2 March 2012
A high powered delegation of the Executive Committee of the UK and Ireland Branch of the Sierra Leone Peoples’ Party (SLPP), met with the British Deputy Prime Minister – Rt. Honourable Nick Clegg MP and other British government officials on Tuesday, 28 February, 2012.
The SLPP executives formally apprised the Deputy Prime Minister of the recent volatile political developments in Sierra Leone.
In their briefing, the SLPP delegation informed the British authorities about the threat posed to the hard-won democracy and peace in Sierra Leone by the government of President Ernest Koroma.
The delegation presented a dossier of political violence perpetrated by the Ernest Koroma government, against supporters and sympathizers of the opposition SLPP.
The UK Branch delegation informed the Deputy Prime Minister that President Koroma is preparing the ground to rig the forthcoming general and Presidential elections slated for 17 November, 2012, by embarking on importing migrant voters from neighbouring countries.
The President and his supporters are using state funds to support their foreign voters buying scam.
The delegation argued that Britain has a legitimate interest in knowing this because the UK is the largest bilateral donor to Sierra Leone.
They said that it was important for them to know that monies meant for development purposes are being diverted away from needy Sierra Leoneans by a president who has lost an understanding of the distinction between his private and national coffers.
The SLPP UK delegation informed the Deputy Prime Minister that President Koroma has embarked on the purchase of weapons from abroad, to brutalise opposition supporters in order to secure another term in office.
The delegation presented documents relating to the arms purchase totalling up to $4.5million (USA). The arsenal weapons include the following: 50 PKM heavy machine guns, 100 light machine guns, 2,500 advanced new stock AK47 assault rifles, 100 40mm under-barrel grenade launchers for AK47 with a range of 300 metres, and assortments of other weapons including pistols.
The delegation informed the British authorities that there were no threats to the stability of the State, and as such, there is no possible justification for this arms purchase, except the determination of the government to re-militarise the country and turn it into a dictatorship by wiping out legitimate political opposition.
The SLPP UK delegation also reminded the Deputy British Premier that Sierra Leone was slowly recovering from a decade long war, and that the decision by President Koroma to embark on the purchase of weapons rather than addressing the socio-economic needs of the population is a threat to the sub region.
The delegation called on the British government to use its influence – especially with China, which has become one of the arms suppliers to the Koroma Regime, to act in line with its responsibility as a member of the permanent five of the UN Security Council.
China they said, has to understand that there are hundreds of thousands of unemployed youths in Sierra Leone, and that any attempt to re-arm such a volatile segment of the population will undo the very commendable work of the UN, which did everything to disarm and demobilize those youths.
They assured the British deputy premier that the SLPP was a responsible political Opposition, and that they will continue to act as such.
They however added that, it will be unrealistic for anyone to expect that the SLPP will sit back and watch the APC government annihilate its members.
The delegation which was led by the Chairman – Mr Jimmy Batilo Songa, thanked the Deputy Prime Minister for taking time out to meet with them, and underscored the gratitude and appreciation of the SLPP for the continuing bilateral assistance that Britain has provided to Sierra Leone.
Receiving the SLPP delegation, the Deputy Prime Minister promised to contact the relevant authorities within the British government to discuss the concerns raised by the opposition SLPP.