Conakry, Guinea, 29 Jan 2021—— Following a letter from His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio to President Alpha Conde, on Wednesday 27th, the former dispatched a high level delegation to Guinea to engage the Guinean Government on the incursion into Yengah by the Guinean military and the closure of the main Sierra Leone – Guine land border.
The delegation met with His Excellency President Alpha Conde at the Sekhou Toure Presidential Palace in Conakry on Thursday 28th January, to discuss the issues highlighted above with a view to amicably resolving them and to emphasise the need to strengthen bilateral ties between the two countries.
During his presentation, the leader of delegation, the Right Honourable Dr. Abass Chernor Bundu (Speaker of Sierra Leone’s parliament) started by introducing members of his delegation and continued by congratulating President Conde on his recent re-election victory. He furthered that they were sent by his counterpart, His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio to hear from him the reason(s) for the unilateral closure of the main land border between the two countries and the incursion into Yengah by Guinean forces.
Dr. Abass Bundu also highlighted the ramifications the closure of the border has on both countries by saying, ‘we met more than 200 vehicles carrying essential commodities stranded on both sides at Gbalamuya checkpoint. Sierra Leone and Guinea share so much commonalities ranging from tradition, ethnicity, culture etc.’ He emphasised the need for the two countries to strengthen the strong bilateral ties that have existed for centuries, based on mutual respect for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of both countries.
Dr. Abass Bundu also raised the issue of some Sierra Leoneans based in Guinea that are currently in custody in Guinea for alleged interference into the politics of that country, to which some have been released through the intervention of the Sierra Leone Embassy in Guinea while others are still in custody.
In his response, His Excellency President Alpha Conde said he is happy to receive the delegation from Sierra Leone and buttressed the points made by Dr. Abass Bundu saying Sierra Leone and Guinea have maintained long standing and historical relationships, that the peace and stability of both countries should be of paramount interest to all.
However, in pointing out some of the concerns he had that led to the closure of the border, President Alpha Conde catalogued several allegations that hinge on their just concluded elections.
He presented controvertible evidence that some Sierra Leoneans in Sierra Leone used unregistered SIM cards to cause disaffection in Guinea during their elections. He also claimed that a very large number of Sierra Leoneans used to have meetings in Kambia in a bid to mobilize support for the main opposition in Guinea.
He continued that there was no way they could have access to Sierra Leonean authorities in the form of intelligence sharing to enable them track those they perceived to have been causing problems in Guinea from Sierra Leone.
In a joint communique that was signed by both parties, it was agreed as follows:
-That during the discussions the two sides agree on a framework to resolve the issues of concern within the shortest possible time;
Both sides reaffirmed their commitment towards strengthening the bilateral relations between the two countries and further highlighted the importance of the free movement of people and goods as critical to the development of both countries;
-As part of the immediate actions to be undertaken, it was agreed that a Guinean delegation will visit Sierra Leone in February 2021 to work with their Sierra Leone counterparts to agree on a common ground for deeper cooperation;
This will provide the basis upon which the two Heads of States will meet to conclude the issues raised;
-Both parties emphasized their commitment to upholding the historic friendship and cooperation that has bound the two peoples as families for generations;
-His Excellency Professor Alpha Conde, President of the Republic of Guinea extended his warmest regards and assurances of continuing cooperation to his brother and colleague, His Excellency Dr. Julius Maada Bio, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone and expressed his wish to receive him in Conakry at his earliest convenience.
By: Mohamed L. Bah, Strategic Communications Unit, Ministry of Information and Communications.