Solomon Berewa Speaks Out on the Election Aftermath with BBC Media Action's Claudia Anthony
|(Photo courtesy of Awareness Times)|
The elections are over in Sierra Leone and President Ernest Bai Koroma has been re-elected for a second term. Below are excerpts from an interview that BBC Media Action did with former vice president Solomon Berewa earlier this week in the nation's capital, Freetown. Claudia Anthony started by asking Mr. Berewa what he made of the election results, what they reveal about the nation of more than six million people, and the way forward.
Solomon Berewa: It is not a good model. We don't want this sharp division reflected in these elections. The whole of the North went APC [All People's Congress]; the Southeast–excluding Kono–went SLPP [Sierra Leone People's Party].
We don't want that situation to be a model which Sierra Leone should follow. We want the political landscape to be integrated—SLPP winning in the North, APC winning (seats) in the South. Let us have a national parliament, a national government. That is what we want.
Claudia Anthony: So what will this kind of voting pattern do to Sierra Leone's democracy?
Solomon Berewa: Well, of course, the solution lies in the President's hand now. He is the one who has to do something to dilute things a bit. You can’t do much about Parliament, but about the government, you can do something...to show that the government has a national complexion... national cohesion. Once he starts from there, then the so-called sharp division on ethnic lines will be blurred.
Claudia Anthony: Mr. Berewa you were once vice president. You were also a presidential candidate in the 2007 election. You are a man with vast experience. What will you recommend that this government and this president should do to bring national cohesion.
Solomon Berewa: Well, I met the President. I had a talk with him, and some of the things I mentioned included the need for him to follow up on some of the things which said at his swearing-in ceremony. He said he was holding out an olive branch to other parties. He wants every body to come and work with him. Well, if he pursues that and makes his government more inclusive, governance should be generally more inclusive. Not just ministers, there are so many areas...so many appointments which he could spread out. That’s the type of thing that will help in national cohesion—a national consciousness.
If government consists of people from only one side of the country, the other side excluded, it will not bring national cohesion. Then th[e] division which has been evident in the election will be sharpened. But if his government includes people from other areas, and there are people in his party from other areas, even though he did not secure seats in those areas, he could bring them inside his government, either as ministers or diplomats. There are so many things he can do [that] an ordinary person does not have the power to do.
Claudia Anthony: Before we leave, we want you to tell people Sierra Leoneans what you wish for this country, in the face of this kind of division, for things to return to normal.
Solomon Berewa: Reconciliation is the first thing. Without reconciliation peace will not come. If there is no peace, of course development is out of it. The election has come, to all intents and purposes, it is over now. The aftermath is what we should try to clear. It is like you having a[n] all-night party; in the morning you will have to clean your compound. That's where we are now.
The other things which the SLPP has asked for are a little more complicated. That won't be done by word of mouth. But there again, as I suggested to the President, let them meet. The political leaders of the SLPP and the President himself. He holds all the aces. Let them meet... discuss and find a way of resolving this in a way as to bring peace. SLPP is a very respectable party. It is a very strong party. What is the outcome of the election? It happened to me...sat down quietly. I am living. Somebody else took over. The party won't fall down because of that. It won't finish because of that. But let them meet and resolve this thing and let us forget this election now.