By Momodou Jarju
Julius Maada Bio, President of Sierra Leone has revealed that a Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) is not meant to open up new wounds but serves as a catalyst to avert the past mistakes.
President Bio, who is on a three-day state visit to strengthen bilateral relationship with The Gambia, added that it is good to have a truth commission.
“It [TRRC] will definitely bring out certain lessons which you can incorporate into your governance structure, the way things are done and the way people relate to one another so that the mistakes of the past are not repeated. I think that is the most important thing,” he said yesterday at a joint press briefing held at State House, Banjul.
Bio said it is imperative to learn from the past and pay attention to the future as far as such realities are concerned, saying every nation is moving forward worldwide.
The leader of Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) said Gambia and his country have different experiences which they could use “as a way to chart the future.”
“We decided to have the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and people took part in that. I was there myself. The recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission have been properly documented and have guided us to be able to move forward as far as the development is concerned in that country. Actually as a guard way to make sure that we don’t go back to the bad habit of the causes of the war like bad governance, injustice and corruption. In fact the Human Rights Commission and Anti-Corruption Commission are all established as a result of TRC which recommended that in order not to go back to war we needed to make sure that we have systems and institutions in place that will prevent such.”
President Adama Barrow said Gambia should learn from Sierra Leone who after a bitter war was able to reconcile and move on.
“I think we have a lot to learn. We passed through a dictatorship of 22 years and our democracy has just started. And Sierra Leone, they are building on their democracy. Governments have changed hands about two to three times and that means Sierra Leone is accepting democracy. I think this is the only way we can take this country forward.”
According to him, his administration’s main focus is to build institutions.
On UN Security Council
Bio said, as the Chair and Coordinator of C10, he has always led the process of advocating for African common position clamouring for the continent to have two seats at the Security Council level.
“We never have problems or challenges with the support from The Gambia so the African common position is what we stand by and we will continue to stand by that. We insist to make sure that 1.2 billion people in Africa have a representation at the highest level; that is Security Council level. The Gambia has always been supportive. As a matter of fact, Africa as a whole is supportive of that position and we just shared our opinions on that to make sure that we advocate for that position to make sure that it actually happened within the security council of UN,” he said.
Barrow opined that Africa is speaking in one voice and united for the reforms of the UN Security Council. This was part of his maiden speech at the General Assembly of United Nations.
“Reform of the Security Council is what we are calling for. We are calling for equality. We want Africa to be recognized. We want Africa to be given position as far as the Security Council is concerned for accountability, transparency and for fairness. This is the message from Africa and everybody is on board,” Barrow stated.
Bio talked about the long standing relationship between the two countries which he wants to take to higher heights.
“We have shared a lot in common in terms of politics, economy, in terms of challenges we face and as leaders we have compared notes and we have identified areas where we can work together, share contacts and experiences,” he pointed out.
Barrow thanked Sierra Leone for the lead role it played in solving the problem in the Gambia, during the impasse. He said Africa’s dynamics are changing from coup plotting and wars that crippled the continents’ development towards democracy and rule of law.
“I think that is an indication that now… we are building our institutions. If you build your institutions it means institutions will dictate everybody. Not the president or who is in office is important. We know very well Sierra Leone has a lot of resources and I think we can benefit from that relationship,” he said.
The Gambia does very well in tourism, according to President Bio. He said there is a lot to learn from The Gambia saying it’s the favorite destination for tourists.
“We are also trying to learn from The Gambia what have been put in place… to attract tourists there,” Bio said.
Both leaders said their discussion also centered on fisheries, governance, education and trade.