work towards the future for the good of our beloved country.
To you, Corporal Foday Sankoh, the message from my government is that we are prepared to meet with you anywhere, any time and without precondition, as we have always said. We renew our offer of amnesty for all RUF members and combatants, and assure you of safe conduct, together with all the documents necessary to facilitate participation in peace talks. We hope that for the sake of the people of Sierra Leone and for posterity, this time you will respond positively. We appeal to the international community and men of good will to assist us in the search for peace, so as to promote the ongoing democratization process.
Fellow Sierra Leoneans, the democratization process which began in June 1995 with the lifting of the ban on political party activities, continues unabated and is still on track towards the holding of presidential and general elections on 26th February this year. In order to ensure transparent, free and fair elections [words indistinct] for all political parties, all persons in government who have openly declared or otherwise manifested involvement in party politics shall be relieved of their duties. Shortly, I shall make known to the nation the composition of my new government.
To the officers and men of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Sierra Leone, let me remind you that the restoration of democracy in this country is now inevitable. In that regard, you are expected to play a role only as soldiers concerned with the security of the state and, above all, the preservation of our territorial integrity and the security of the people of Sierra Leone. It is, therefore, incumbent upon us to be loyal and obedient to the government that will eventually emerge from the forthcoming election. Members of the Armed Forces, you are expected to play a neutral role in the politics of the state. You must therefore not allow yourselves to be used as tools by the politicians. The Armed Forces is a professional organization and must remain so. Let us resolve to leave a legacy of pride, honour, unity, in serving our nation in that capacity.
Fellow Sierra Leoneans, before concluding this address, let me once again assure the international community that our commitment to restore this country to democratic civilian rule is irreversible. We therefore appeal for continued support and assistance towards the realisation of our democratisation programme.
Fellow Sierra Leoneans, the issue of national reconciliation still remains another special concern to me. In that regard, I shall be establishing a National Commission for Reconciliation without further delay. This commission shall look at all the mistakes of the past, and come out with recommendations that may allow all rebels, politicians of the past, present government and military officers [word indistinct] to contribute to the general development of the nation without fear or persecution.
The events of the past few days have clearly demonstrated the need for all of us, civilians and members of the Armed Forces alike, to work together to ensure that unity, peace and stability prevail in our country. I therefore call upon you all to give us your fullest cooperation not only in the search for peace, but also in the march towards the restoration of democracy in Sierra Leone.
To the political parties, I wish to say again that you are our partners in the attainment of the objectives of the democratisation process. We therefore call upon you to cooperate with my government towards the realisation of those objectives. Let me emphasise that we shall play our part in ensuring that unity, peace, democracy and human rights are upheld throughout the very limited period of our stay in office.
Long live the Republic of Sierra Leone, and I thank you all.
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