A wave of violence erupted in Kenema, following the announcement of the presidential runoff election results, April 4th, 2018 in which Julius Maada Bio emerged winner. Abu Bakarr Sulaiman Tarawally has been monitoring events in the eastern district as he reports.
Kenema was strategic in the Presidential Elections because it is one of the strongholds of the Sierra Leone People’s Party, which won the elections. The All people’s Congress was kin on making inroads in the east forest region without much success. Roads in that part of country were in moribund state and lots of life social amenities are lacking. Residents there believe widely that the then ruling party was jeopardizing Kenema –believing the region is loyal to the former opposition party.
Events of the runoff elections witnessed a huge drama as allegations were rife about plans to stuff ballot papers in some polling stations and the intention for such is to raise a petition on grounds of over-voting. The Public Elections Act 2012 provides for the National Electoral Commission to nullify polling stations with evidence of over voting.
Reports on Tuesday April 3rd indicate that commercial activities came to halt when hundreds of youths engaged the security forces in a stone throwing battle upon information that APC operatives took some sensitive electoral materials to 38 Gbanguta Street for ulterior motives. Scores were injured in the fracas, others hospitalised and private properties were damaged. A joint security and public investigation carried revealed that sensitive electoral materials found were the certified Results and Reconciliation Forms (RRF). Representatives of the SLPP and APC amongst them civil right activists resolved the indifference and move on. The regional tally centre which halted the process resumed once again in earnest.
A calm situation again turned violent when the Chief Electoral Commissioner announced the runoff election results on Wednesday April 4th. Report indicates that hundreds of SLPP supporters took to the streets in jubilation, singing and dancing around their Hanga Road office. Earlier in the day before the results were announced, it is reported that the regional tallying centre in Kenema took upon their authority to announce the results tallied so far. Rowdy arguments erupted as a member of the SLPP, Saidu Bangura said only the Chief Electoral Commissioner has the mandate to announce certified results of the polls.
Jubilations span into Thursday April 5th, but a much ugly situation reared an ugly sight following deadly actions by security forces that triggered live rounds of bullets and canisters of teargas to the unsuspecting public. Ten people reportedly sustained gunshots wounds, among them two females.14 year old, Mohamed Sandi of Joy Academy was rushed to the emergency hospital in the capital Freetown,from Kenema as a bullet was lodged on his right foot.
Police chief, AIG East, Alfred Karrow Kamara had to flee his area of responsibility fearing reprisals from the public as the security forces mishandled the situation. AIG Keili is reported to have taken charge of command and situation has returned to normalcy.
Trending on this issue: Grave Concerns Over Violence Against Peaceful Citizens and Supporters of the All Peoples Congress.
Fellow Sierra Leoneans and Comrades of the All Peoples Congress, by now, we have all heard the outcome of the just concluded Presidential elections. It is evident that the candidate of the Sierra Leone People’s Party has been declared the winner.
Unfortunately, we have been shocked and alarmed at the spate of violence and attacks that occasioned the announcement of the results. These attacks have been predominantly orchestrated to target innocent citizens and APC supporters as a collective punishment.
We continue to document the litany of abuses and human rights violations with serious consequences for the livelihoods and socio-economic opportunities of our peoples.
I remain appalled and disheartened by these incidents and most of all the utter delay in putting the situation under control. So much for impunity we don’t deserve! So much for democracy we have to learn.
Let me register my profound condemnation of these heinous crimes against humanity that have the potential of eroding our hard-won peace and social cohesion enjoyed by our peoples.
These attacks are a shame on our collective image and moral conscience. They must be stopped with no further delay.
I wish to call on the relevant authorities to protect the lives and properties of all Sierra Leoneans across the country and ensure that those who are perpetrating these human rights abuses are brought to book forthwith.
I call on the new administration of President-elect Julius Maada Bio to match his words with actions.
Let me assure all Sierra Leoneans and supporters of the All Peoples living in fear of these attacks that we stand with them.
We will continue to raise our credible voices against such atrocities and where necessary take appropriate legal remedial measures.
Lastly, let me seize the opportunity to congratulate H.E Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio, upon his election and wish him well, as we look forward to demonstrative leadership to meet the challenges of this heightening state of political violence.
Long Live Sierra Leone!
@ Hon. Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara.
Heavy attacks on innocent APC supporters in Masofinya, Kurubonla and Porpon in Neya Chiefdom, Falaba District. The house of the Deputy Organising Secretary is raised down to ground level while the Youth Secretary of the APC is seriously beaten and hospitalised. When called upon, the LUC in Mongor town, said he doesn’t have support staff to remedy the situation.
CHRDI EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER SECURITY IN SIERRA LEONE
The Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI) expresses deep concern over the security situation in the country following the presidential runoff in March 31, 2018.
The organization is concerned about the occurrences of the past three weeks which has witnessed a rise in the brazen disregard of the rule of law, barefaced threats and political intimidation. This is compounded by breaches of the national constitution, other domestic and international law including the national democratic principles that are enshrined and protected in the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone.
CHRDI is therefore using this platform to remind the Government of Sierra Leone, all Political Parties, the PPRC, the Police Service, the Electorate, the International Community and other Stakeholders about Sierra Leone’s commitment to Peace and Tolerance as enshrined in varied articles and memoranda during and after the war. We believe that the current state of affairs in the country is gravely inimical to our International Image and potential for economic growth. We also believe that the current political violence is needless. As a group comprising largely young and still optimistic Sierra Leoneans, we are asking our leadership, APC, SLPP, NGC, C4C etcetera to lead our country with a greater sense of purpose. We are saddened by heightened tensions between the leading political parties and especially by what we witnessed during and after the March 2018 elections.
Here are a few questions to think over:
Have we learnt any lessons from our recent history?
Where are we headed?
We wish to warn the leadership and citizenry that, all conflict-predicting barometers in Sierra Leone are tending towards a probable and cataclysmic showdown.
We will not want another war, neither a repeat of RWANDA!!! We therefore wish to respectfully ask our politicians to be mindful of their utterances and activities in public! We also wish to state that we are closely watching your actions!
Politicians should be mindful of the fact that it is not in the interest of any group, to see our fledgling democracy and fragile peace shattered!
We strongly believe Sierra Leone deserves comparable respect from the global community! We wouldn’t want to lose our enviable democratic stature in Africa.
Political stability and socio-economic development is what the people of Sierra Leone want at this time not war!
CHRDI believes that peaceful reconciliation will be best served if all those involved respect the rule of law and comply with international standards, especially those relating to the use of force; full and transparent investigations into alleged human rights violations; and protection of fundamental rights, including freedom of expression.
One of the most important obligations of any government is to protect the human rights of the people under its Jurisdiction, including their right to security. We are hereby calling on the Sierra Leone Government to initiate an impartial, prompt, public, and independent investigation into all political and election related violence upheaval. Our political parties must therefore be committed to the democratic process.
Note: Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI) is a Rights based Public social-policy advocacy Organisation. We Draw attention to the responsibility of duty-bearers to uphold human rights, and seek to support rights-holders to claim their rights. CHRDI is in Special Consultative Status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council and accredited to many UN Agencies.
©CHRDI-HUMAN RIGHTS and POLICY BRIEF
OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT
It has come to the attention of His Excellency the president that there have been incidents of intimidation and disorderly conduct following the swearing-in of His Excellency Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada bio as president of the republic of Sierra Leone.
Additionally, it has also been alleged that civil servants and other officials and agents of government are facing challenges in reporting for official duty. Civil servants and other officials and agents of government are expected to be impartial and to serve the government of the day.
His Excellency the president is appealing to all those engaged in intimidation and disorderly conduct to desist forthwith. Elections are over and we must now focus on uniting our country to ensure a peaceful and smooth transition.
Please be warned that any act of intimidation and disorderly conduct will be met with the full force of the law.
5th April 2018