Sierra Leone Telegraph: 27 January 2018: Yesterday’s violence by supporters of the ruling APC, which led to the death of one person at their party’s rally in the capital Freetown, has been strongly condemned by opposition parties. This is what the SLPP said yesterday:
“The attention of the National Secretariat of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) has been drawn to several incidents of violence resulting in the stabbing, numerous physical injuries, and at least one death during the All People’s Congress Party (APC) street rallies called today to mark the nomination of its Presidential candidate and Members of Parliament.
The attention of the SLPP is particularly drawn to a video on social media showing people in red colours with machetes and sticks, pelting stones at each other and chasing each other from the main Campbell street thoroughfare into the Congo market area right in the middle of Freetown.
The Secretariat of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) notes that since the commencement of the nomination exercise, 15 registered political parties have gone through the exercise including the SLPP, no Sierra Leonean blood was spilled and no violence was recorded until the APC brought its members and supporters on the streets.
It should also be noted that at the time of balloting for the date of nomination, the APC took the 22nd day of January as their official date for nomination. However, this date was changed inexplicably by the National Electoral Commission to the 26th of January 2018.
The SLPP can only assume that this was done so as to allow the APC mobilize all kinds of their supporters in large numbers for this day.
The public will also recall that for the last few days, the APC has been calling on its members to come out in their numbers across the country to grace today’s occasion. There is also evidence on social media showing APC operatives distributing APC T-shirts to members of the public for today’s occasion.
All videos and photographs which have emerged of the violence show youths wearing APC brand T-shirts chasing one another whilst holding machetes, sticks, swords and cutlasses. Police officers deployed to protect ordinary Sierra Leoneans were also not spared.
Today’s developments are very worrying for the Citizens of Sierra Leone as we prepare for the March 7th 2018 elections. For the SLPP we have committed ourselves to a violence free elections, but it is now clear to everyone that the ruling APC is violent and continues to exhibit violence in a bid to create fear and panic in the minds of ordinary Sierra Leoneans.
Today’s message from the APC during a simple nomination process is that the March 7th 2018, elections is not a friendly contest but a do or die affairs.
The Sierra Leone People’s Party therefore wishes to strongly condemn the killing, numerous stabbing, wounding and physical injuries sustained by Sierra Leoneans today.
We further condemn the naked violence that was seen along several of the streets of Freetown today by persons out to rally dressed full in APC clothing.
We call on the leadership of the APC to take full responsibility for the killing and massive panic they caused today. The APC leadership should also apologise and assure all Sierra Leoneans of our safety. Sierra Leoneans will abhor any attempt to spin this as it is the APC’s usual political tactics.
We call on the Police to investigate the incidents of today devoid of any partisan interest and bring to book those responsible. We hope, the police will not use this clear incident of an APC activity as justification for their planned action to restrict the movement of Sierra Leoneans on the day of polling.
The day of polling should be seen as any normal day. The SLPP will not accept any restriction of the movement of Sierra Leoneans on that day.
We believe the Sierra Leone Police can provide security as they did in 2002 and 2007 without restricting the movement of Sierra Leoneans.
Finally, the SLPP is calling on the international community particularly the International Criminal Court (ICC) to pay key attention to our elections slated for March 7th 2018 and all events leading up to the elections.” (End).