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  • Thursday, 25 July 2024



Titus Boye-Thompson, London


The APC Presidential candidate for the forthcoming elections in June 2023 arrives in London today for a series of very important engagements including a broad-based dialogue at a meeting organized by the Commonwealth Secretariat at Marlborough House to which the Sierra Leonean President, Julius Maada Bio has also been invited.


Marlborough House is situated on Pall Mall in Central London. It became the Commonwealth’s headquarters in 1959 at the request of Queen Elizabeth II. It has been the venue for independence negotiations and many Commonwealth conferences, including Commonwealth Heads of Government meetings. The Commonwealth Secretariat and Commonwealth Foundation are key institutions that have been involved in the development of Commonwealth countries supporting them in education, trade, political development, and peacebuilding. The Secretary General of the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC (Baroness Scotland) is sponsoring this discourse between the two key actors in the forthcoming elections in Sierra Leone as a precautionary dialogue to promote a free, fair, and non-violent elections process that will see the will of the people reflected in the vote…


It is interesting that this meeting has been called at this time when the elections are so near but political observers have indicated that this exercise was nothing new. The Commonwealth has always been tasked with engendering peaceful transitions and supporting countries to engage in openly democratic processes. The recent trend of a violent and despotic political environment in Sierra Leone has raised very serious concerns about the potential for a breakdown of law and order that would lead to more critical state collapse and an outright decline of peace in the country. These concerns are even more alarming when you consider the brutal implications of the last civil war in Sierra Leone which was a signal for the most odious acts such as the amputations of civilians, arson, drugs, and child soldiers. In the event, the international community is cautious that the country should never slide into such ravenous violence but with the prospect of such barbarous consequences becoming a reality, it is important that the Commonwealth and the British government take a very serious view of the situation and a first step in this attempt to bring the two adversaries together for a full and frank discourse within an environment of mutuality. The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 56 independent and equal countries. It is home to 2.5 billion people and includes both advanced economies and developing countries. 32 of its members are small states, including many island nations. Commonwealth member governments have agreed to shared goals like development, democracy, and peace.


Levelling the field

The events and flurry of diplomatic activities in recent weeks have seen the direct interest of the international community represented more so by the efforts of the British Government in attempting to reduce tensions by levelling the field of political participation and opening up access to democratic principles. The visit of the British Foreign Secretary, Rt Hon. James Cleverly MP, a very senior government official of Sierra Leonean parentage was particularly telling. The intelligence that provides the backdrop for these interventions must not be underestimated, given that the British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone, Lisa Chesney who took up the position in August 2021 had since 2018 been head of the UK counter-extremism Unit at the MI5. She has worked in security and defence with a range of countries and multilateral partners hence she is credited with a keen eye for such matters and the creeping volatility situation in Sierra Leone cannot be lost on her. In the event, this visit that was very actively facilitated by the British High Commission to the extent of the issuance of an express visa to enable Dr. Samura Kamara to make this meeting is in itself a significant development.


Full Schedule

For the period of one week, Dr Samura Mathew Wilson Kamara is expected to undertake a very tight schedule of engagements with APC supporters and the wider Sierra Leonean communities in the UK.  Arriving on Wednesday 3rd May, The Marlborough House Dialogue takes precedence and he will be attending on 4th May instant.  The APC Presidential candidate will join London’s Muslims at prayers at the Brixton Mosque and thereafter undertake a BBC Focus on Africa interview. There will be meetings and community engagements over the weekend culminating with a Town Hall meeting on Sunday 7th May. The APC Leader will appear before the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee where he is expected to outline the various measures that are currently in place that deter political plurality in Sierra Leone and constrained democracy from prevailing. This is a very powerful committee that has the authority to influence British Foreign policy such as whether to send in British personnel if the situation declines into open, full-scale violence. Dr Samura Kamara will be at Chatham House on Monday 9th May after which engagement he will leave the UK to return home.


The makings of a Leader

The high points of these meetings and engagements for Dr. Samura Kamara, knowing his wide appeal, would be the engagements he will have with the Sierra Leonean community. Dr. Kamara who has been married for over 20 years to a lady from the South and of the Mende tribe, grew up and attended school in Bo, the Regional Headquarter of the South, and spent time in Freetown before proceeding to the UK where he worked extensively at various international institutions such as the World Bank and the Commonwealth Secretariat before returning to Sierra Leone where he has served almost all hues of Government for the past 30 years, is no stranger to the nuances of Sierra Leone politics. He has travelled the landscape and has proven himself as a technocrat who values human resources and skills over tribal affiliations. Unlike President Bio who openly announced that he is only comfortable working with those people of whose culture he is apprised, Dr Samura is known to have personally supported and mentored many technocrats from the South of the country whilst he was Minister of Finance, promoted to very high positions people like Mathew Dingie and others who now form the backbone of the technical cadre, managing the affairs of the Ministry and the country within this current government. Through his mentoring approach, Dr. Samura Kamara is a team builder who does not have any hang-ups about working with people traditionally from parts of the country that are not considered strongholds of his own political persuasion. As a leader, Dr. Samura Kamara is focused on bringing the APC back together, extending a hand of collaboration to his opponents in the political arena. The inclusion of Dr Richard Konteh for example, in this delegation is to show that Dr Samura Kamara is concentrating on making sure that no one is left behind and that his political win for the Presidency would eventually become a win for all who support the ideals of the APC. These are the qualities that have made him so much loved, revered, and respected by the grassroots and the higher-ups in society with equal zeal. In him, the APC has the makings of a great leader indeed.


The UK is agog to welcome him. This London after all, is a place where he stayed and worked at very high-profile positions, unlike some of his detractors whose record in this country is nothing higher than a ride on the bus 36 to Peckham and regular visits to Southwark Council for rent and benefits!

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