Last Friday’s violence which brought Freetown to a standstill, when supporters of the ruling APC went on a rampage and orgy of destruction – with at least one confirmed dead, is a worrying reminder of the fragility and precarious nature of politics in Sierra Leone and the ruling APC’s determination to hang on to power – by any means necessary.
Although the ruling APC have denied responsibility for the violence, which comes just five weeks before elections are held, there is little doubt tension has been rising in the country, as president Koroma and senior APC grandees rachet up the rhetoric.
Yesterday, the Embassy of the United States of America in Sierra Leone, issued a stern warning, as it expressied the concerns of the US government. This is what it said:
“The U.S. Embassy is concerned about recent reports of violence and loss of life. We extend deepest condolences to the victims and their families. We appeal to all Sierra Leoneans to remain peaceful and respect the democratic process.
“While this is a time to engage in political activity, exchanges should be civil, and take place in an atmosphere of tolerance and respect. (Photo: President Koroma standing behind president Trump at the Saudi Summit last year).
“Anyone who would infringe on peaceful expression of political views at the risk of public safety should be held to account. We applaud the political parties that have committed to peaceful campaigns by signing on to the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) Code of Conduct.
“The U.S. Embassy urges all parties and candidates to reiterate to their constituents their commitment to a non-violent, law abiding and peaceful democratic process”.
Last Friday January 26th 2018, violence erupted in the middle of the ruling party’s rally to mark the nomination of their presidential candidate Dr. Samura Kamara. The violence left at least one youth dead and several others seriously wounded.
Several police officers were injured as they tried to end the fighting among APC youths dressed in their red sun symbol t-shirts, throwing stones, carrying sticks and machetes. (Photo: Ruling APC presidential candidate – Samura Kamara, taking part in the rally which became violent).
The APC youths, also set fire in the middle of a major street – Campbell Street, as they blocked all movements of pedestrians and vehicles, preventing innocent civilians from exercising their freedom of movement.
In response to the violence, the opposition have called for a thorough investigation by the police, and for the Political Parties Registration Commission to take steps to put the ruling APC under proper control, so as to avoid sending the country back to war.
Just two days before the ruling APC rally violence, on the 24th January 2018, one of the opposition parties – the Coalition For Change Party (C4C) which is led by the former vice president Sam Sumana, who was unconstitutionally sacked by president Koroma, issued this statement, expressing concern over the ruling APC’s abuse of state power:
“The Secretariat of the one-month-old Coalition For Change Party (C4C) has observed that the ruling All People’s Congress Party (APC) is systematically and serially suppressing opposition parties and thinks this is undemocratic as well as unacceptable.