President Bio addresses issues of unconstitutional political change in the region – Welcome to the Sierra Leone Telegraph


Sierra Leone Telegraph: July 31, 2022:

Last Thursday, President Dr. Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone chaired a special virtual summit of the second African Peer Review Forum (APR) of Heads of State and Government, discussing peer review efforts and unconstitutional changes in Africa.

“At a time when our continent is rocked by new winds of political instability, our commitment to the APRM is more than just a critical affirmation of our own agency and an endorsement of institutional strengthening. It also demonstrates our determination to address the issues of unconstitutional changes of government, peaceful dissent and free and fair elections.

“We are meeting today, virtually, to peer review the reports of the Republic of Kenya. I commend my brother President Uhuru Kenyatta for opening his country to the continental APRM secretariat review team” , did he declare.

He noted that the continent is disproportionately affected by a conflict in which Africa is not a party, adding that the position of the African Union has been clear from the outset that it would refuse to take sides but would encourage belligerents to negotiate to end a war that could have devastating ramifications far beyond the theater of war.

“I am encouraged by calls for peace from my peers across the continent. I would particularly like to commend the vigorous diplomatic initiative, led by the Chairman of our African Union, His Excellency Macky Sall, to seek an amicable settlement and, consequently, to mitigate the serious effects of the conflict on our continent.

“The APRM team analyzed progress on the Big Four Agenda and other salient issues in Kenya. Furthermore, it should also be noted that Kenya conducted the most focused reviews at a time.

“Given the growing number of targeted and national reviews undertaken by the APRM, I am encouraged that African countries are relentlessly focused on accelerating progress towards achieving the goals and priority areas of the APRM. Agenda 2063 of our AU. a growing recognition that we can realize the great dreams and untapped potentials of our continent,” he noted.

Read President Bio’s full speech here:

I would like to begin by welcoming you all to this 2nd Special Summit of the Forum of Heads of State and Government of the APRM. I am delighted to participate in my new capacity as Chair of the APRM Forum of Heads of State and Government.

I am particularly grateful and honored that you have entrusted my country, Sierra Leone, with the leadership of this multi-level organization for the next two years. Your collaboration and support will help us all maximize the impact of the APRM as we collectively assess and propose effective solutions to various governance challenges.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, we meet today, virtually, to peer review the reports of the Republic of Kenya. I commend my brother President Uhuru Kenyatta for opening up his country to the continental APRM Secretariat review team.

The APRM team analyzed progress on the Big Four Agenda and other salient issues in Kenya. Furthermore, it should also be noted that Kenya conducted the most focused reviews at a time. Given the growing number of targeted and national reviews undertaken by the APRM, I am encouraged that African countries are focusing unwaveringly on accelerating progress towards achieving the goals and priority areas of the Agenda. 2063 of our AU. recognition that we can realize the great dreams and untapped potentials of our continent.

The growing number of voluntary national and targeted reviews also shows that African countries no longer need to be incentivized to assess the impact of governance in their respective countries. This momentum and dynamism are encouraging. I am convinced that it will provide the impetus needed to achieve universal membership of the APRM in the near future.

Admittedly, the APRM may have encountered difficulties, but the regular evaluation of the efforts of African countries to translate[1]that is, policies to improve living conditions underpin the relevance of the APRM. His work has uncovered complex issues of governance, lifted unease around discussions of good governance and rekindled great optimism across the continent. Excellencies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen.

You will recall that, in an effort to make our conversations more constructive, the Forum used a format that brought together leaders from different regions of our continent. These paired commitments on the peer review of a report will ensure impartiality, openness and greater depth.

I am confident that this new format will enhance the quality of our future summits by helping to deepen the review process and enrich the views and perspectives that would be expressed in a transparent and candid manner. Excellencies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen.

At a time when our continent is rocked by new winds of political instability, our commitment to the APRM is more than just a critical affirmation of our own agency and an endorsement of institutional strengthening. It also demonstrates our determination to address the issues of unconstitutional changes of government, peaceful dissent and free and fair elections.

In Malabo, during the AU Extraordinary Summit on Terrorism and Unconstitutional Changes of Government, I requested the support of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government for a change of theme of the Report on Governance in Africa 2023. Indeed, recent political developments in some countries and regions of the continent have necessitated particular attention to unconstitutional changes of government. This phenomenon has the capacity to inflict great damage on our fragile systems of governance. The continental APRM Secretariat is also concerned about this phenomenon and has approached my office in this regard.

Letters have been sent to leaders of selected countries requesting the deployment of teams to assess institutional capacities – at the national level – to prevent and respond to unconstitutional changes of government. I am hopeful that these requests will be positively considered and that the continental APRM Secretariat will soon send review teams to these countries.

The African Union, together with the international community, should strive to support countries shaken by unconstitutional changes of government to ensure their speedy reintegration into their regional, continental and global communities. The position of the African Union should not be rigid and dogmatic. It should work with the authorities of the affected countries to restore constitutional order.

We should use our human, political and financial resources to build bridges, not erect walls. We need to engage countries in a sustained manner both to avoid further unconstitutional changes of government and to dispel mistrust of our positions as impartial interlocutors.

I therefore welcome the recent lifting of the sanctions imposed on Mali by the Economic Community of West African States. It is a step in the right direction. I hope that similar indulgence will be exercised towards other countries in other regions to facilitate transition processes and hasten the return to constitutional order.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, we must be uniform and consistent in our engagement with countries under sanctions for unconstitutional changes of government. The Regional Economic Communities and the African Union should stand in solidarity and adopt flexible strategies to deal with unconstitutional changes of government while always condemning these illegal methods of gaining power.

Africa cannot afford disunity amid the global shocks that have already wiped out much of the progress we have made over the past twenty years. Africa’s economic development has been hardest hit by global volatility and other trade and supply constraints intensified by the war in Ukraine following the immense impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Africa is disproportionately affected by a conflict to which Africa is not a party. The position of the African Union has been clear from the start: it categorically refuses to take sides and encourages the belligerents to negotiate in order to end a war with devastating ramifications far beyond the theater of war.

I am encouraged by the calls for peace made by my peers across the continent. I would particularly like to commend the vigorous diplomatic initiative, led by the President of our African Union, His Excellency Macky Sall, to seek an amicable settlement and thus mitigate the serious effects of the conflict on our continent.

His visit to Sochi in June, alongside His Excellency Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, to meet His Excellency Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, testifies to a consummate political sense and great moral courage.

The world, especially our continent, seeks immediate relief from this devastating war. There was a strong impact on the costs of fuel, food and investment financing. There has been a marked spike in inflationary pressures in our countries. The scarcity of fertilizers and wheat has further jeopardized food security and economic recovery on our continent.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, despite these acute economic, political and health upheavals facing our continent and the world in general, we must not despair. With persistent diplomacy and our unwavering faith in multilateralism, we can collectively find the solutions we need to weather the current geopolitical storms. Thank you for your kind attention.

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