Sierra Leone: Pujehun District Descendants Dialogue for Peace, Development

Participants at the conference keenly listening to the discussion

Descendants of Pujehun District last weekend converged in Pujehun Township to discuss peace, development, reconciliation, with the view to ending a protracted conflict among stakeholders.

The conference, which attracted traditional and religious leaders, government ministers, security apparatus, civil society organizations, students, pupils and other stakeholders, was held on Saturday, July 6, 2019 at Pujehun District Education Council (PDEC) Pavilion, Pujehun town.

The theme of the conference was "strengthen peace and unity among descendants of Pujehun district for development."

One of the conveners, Deputy Minister of Transport and Aviation, Sadiq Sillah said descendants of the district residing in the Western Area have been holding regular peace meeting for the past five months.

He said they thought it fit to take such peace and development discussion down to the people, who would suffer the most in terms of crisis.

He said when President Bio started the initiative of the Bintumani 3 peace conference; many people, even within his party, criticised the move, but later realised the importance of the said conference.

"We decided to replicate same in our district that is why we have started it at district level and we will be holding such meeting at chiefdom level as well," he said.

Sillah admonished all and sundry that they should be their brothers' keepers, irrespectively of political affiliation and that the development of Pujehun should always be atop of every agenda.

He said space should be provided to every category of persons within the district and that they should be talking with one voice.

He noted that what has been happening over the years was that when certain group of individuals started a project for the good of the people, other parallel group would rebel against it.

On his part, Chairman of the Pujehun District Descendants Association (PPDA), Ansu Kaikai, re-echoed what Sadiq Sillah had earlier said and observed that the district would only develop when there is peace.

He said the peace and development conference was timely and well in place because majority of the stakeholders were in attendance, thus noting that the forum would create the space for reconciliation.

He called on everybody to treat the peace and development process with the utmost seriousness it deserves.

Hon. Shiaka Musa Sama of Constituency 104 committed himself and his constituents to the peace and development process and assured that with the commitment of the other side, the protracted conflict in Sahn Malen would come to an end.

His former opponent in the conflict, Paramount Chief BVS Kebbie of Sahn Malen also committed himself and his people to the peace process.

Meanwhile, both PC Kebbie and Hon. Sama who have not been seen eye-to-eye as a result of the investment of the multinational company-SOCFIN, which the latter had claimed was not in the best interest of the Malen people, shook hands and hugged each other at the overcrowded PDEC pavilion.

All political parties representatives present at the historic meeting committed themselves to the peace process.

Minister of Information and Communications, Mohamed Rahman Swarray, who gave the keynote address started off by extending President Bio's greetings to the people and added that everyone knows that the president is a man of peace.

He said President Bio during the eleven years civil war, initiated the peace talk with RUF leader, late corporal Foday Sankoh.

"We all saw the Bintumani 3 peace and national cohesion conference which will be transformed into Independent Peace and Cohesion Commission," he said.

He stated that President Bio has demonstrated that he truly loves Pujehun district, hence he made history by appointing the highest number of indigenes in positions of trust.

However, the minister said the district that was doing extremely bad in education, infrastructure and witnessing a bloated number in teenage pregnancy due to the numerous challenges it is faced with.

He noted that for the past two years the district has not produce a WASSCE pupil that has got university or college requirement.

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