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APC’s faulty DNA will never change

Austin Thomas

20 September 2011

APC's founding father - Siaka Stevens

  It was the late Siaka Stevens who once said that "only God and fools do not change". That is indeed true, because the God we serve is the same yesterday, today and forever. And a fool is just the same, only that he is the opposite of God.

Sierra Leone’s governing party - APC, will never change its identity, philosophy, ideas, policies and programs with respect to violence and thuggery. It’s in their DNA.

Despite some fifty years of existence, APC’s violent past and trade mark have not changed. The Berlin Wall has come down, man has been to the moon, and the Soviet Union has fallen. Today, APC’s Internal Affairs Minister is ordering the shooting of his boss the vice president. Is this not the same APC of Siaka Stevens fame?

It was not a surprise then, that even in the opposition SLPP’s stronghold - Bo; APC had the guts to attack their presidential candidate - Maada Bio and his supporters. It’s in their DNA. Is it not?

According to the dictionary, a fool is: 'One who is deficient in judgment, sense, or understanding’; or 'One who acts unwisely on a given occasion'. APC’s identity and trade mark do seem to match those definitions quite well. Since its formation, APC has based its policies, ideas and legitimacy on violence.

Election violence was common place in the 70’s and 80’s when APC was in power, as they fought amongst themselves and their opponents. Many lives were lost, houses burnt, women raped, and properties looted.

There were many instances that one can recall: Radomatic machine vs. Alex Stevens in Freetown West 2; Timbo and Eddie Turay in Bombali; Fofana vs. Saccoh again in the Bombali area. During those violent APC confrontations, blood was spilt, livestock and properties were destroyed.

The ousting of Momoh’s APC in 1992, should have spelt the end of the APC, but lo and behold, we the people of Sierra Leone did the unimaginable and brought them back into power.

It was in 2007 that I really come to believe that Sierra Leoneans can be so forgetful. APC was simply waiting to emerge once again with their signature tune: violence and thuggery. And now they have truly shown that they are still the same – just as long as the name APC remains. It’s in their DNA.

The elections conducted by the military NPRC in 1996 were relatively peaceful, only for a few rebel attacks in some areas of the provinces. But violence very largely took a back seat. SLPP won the elections and power was transferred peacefully to a democratically elected government.

In 2002 and 2007, the governing SLPP conducted two general elections. Both elections were largely peaceful with lots of party rallies all over the country. Ernest Koroma travelled the length and breadth of Sierra Leone and he was never attacked, contrary to rumours and propaganda of him being attacked or ambushed.

The reason was because SLPP’s DNA is characterised by non-violence, tranquillity, respect, democratic values and brotherly love.

Although SLPP lost the 2007 elections, due largely to the controversial and unlawful nullification of hundreds of thousands of SLPP ballots by the NEC, yet they peacefully handed power over to the opposition APC. Everything went well and even Ernest Koroma has praised Kabbah and Berewa for such a smooth transition.

But immediately the results was announced and Ernest Koroma declared the winner, APC unleashed their reign of terror on SLPP, which resulted in the burning of SLPP’s head quarters, raping and beating of women, and waging of violence against innocent men and children.

This unbridled violence continued until today. Since APC took over in 2007, almost all the local elections they have conducted have been violent - from Kono to Kailahun and Makeni to Pujehun.

Violence is in APC’s DNA. No one can change that - whether they have Ernest as leader or not. APC cannot rule or legitimize their power without violence. The party is now preparing the way for rigging the 2012 elections once again, in order to return the country to a one party state, as many are fearing.

We hear about the political concept of 'unopposed' whenever APC is in power. How is it possible that APC can contest an election in any part of the country without a single opposition?

For the past four years they have been very angry with the opposition SLPP, especially with the latter’s staging of their monthly press briefing. They even went to the extent of telling the SLPP chairman - John Benjamin that only the elected SLPP Parliamentarians should speak for the party.

No sooner Emmerson released his album 'Yesterday betteh pass tiday', did the government paid a local musician - millions of Leones, to counter Emerson’s songs, which the APC believes to be anti-government.

Emmerson recently made the revelation that he respects former SLPP president Kabbah for his democratic principles, compared to APC’s hostility towards any form of dissent.

It was not a surprise when members of APC attacked Maada Bio and pelted him and his convoy with stones. As always the police did not defend the SLPP leader and his supporters from the attack. Instead, it is now likely that SLPP supporters will be arrested and accused of perpetrating the violence that took place in Bo.

We need to remember that it was the APC, under Siaka Stevens that created the notorious and brutal OSD security force, which was originally called ISU and then SSD.

The OSD special security force was created to protect APC’s rule - by any means necessary, and have been doing so since SLPP lost the elections in 2007. They will no doubt be at the forefront in 2012 to make sure that APC retains power.

Their intentions for the coming elections are indeed worrying for many of us. Will 2012 elections be peaceful? Only the Almighty God can answer this question.

Since Maada Bio won the SLPP party elections, APC has engaged in a nasty personality assassination campaign, with the help of some journalists to tear his credibility apart.

That vicious negative campaign is not working, so they have resorted to a new strategy aimed at ensuring that Bio cannot not participate in the 2012 elections. It would also seem that they have decided to either eliminate him now, or cause his party to react in a manner that will give the international community as well as Sierra Leoneans the chance to lambast SLPP of thuggery.

But I say to SLPP: your party was founded by men and women who were much respected in the country; they were men and women of courage, understanding and with democratic values.

So I therefore appeal to all SLPP supporters that the reaction of burning down the APC office in Bo was uncalled for and will be strongly condemned by all, if the ongoing investigations commissioned by the president proved as such.

Members and supporters of the SLPP must obey the law and not take it into their own hands. Two wrongs cannot make a right, and they should not drag the party down the road of APC’s violence.

Let the supporters and members of SLPP be prepared at all times for such violent attacks, and should always try to protect their leadership and supporters from retaliating or else they would be blamed for violent misconduct.

We cannot afford to let Sierra Leone slip back into war. If APC thinks they have done enough for the people of Sierra Leone and should be given a second chance, then they must allow the ballot box to do its work.

Whether Maada Bio is a thief or a killer, let APC allow the people of Sierra Leone to decide next year. But for them to start attacking Bio and his supporters, sends the wrong signal to us all that they are afraid of being kicked out of office by the people, because they have not done enough for them.

In four years they have turned the economy upside down. They have succeeded in creating more illiterates in the country. The average age of death in Sierra Leone is now about 37 years, due largely to stress and depression.

We Sierra Leoneans are tired of fighting. We want development. We want to live in peace and happiness. We want to live in an environment that is tranquil so that we can raise our children in fear of God; and to be better and respectable citizens. We are tired of APC’s thuggery.

So the time has now come for us to think positively as Sierra Leoneans, and to make sure that we do not make the same mistake as we did in 2007.

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