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Statement on the Death of President Kabbah


Monday, 17 March 2014

A statement on the death of former President, Alhaji Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah

LONDON - With a heavy heart, I join fellow Sierra Leoneans, at home and abroad, to express our condolence to Mrs Isata J. Kabbah, the children and the entire Kabbah Family on the passing away of the former President, Alhaji Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah.

President Kabbah was a man whose dedication and commitment to the service of his nation has become the emblem of our country’s transition from war to peace. The loss is a national tragedy. The outpouring of grief and condolence messages at home and abroad have brought out his most enduring legacy - ending the war and establishing the building blocks of our country’s post-conflict recovery.

As a former President and a former Leader of the Sierra Leone People’s Party, I have followed President Kabbah’s journey from the outset. The first opportunity I had to meet him was in 1992 as Chairman of the National Advisory Council. Dr Tejan Kabbah had returned to Sierra Leone with enormous experience in public service. When I became Chief Secretary of State presiding over cabinet meetings, I also had the privilege of holding discussions with him on many issues ranging from policy formulation, policy implementation and governance issues. He was always a good listener and widely respected for his meticulous approach to governing.

I also remember well March 29th 1996, in the Chamber of the House of Parliament, as I handed over the Presidential Staff of Office to the newly elected President. He was filled with enthusiasm and optimism for our country and I could sense his determination and vigour to make his own contribution to national development. He was faced with the supreme task of bringing to a final end a war that had caused so much pain and suffering to innocent citizens of our country.

To that end, despite all the challenges he faced, his commitment was unwavering and his endurance remarkable. After he declared the end of the war in 2002, he became concerned about the wounds that the war had created among Sierra Leoneans. This led him to establish the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to start the healing process. At the same time he initiated many programmes not only to deal with the intractable problems of disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of ex-fighters, but also provide assistance through social action to help citizens and communities alike with post-conflict recovery.

But his legacy is not limited to reconciliation efforts. He presided over a country in which democracy had disintegrated and was now yearning for a revival. After I reinstated multi-party elections in 1996, it was left to President Kabbah to build on this new democratic foundation. Starting with the reintroduction of local government and establishment of credible democratic institutions, he nurtured our young democracy and established a new framework for good governance. He laid the socio-economic foundation and started the road map from peace to national development.

In the 2012 Presidential and Parliamentary elections, as the then Presidential Flag bearer of the SLPP, I had the opportunity of welcoming the late former President on the campaign trail. His presence at those campaign rallies, despite his ailing health, was a great demonstration of his commitment to the success of our party.

No matter your political affiliation, we all as Sierra Leoneans mourn the passing of an iconic leader who was pivotal to our country’s transition from war to peace, from deep division to thriving young democracy. Our country owes him a profound debt of gratitude.

Julius Maada Bio
Flag Bearer of the Sierra Leone People’s Party for the 2012 Presidential Election