As Calls For Diplomacy Intensify… Pres. Bio’s International Clout Tested

As Guinean authorities continue their blockade of border lines against Sierra Leone, calls have been intensified on President Julius Maada Bio to embark on diplomacy with the Guinean Government.

President Julius Maada Bio is being urged by certain groups of Sierra Leoneans to engage President Conde by diplomatic means for the reopening of borders.

Sierra Leone Government however has made no comment regarding an engagement with the Guinean Government to ensure that trade and commerce flourishes in the two Mano River Union Countries.

Most Sierra Leoneans seems apprehensive and jittery regarding whether President Julius Maada Bio would succeed in his venture to cajole his Guinean counterpart to open up borders.

An insider source in a Guinean delegation to Sierra Leone last week has informed this medium that the Guinean Government deliberately shut down the borders to cause suffering in Sierra Leone.

Guinea’s move for a blockade has bearing on the allegations recently levied against the Sierra Leonean Vice President, Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh.

The allegations portrayed the VP Jalloh as one that had recruited mercenaries to destabilise Guinea in favour of Cellou Dalen D’Jallo, Pres. Conde’s main challenger in the just concluded elections.

A response is yet to be made by the Sierra Leonean Vice President since the allegations came out.

The allegation, no doubt, was the basis for the shutting down of borders on Sierra Leone.

Media reports have also shown that the Guinean Government has shut down its borders with Mali, Senegal and Guinea Bissau to fend off any possible intrusion into its affairs.

In the midst of such a dangerous allegation, questions of doubt continue to pour as to what strategies President Bio must pursue to turn the situation his favour.

The argument goes that if President Bio fails in his diplomatic effort, if there is going to be any, Sierra Leone would be economically hard-hit in the face of a Corona Virus pandemic.

Some Sierra Leoneans have persistently made reference to effort made by former President Koroma when Yenga village in Kailahun district was occupied by Guinean troops.

The former President was on record to have engaged the Guinean Government through diplomatic channels to restore Yenga to the people of Sierra Leone.

Former President Koroma showcased his diplomacy at its best when he temporally suspended his diplomatic engagements with Guinea after a brief military interregnum in Guinea.

He resumed talks with the Guinean authorities when democratic order was restored.

It was clear that effort by the former President resulted into the restoration of the honour and prestige of the people of Kailahun.

The restoration of Yenga brought pride not only to the people of Kailahun but also to Sierra Leone.

To many Sierra Leoneans, effort made by former President Koroma to secure the territorial integrity of Sierra Leone through peaceful diplomatic means is a leaf the current President should lend to do the same to avert suffering.

Torrents of doubt however continue to filter through the masses as to whether President Conde would accept talks from President Julius Maada Bio.

As usual, the aim of any political leader when he is newly elected in the midst of controversies is to explore means to stabilise himself in power most times by sealing off borders.

President Conde is no difference as he struggles to put behind pockets of resistance from voters in Guinea most notably from the side of Dalen D’Jallo.

Media reports have shown that President Conde’s main contender, Dalen D’Jallo does not countenance the election results, and has vowed to resist.

Some Sierra Leoneans have not ruled out any possibility of the aggrieved Guineans taking up arms against the government.

The current political situation in Guinea is a moment of an uneasy calm for President Conde, and must strive to stabilise it.

Talks of diplomacy to reopen locked borders may likely not be entertained now, but hopes ride high that it would be looked into in the near future.

As the blockade between Guinea and Sierra Leone continues, calls for reopening of borders have been made also by the business community.

Sanity, the traders appeal, must be restored for trade and commerce to be facilitated so that the economies of the two countries would not stagnate.

Sierra Leone Government is currently under pressure to engage its Guinean counterpart to ensure that the borders are re-opened to Sierra Leoneans.

The calls for diplomacy may not be unconnected to the unfavourable business climate that seems to have engulfed Sierra Leone.

A great number of Sierra Leonean businessmen, to a great extent, rely on Guinea for the purchase of most of its commodities sold in Sierra Leone.

Most of the country’s businessmen fear that money for business will be stashed away if the blockade continues.

Most traders have joined civil society organisations to pressure Guinean President Alpha Conde to reopen the borders.

One of the traders in the loud call for the diplomacy is Baby Conteh who sells assorted articles and ready-made clothes at Kabia Lot in Freetown.

Madam Conteh told Nightwatch that she was worried over the blockade as she could not travel to Guinea to do business as usual.

“I am always worried with my little money I have gathered since Guinea blocked its borders with Sierra Leone. By this time, I should have gone to Guinea to purchase another market to sell,” she expressed disappointment.

As the situation continues, it is safe to say money meant for business in Sierra Leone would be wrongly utilised if the situation in Guinea is not reversed.

The blockade has and still continues to negatively impact on the business community in Sierra Leone.

Amara Kamara who sells ready-made jean trousers and clothes at Garrison Street in Freetown also shares madam Conteh’s views.

Kamara is a regular traveller to Guinea to purchase stock of goods for sale in Sierra Leone.

He told Nightwatch that as of now he could not go into Guinea to run his business owing to the blockade.

“I am running out of stock, but I cannot travel to Guinea now for business as usual,” he said.

Thoronka, by all indications, cannot stockpile on his stock as the blockade does not augur well for him.

Despite the situation confronting Sierra Leonean traders, Thoronka is hopeful that the borders would soon be opened up for business.

Sierra Leone and Guinea have a lot to share in common, and the two countries depend on each other for smooth flow of business.

Sierra Leonean traders, most frequently, export locally processed goods especially ‘Garri’ to the Republic of Guinea where it is in high demand, and commands high price.

The local produce predominantly comes from the south and eastern part of the country and the trade fair town of Bamoi in Kambia district is the meeting place for Sierra Leonean and Guinean traders.

The current political situation in Guinea and its attendant consequences have also stalled trade activities in Bamoi.

Current trends have shown that Sierra Leonean traders have proved are at the wrong end  of the Guinean crisis thus paving the way for persistent calls for solution.


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