When the current President Julius Maada Bio was the then Head of state under the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC) in the 1992-1996 military government, he is on record for making strenuous efforts to make peace with then warlord Foday Saybana Sankoh. It is also on record that Julius Maada Bio, a then military strongman successfully engaged Foday Sankoh and his commanders and even brought Sankoh to the negotiating table in Freetown, which culminated in the holding of the Bintumani 1 Conference. Due to the inconclusive nature of this conference, a second Bintumani conference to seek the people’s mandate as to whether they prefer peace before elections or the other way round was similarly held. At the end of the 1996 Bintumani 2 conference, the people decided they wanted elections before peace and Maada Bio being a respecter of rights respected the people’s choice and this led to the holding of elections later in 1996 that brought the late former President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah to power.
Sierra Leone is again at a crossroads with negative talks about tribal, ethnic and political division which need to be promptly addressed. And it is against this background that President Julius Maada Bio is calling for a Bintumani 3 Conference; not primarily to discuss political issues, but to also look at other important matters that have the potential of derailing the hard-won peace Sierra Leone is currently enjoying.
Being the political and military strategist that he is, President Bio is actually nipping in the bud what would otherwise create further tensions among a country and people that is used to peaceful and tolerant co-existence.
It could further be recalled that President Bio during his speech at the State Opening of Parliament on Thursday, 2nd May, 2019 informed the House that 12 months ago, we recognized the fact that the past governance strategy was characterized by divisiveness, exclusion, and the weakening and subversion of state governing institutions. We promised to launch a Presidential Initiative that will herald a national conference on diversity management and the rebuilding of national cohesion. He added that his Government has prepared for the establishment of the Independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion and that a Green Paper has been submitted for consultation on how to achieve inclusive governance and improve on the infrastructure for peace and democratization. He went on to state that together with the Green Paper on Democratic Consolidation and National Cohesion, we shall host a National Dialogue Conference to be called Bintumani III on Democratic Consolidation for Peace and National Cohesion scheduled for 23-25 May 2019.
He added that he has initiated multiparty stakeholders’ dialogue meeting at State House with all registered political parties and that this initiative will promote political dialogue among political parties and help promote national cohesion. He further informed the House that this dialogue meeting will be held at least once every quarter or as when deemed necessary by any of the parties.