Likewise as a nation, we must remember that for almost
eleven years we witnessed the most savage and
vicious forms of violence perpetrated against
defenceless people by their own compatriots:
amputations; indiscriminate killings of women and
children; raping and other sexual assaults on girls
and women; malicious looting and arson.
We lost our loved ones, and to this day continue to
live with the scars of our war. Therefore, our
politics should not remind us of this hurtful past,
but rather it must be the platform to discuss
policies that will heal our wounds and put smiles on
This brings me to the recent Bo incident and its
aftermath. Whilst I welcome the setting up of a
committee to investigate the disturbances by
President Ernest Koroma, I eagerly look forward to
the publication of its report, so that it does not
follow the trademark of the Shears-Moses Report of
March 2009 Political Violence, which the government
has refused to publish or act upon.
Therefore, I will fight off the temptation to comment
on the disturbances so as not to prejudice the
outcome of the investigating committee.
However, it is sufficed to say that contrary to the
ramblings of the APC’s Auxiliary - Mohammed Bangura,
Rtd. Brigadier Maada Bio did sustain a head injury:
But by whom, and from where? The committee will soon
Nevertheless, it is shameful and blasphemous for Sheik
Sillah of APC to insinuate in his interview with
Exclusive Newspaper, that Rtd Brigadier Maada Bio
might have been stoned by God. Well, the God who
many of us serve does not throw stones. But if He
does, then there are many APC Politicians that He
would have stoned for putting our people through the
present wanton Hardship.
With such provocative comment by Sheik Sillah and the
sequence of political violence doled out to the SLPP
for the past four years, it seems obvious that the
APC plans to cow the SLPP before the 2012 elections.
Well, our dear APC friends, we are in a different
decade from the 1970s! Our political history has
taught us that during the 1973 elections, APC
scandalously unleashed violence against the SLPP to
the extent of kidnapping staunch SLPP supporters,
which caused the Party to withdraw all its
candidates and subsequently boycotted the elections.
Worse still, people recall the 1982 parliamentary
election for which, according to David Lord
(Conciliation Resources, Sept. 2000); in the
southern Pujehun the APC used the Army to crush
supporters of the SLPP during the election campaign
in events known as the "Ndogboyosoi" war.
These two horrific incidents make it ever so sad
and worrying as the SLPP in its recent press
briefing recounted its four years of traumatic
experiences of violence under the "new APC".
Therefore, what does it say of our democracy, where
the official opposition cannot hold a meeting at its
headquarters without the fear of hoodlums or thieves
plotting to heist chairs party members sit on; or
the computers, laptops and printers used to prepare
minutes and party correspondence; or the fear of the
generator being nicked?
And what about the women - young and old, who cannot
concentrate during party meetings because they are
afraid of rapists? This is not political violence
but plain Criminality.
What about our Force for Good? Sadly, during these
incidents of political violence, the Police Officers
usually embark on either arresting the victimised
SLPP supporters, firing lachrymatory agent (tear
gas) against the SLPP supporters.
Notably in 2007, Brima Acha Kamara - former Inspector
General of the police, bizarrely remarked following
comprehensive looting of the party headquarters,
that it was the SLPP youths who embarked on
'operation pay yourself'.
And now in a seeming ploy to undermine the
political vibrancy of the SLPP, the Inspector
General of Police – Munu, has ordered a blanket and
indefinite ban on all outdoor activities of
Political Parties in the guise of a 'cooling
Whilst, I recognise the sacred duty of the Police to
maintain law and order, and ensure the peaceful
co-existence of all Sierra Leoneans, by the same
token we do not want to live in Zimbabwe, where
President Robert Mugabe uses the Police to crush the
opposition party of Morgan Tsvangirai.
In February 2007, the Zimbabwean Police banned all
political rallies and activities in Harare. This was
an obvious ploy by President Robert Mugabe to
politically suffocate the opposition, led by Morgan
Tsvangirai. The ban has been described as a "state
of emergency"; whilst one international observer
lamented that democracy was under siege in Zimbabwe.
Therefore, I want to remind I.G. Munu about the
Policing Charter published in August 1998. Under the
Mission Statement, specifically the sub-section
titled ‘Our Values’, it states; "WE WILL RESPECT
HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE FREEDOMS OF THE INDIVIDUAL".
However, the ban recently issued by the police,
flies in the face of not only their own Policing
Charter, as it infringes on the Political Rights,
Freedoms of Association and Movements of the
citizens; but seeks to put our democracy under
To the SLPP, I understand and empathise with the pain,
victimisation and above all the humiliation we have
unjustifiably gone through for the past four years.
The present Arab Spring - whether in Egypt, Tunisia,
Yemen or Saudi Arabia has taught us that when
political oppositions are subjected to years of
oppression with the aid of state agents, the people
are left with no choice but to take the law and
their common destiny into their own hands.
However, as a student of Pacificism, I do not condone
violent retaliation, but it will be utterly callous
if the APC government does not recognise that all
the criminalities committed against the SLPP in the
guise of political violence must stop.
The patience and tolerance of the SLPP have been
tested beyond political acceptance.
In pari passu, to us in the SLPP, we need to be
reminded of the words of great Martin Luther King
Jr., who once said; "If you succumb to the
temptation of using violence in the struggle, unborn
generations will be recipients of a long and
desolate nights of bitterness, and your chief legacy
to the future will be endless reign of meaningless
Therefore, we must not succumb to the temptation of
APC’s violence to eclipse our New Direction, because
what is at stake for this 2012 elections matter most
to the lives of suffering Sierra Leoneans and young
people trapped in joblessness.
In the same vein, we need to be guided
of the words of our Presidential Hopeful
– Rtd. Brigadier Maada Bio, who stated
in his glorious maiden speech:
"Fellow Sierra Leoneans, against this
backdrop, a question often asked is: if,
like the old APC, the so-called new APC
decides to lead the country in electoral
violence in the run-up to 2012, should
we in the SLPP follow suit? With
respect, I say No."
"The strength of our Party lies in our capacity, not
in trading violence with the APC or any other party,
but in upholding the sacred values for which our
Founding Fathers had fought so hard and which today
constitutes our cherished inheritance. Eschewing
violence as an instrument of political change,
however, should not be misunderstood or misconstrued
as cowardice or timidity."
"We fear no party and we are ready to protect our
supporters at all times. Only that our creed is
freedom, not despotism; democracy, not dictatorship;
the rule of law, not the rule of the jungle; human
rights, not power; inclusiveness, not alienation."
"Spreading these values is the bastion of our
security, our first line of attack and our last line
of defence. And if the APC decides to divide the
country in violence, so our resolve to unite it
around our common dislike of violence must remain
unshaken and unbroken. And we must send this message
out to the country now," says Bio.
For our friends who stated that Rtd. Brigadier Maada
Bio had not condemned the Bo incident, that maiden
speech deflates such assertion - if they really care
to know what has been Rtd. Brigadier Maada Bio’s
position on the Bo disturbance.
As the APC Government celebrates four years in office
this September, things have got worse for Sierra
Leoneans: the country now has the third highest
illiteracy rate in the world; a bag of rice is at
its highest price of Le 145,000-Le170,000.
Since Pedro Da Cintra founded Sierra Leone in 1462,
the country now has the highest record of
joblessness among its youths; an economy recovering
from coma with a shocking 18.4% inflation rate, and
the value of our currency (Leone) depreciating at an
alarming rate, with $1 = Le4500 and £1 = Le7152.
As such, the SLPP must continue to provide for our
people an alternative government in waiting, with
Rtd. Brigadier Maada Bio’s youthful leadership that
will match violence with ideas, release our people
from the prison cells of poverty, empower our young
people with skills and job opportunities to maximise
their fullest potentials, fulfil the greatest
promise that each generation will be better than its
But most of all: provide a New Direction in our
Politics that will put smiles on the face of every
Sierra Leonean, irrespective of tribe, religion,
region, wealth, social status, educational status
and political affiliations. YES HE CAN!
Yusuf Keketoma Sandi: BA (Hons), LLB (Hons)
Back to main list of