Ukraine: “For the good of humanity, let’s stop this war,” Sierra Leone’s president told AFP

Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio expressed hope in an interview with AFP that African mediation would help bring an early end to the war in Ukraine, for the people there but also for “the poorest of the poor”, including Since his country is one.

“We are all suffering from the war in Ukraine,” Mr. Bio said during this interview Wednesday from his office in Freetown.

“We international leaders, concerned about the welfare of people, especially the poorest of the poor, all have an interest in seeing that the war ends as soon as possible, with all the suffering as well as one country in particular As someone who has already experienced war, but also because of its impact on us,” he said, referring to the civil war that raged in his country between 1991 and 2002.

Mr Bio, elected in 2018 and a candidate for re-election to his presidency on June 24, was asked about the peace mission that six African leaders – of whom he is not a part – could soon lead There are, probably in early June, Kiev and Moscow, according to South Africa.

After the COVID-19 pandemic, Africa bore the brunt of this war and its consequences on supply and prices. African countries are divided in the United Nations over the war.

Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio at the 36th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, February 18, 2023 (AFP/Archive – Emanuel Sileshi)

When asked about Africa’s ability to speak with one voice, Mr. Bio replied: “There is only one word to say, we have only one: let’s stop this conflict. It is for the good of humanity, because What’s Happening: Let’s Stop This War”.

“Even those sympathetic to Russia are on our side to prevent this war,” he said.

Sierra Leone voted with the West at the United Nations for an end to the war in Ukraine and for Russia to withdraw its troops, unlike many African countries that seceded or, to a lesser extent, voted against.

A month before the presidential election, Mr Bio insisted that without “exogenous factors” such as the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and their impact on a country highly dependent on imports and very vulnerable to external shocks, he would not have a monopoly The fight against inflation, scarcity and devaluation of the national currency against the dollar.

– “Begging” and sovereignty –

Sierra Leone (AFP/Archive - Marieme Brunengo)
Sierra Leone (AFP/Archive – Marieme Brunengo)

He defended his government’s actions, for example raising taxes on imports of basic necessities such as rice or fuel. He also called for the progress he has made against corruption and for education.

He said he did not want to slack off on these efforts, but expressed his intention to focus on agriculture so that the country would not have to import rice, the staple food.

“After winning this election, I will put agriculture at the top of my policies to ensure that we are self-sufficient in rice and many other things,” he said.

It is also about breaking dependence on international aid.

“I don’t believe in aid. I believe we can do enough to develop our resources,” he said. Help sets a “bad example” for humans who are “generally lazy”.

He said, “When you are a sovereign nation, it is never good to beg from other countries.”

Sierra Leone faces these challenges in an uncertain regional environment. West Africa has been rocked by a series of coups in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso since 2020 and faces the spread of jihadism. Sierra Leone itself experienced rising prices and riots against the president in August 2022, resulting in the deaths of 27 civilians and six police officers.

Sierra Leone's President Julius Maada Bio delivers a speech at the United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in Doha, Qatar, March 4, 2023 (AFP/Archive - Karim Jaffer)
Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio delivers a speech at the United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in Doha, Qatar, March 4, 2023 (AFP/Archive – Karim Jaffer)

“We are facing extreme difficulties”, but “the head of the world is elsewhere”, and “there are limits” to what regional organizations can do to maintain stability in one way or another, recognized M. Organic.

“Everyone (leaders of each country) is looking at, ‘What can I do to maintain stability in my little world?'” he admitted.

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