11 October 2010

Sierra Leone: Ahead of State Opening of Parliament - Minority Leader Blasts President Koroma for Bad Governance

Freetown — As President Ernest Koroma prepares to address parliamentarians at the State opening of the Third Parliament of the Second Republic of Sierra Leone today, Minority Leader in the House has lambasted the President for what he described as bad governance and acute poverty that has deranged the country since the All Peoples Congress APC came to power in 2007.

At the weekly press conference of the ministry of information and communication, Hon. Emmanuel Tommy of the opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party SLPP said the opening of parliament, where the President is expected to present his report card for the past year before the House would present him and his colleagues with the opportunity to clarify issues ranging from corruption, unfair distribution of the nation's wealth, bad governance amongst others, with the President.

"I will rate the APC government between 25% and 30% because there are lot more issues to be addressed," he said. "There is still high living condition in the country. During the regime of SLPP, we left a bag of rice at Le 65,000. Now it is Le150, 000; the exchange rate has skyrocketed; there is a clear discrimination in the distribution of the country's wealth starting with the appointment of ministers and heads of parastatals. But what is more glaring is the increase in human rights abuses, rape, armed robbery and among all, corruption is now the order of the day."

Hon. Tommy also noted that the quality of education has dramatically dropped since the APC administration took over the reins of the country.

Traditionally, President Koroma is expected to deliver his address based on performance during his tenure in office for the past three years. Sources close to the State House said the President will address issues bordering on the governance of the state and his successes and challenges in his first 36 months in office.

The ceremony will commence with a guard of honour at the fore of Parliament building to be followed by the presidential address to the nation. Strict security will be observed at the precinct of Parliament and its surroundings.

In his first address to the nation on October 5, 2007, President Koroma said: "A new dawn has broken on the horizon of our nation, bringing forth a new Sierra Leone, a new era of peace, security, stability and socio-economic progress in our country. A new Sierra Leone where there are no ethnic or regional boundaries; a new Sierra Leone where we work harder than we did before; a new Sierra Leone where our children learn better in school; a new Sierra Leone where market women and men prosper in their trade and a new Sierra Leone where the youth train and work to live productive lives."

In his 2009 speech, President Koroma said: "My government is guided by the cherished values of Action, Progress and Commitment. We are a government of all the people, dedicated to ensuring that our programmes benefit the common man and woman in every region, every district, every chiefdom and every village. We are a government that responds to the needs of the many; we do not feed the greed of the few. In partnership with our people, and with you as representatives of the people, we will prevail over those who act in bad faith and malice towards our people's aspiration for change. This is my pledge to you: We shall surely achieve the goals set out in our Agenda for Change."

The nation is waiting for what the next presidential address will promise to the people and also to see whether what he said in his last two addresses to Parliament will be in any way different.

Speaking to Concord Times, Momoh Turay of the APC said despite the challenges, President Koroma still has some development in store for the nation which he is confident the Head of State will deliver to the nation this morning.

An opposition party supporter, Balu Williams, said there was nothing new in what the President has been saying as the APC government was only fulfilling what the past government had set in motion before quitting power.

"Let's wait and see what the President is going to tell us this time around," she said adding that she was not expecting President Koroma to say anything new other than the much touted cabinet reshuffle. Most people this reporter spoke to said they are anxiously waiting for the President's address to the nation in his three years in office.

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