The Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) on Wednesday hosted a lively lecture series entitled “Mediating Civil War- Peace Settlement in Africa: the Case of Sierre Leone” by former Sierra Leone President and military leader Brigadier General (Ret) Julius Maada Wonie Bio.
In a lecture intended to show the mediation process in the post-civil war period in Sierra Leone, Bio started his lecture by addressing the causes of the civil war in Sierra Leone between 1991 and 2002 that claimed the lives of nearly 300,000 people and saw the displacement of 2.5million.
He said that even though many take the cause of the civil war in Sierra Leone to be the quest for the control of the resources in the country, the real reasons were directly linked to the grievance in the country and the lack of proper channels to air those grievances. He noted that as a military person who was responsible for the people, he had undertaken a number of steps to bring the civil war to an end. “The most important efforts were identifying the international actors in the conflict and to diplomatically approach those countries and find a way for them to help in the peace process,” he said. “I solicited the diplomatic backing from Libya, Liberia, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast in this regard.”
He also noted that after the civil war, he was forced to overthrow the then President Captain Valentine Strasser in a coup; because he demanded to stay in power without democratic elections. Bio organized elections after the coup, but lost. He peacefully transferred power to Ahmad Tejan Kabbah in 1996.
In the process of mediation that led to the end of the civil war, Bio stressed that the process required him to negotiate face-to-face with the rebel leader Foday Sankoh in a room with no one else present. “In the process however the role of international actors was commendable,” he said. “ECOWAS had played a key role in the mediation process and the UN also had an important contribution that continues till date.”
In identifying the key points that enable the mediation process to succeed, Bio said that the mediators in a peace process need not just to broker a peace deal between the quarrelling parties, but also follow the process until it yields sustainable peace. “Peace processes also need to take in to account cultural specificities in a country which would enable for stakeholders involved in the peace process to choose the right path towards an enduring peace,” he said. “Mediation processes also require identifying spoilers of the process and avoiding them from the process.”
Source: IPSS Addis Abeba
Cover photo:Brigadier (Ret.) Julius Maada Wonie Bio