The new military government in Guinea has been touring the West Africa sub-region to solicit support, particularly among the countries of the Mano River Union which groups Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Ivory Coast.
Second Vice President General Mamadou Bah Camara visited Liberia Tuesday and met with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who chairs the Mano River Union group of countries. An Executive Mansion press release from Monrovia said General Bah Camera assured president Sirleaf that the new military rulers are committed to restoring democratic civilian rule in Guinea within two years.
General Bah Camara arrived in Sierra Leone Tuesday night. The Guinean delegation’s visit to Freetown comes ahead of the visit of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi who is expected in the Sierra Leone capital today Wednesday.
Sierra Leone information minister Ibraham Kargbo told VOA that although the Libyan leader’s visit was strictly bilateral, the situation in Guinea might also top the agenda.
“The Libyan leader is arriving in Sierra Leone on Wednesday, and he is coming here at his own request. He wants to visit Sierra Leone in normal bilateral relations between Sierra Leone and Libya. A number of people are speculating that his visit to Sierra Leone may be connected with developments in neighboring Guinea. But the Libyan leader himself has not said so to the government of Sierra Leone, and therefore we as a government are going to extend to him the normal courtesy that you will expect to extend to any head of state,” he said.
Kargbo said Sierra Leone’s views on the military and political crisis in neighboring Guinea are in line with the position of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
“Our president holds the view that because we are a founding member of ECOWAS and we believe in the role of ECOWAS as an instrument for the maintenance of peace in West Africa, and we are also aware of the fact that Sierra Leone is a model democracy, and therefore whatever position that is taken by ECOWAS would be consistent with our thinking, that is to say making sure that there is a smooth transition in neighboring Guinea. The political transition has to be smooth; it has to be non-violent, and it is accepted by the Guinean people,” Kargbo said.
On the military rulers’ pronouncement to restore Guinea to democratic civilian within two years, Kargbo said Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma like other Mano River Union leaders believe in maintain peace and stability in the sub-region.
“We are members of the Mano River Union, that is Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, and Ivory Coast, and we believe in the whole idea of maintaining stability. And this is the position held by the President of Sierra Leone, President Bai Koroma,” Kargbo said.
Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi offered last year to help victims of Sierra Leone’s brutal civil war that he was once accused of backing.
Kargbo refused to speculate on whether President Koroma was likely to raise the issue with the Libyan leader.
“All I can say here is that I have organized a press conference so that the Libyan leader can address the media in Sierra Leone. And it is just possible that questions relating to reparation would be asked. So can we wait until after that press conference because I cannot speculate,” Kargbo said.