By Ralph Sesay
The Minister of Tourism and Culture, Madam Memunatu Pratt, who is also a renowned peace expert across the globe and within the sub region, has said in Freetown that the Bintumani dialogue conference, which will start in Freetown today and end on Saturday, 25th May, 2019, will not be about intra party conflicts but would rather be looking to fulfilling a long term recommendation of the Lome Peace Accord – a blueprint that ended the eleven years senseless war in the country.
She categorically noted that the Bintumani conference would merely serve as a platform towards the development of a National Peace and Cohesion Commission, which, she recounted, is also part of the policies of the African Union and other regional bodies.
The Tourism Minister further disclosed that the Country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report, which had one time attained the status of the highest selling book in the world, had catalogued some failings in the country, which are concrete justifications for the establishment of a Peace and National Cohesion Commission in the country.
The peace expert noted that they, as people interested in peace consolidation, have been pushing for the past ten years to get government to establish the Peace Commission in fulfillment of the recommendations of the Lome Peace Accord. She disclosed that they have worked extensively with the Peace Commissions in Ghana and Kenyan, and that the current Government is only now starting the process towards establishing the Sierra Leone Peace Commission.
“The Peace Commission, like the Anti Corruption Commission and the Human Rights Commission are also critical structures towards the sustainability of the country’s peace and democracy,” she stated.
Madam Memunatu Pratt called on the parties that have refused to attend to have a rethink and attend the conference.
It has become crystal clear that the people, whose business it was to propagate the purpose of the Bintumani Conference on the side of government, have served to confuse the people the more largely because they have anchored the purpose of the conference on the current intraparty problems confronting our peace. They have cited an attempt, both at national and international level, to discredit the new administration and rising and visible political tensions between the opposition and the ruling party as immediate reasons for convening the dialogue conference.
Many who spoke to this medium have noted that the Conference would not be about looking at the issues of election petition cases in court, the Commissions of Inquiry or the sacking of one set of the country’s political divide from political positions. The conference would create a platform that will generate discussions around the strengthening of Sierra Leone’s peace architecture with a view to sustain peace and democratic governance.
The main opposition All People’s Congress, the Coalition for Change and the People’s Movement for Democratic Change would not attend the conference due to several reasons. The Ministry of Political Affairs has disclosed that they have ensured all critical players to the country’s future are invited to have a say in the conference.