Another senseless bloody violence erupts at APC party office in Freetown

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 14 January 2020:

Violence erupted this afternoon outside the opposition All People’s Congress (APC) party office, with at least one person – an APC supporter seriously injured.

It is not clear what started the violence, but from various video clips published on social media, large crowds of APC supporters could be seen shouting about being attacked by supporters of the ruling SLPP party, who they said were throwing stones at the APC supporters.

One adult male APC party supporter is said to have been stabbed several times on his head. (Photo).

The APC supporters are claiming that the minister of internal affairs – Lahai Lawrence Leema , who is responsible for the country’s police force, was seen driving past the APC party office at the time of the attack on their supporters. They are accusing the minister of orchestrating the attack.

A video of his vehicle driving past the APC office could be seen in the video shown below.

According to some eye witness reports, the attack on the APC supporters started when a funeral cortege carrying the remains of senior SLPP supporter – named as Yanka Dauda Sesay – believed to be the Chairman of the SLPP Sweissy traders, drove past the APC party office.

The photo and name of the deceased they said was on the SLPP banners draping the vehicle carrying the deceased.

As the search for answers as to how today’s violence could have started in one of the most sensitive areas of the city – the environs of the opposition APC party office, questions are being asked as to why the funeral procession could have been allowed to pass in front of the APC party office to get to the Kingtom Cemetery, given the political history and heightened tensions between the ruling SLPP and the APC.

Although some armed police presence could be seen in the area during the violence, there was no evidence of an attempt to arrest those involved.

A few months ago, similar violence erupted at the APC party office when police stormed the office in an attempt to arrest supporters who they said were throwing stones at the police and SLPP supporters.

The findings and recommendations of the investigations into that violence is yet to be made public by the police.

Supporters of the APC say they have lost confidence in the police. They are accusing the police of acting on behalf of the ruling party, instead of enforcing law and order impartially.

While there has been no official response from the police or the SLPP party bosses, supporters of the SLPP are denying accusations of involvement in the violence.

The late Mr Yanka Dauda Sesay (Aka YD) they say was the chairman of the SLPP support group known as “Vision for the New Direction”.

His laying out ceremony was this afternoon held at the SLPP party offices in central Freetown, with the party’s chairman Dr Prince Alex Harding (seen here at the centre of this photo above) and senior officials of the party – including its national secretary general – Napoleon Koroma , national publicity secretary and minister of internal affairs – Lahai Lawrence Leema, leading the mourners (Photo below).

How a funeral procession could have left the SLPP party office in central Freetown to make its way down to the APC party office – several miles away in the west of the city where this afternoon’s violence erupted, is the question the police would need to answer – and soon.

In the meantime, the US Embassy in Freetown has issued this security advice to its citizens in the country:

Security Alert – U.S. Embassy (Freetown, Sierra Leone)  (January 14, 2020)

Location: Brookfields, Freetown

Event: Reports indicate there are currently violent confrontations between APC and SLPP supporters near APC headquarters in Brookfields. U.S. government personnel are advised to avoid the area today.

Additionally, there is an increased amount of police in the area tasked with maintaining order. Expect the increased personnel and confrontations to congest traffic in central Freetown. Exercise extreme caution in the Brookfields area.

Actions to Take:

Avoid the area of Brookfields. Avoid crowds. Monitor local media for updates.

 

 

 

 

 

Videos below showing the scene outside the APC party office; and the white government vehicle seen being  driven past the APC office believed to be that of  the internal affairs minister – Lahai Lawrence Leema:

4 Comments

  1. Maxwell Bakarr,once again you cast aside all the points that I raised which I had hoped you would address in an unambiguous manner such as the $275 million which Turkish investors were to bring into the country last year.Also you failed to reconcile how a loan becomes a kind of welfare payment.No one reads a few sentences of your posting who does not discern the fact that you are SLPP to the marrow.It is your prerogative.

    I am neither APC nor SLPP,I am a Sierra leonean who stands up for the truth and down trodden because I come from that class.In almost sixty years of independence power has only shifted between the two of them and their members have used it as a vehicle for personal enrichment,hence my hatred of both of them.However the current commissions of inquiries set up by the Bio Administration should be commended if only because it has lit up an undying inferno which in due course will consume a huge number of those in the current government,since a future APC government will ensure that what is being done to its members right now will tailor its behaviour towards Maada Bio and the rest when they lose power.The beneficiaries will be the nation, but especially the marginalised in society – a clean government is in the horizon.

    You keep talking about big government,forever comparing our country to the United States and Britain.To start with these countries have builed institutions over the centuries which are very strong and which everybody respects,that’s why Donald Trump is in trouble at the moment.If the Thief Minister Minister,David Francis, were American or British he would be out of a job for being linked to a shady $1.5 million deposit at a bank for which a journalist was locked up.The whole case has died a natural death.I have brought this up to make you understand that no two countries are the same,economically or otherwise;therefore each country should manage its economy in a way that best suits what obtains.

    The current headline in the Telegraph is that the government has removed some of the subsidy on fuel, thereby placing the price of fuel in an upward trend.This is what you call big government my old pal,because the government has been running a budget deficit to finance the subsidy without getting anything in return other than easing the pain of higher fuel price on the people.Effectively this amounts to welfare payments,but to give soft loans to people who would not otherwise meet the criteria for a bank loan to set up a business of their choice does not qualify as welfare payments – the loan has to be repaid.

    Ask any official at the IMF which you are so much in awe of about this and he/she will tell you that it does not amount to big government or welfare. Nearly all the governments in Western Europe have socialisd medicine and so does Canada and Australia.They just do not trust the capitalist system would do justice to their people in this regard. I suppose this is welfare to you and big government.But the the IMF would not dare cough at these governments because they manage their affairs properly,starting with their own resources, unlike us where billions of Leones go missing routinely at government departments.

    Finally let me tell you that most governments around the world have what is called mixed economies where private enterprise thrives side by side with that of the government.Even the U.S.,the epitome of capitalism, has a dose of that.You cannot expect people to lift themselves up without having somewhere to stand.If we start managing what we have efficiently we shall be in a position to tell the IMF where to go.This should include our largest diamonds not going missing between State House and Lungi Airport;billions of Leones do not go missing from government coffers;reducing official travel and many more little moves which should see an increase in government earnings.

    We should stop to become a beggar nation and live within our means.Where is our national pride?If we get our house in order the investors will come.We don’t want the American Embassy in Freetown to issue a warning to their citizens anymore.President Bio has a majority in Parliament.Why does he not get his colleagues there to pass sweeping legislation to stop political violence,legislation that is completely blind in terms of any party,including his own? Please stand up for the weak in our society sometimes while still intending to be SLPP till your last breath.

    • Santhkie Sorie,

      I must start by saying that if you had the time to read about the $275 million Turkish rice investment in the country that you love, you definitely would have time to communicate with the Ministry of Agriculture in Freetown to find out the latest developments relative to that venture.

      For your information, the Minister of Finance II, Mr. Sheku Bangura, recently announced an initiative to give a boost to micro-finance and credit by working with commercial banks, Microfinance institutions, community banks and non-Governmental Organizations in the provision of loans to small and medium-scale enterprises (Global Times, January 16, 2020).

      The foregoing in my estimation, clearly outclasses your initiative of the Ministry Trade dabbling with the provision of soft loans to Sierra Leoneans. If anything, while the Ministry of Finance’s initiative supports the growth of a vibrant private sector as the major platform for resource allocation, yours undermines that initiative by encouraging a redistribution of income scheme that would form the pillars of the welfare state. Transferring income to some individuals through a special social mechanism, as you have suggested, has welfare written all over it.

      Additionally, as I have already suggested in my earlier comments, your scheme is tantamount to using taxpayer money to create more rent-seeking theaters for unscrupulous politicians. Establishing mini banks under the auspices of the Ministry of Trade is a cost to government that increases government spending, which in turn balloons the national budget deficit. A ballooning national budget deficit more likely leads to a chronic trade deficit. Such a development goes against the goals of the IMF, which among other things, is to restore and maintain a favorable balance of payments and macroeconomic stability so that the borrower nation can pay back its loan.

      Let me state that context means everything in a debate. It follows that if this debate has been progressing with the understanding that Sierra Leone is under IMF scrutiny, then my arguments must be patterned along those lines. I am no more interested in the IMF than you are or than the average Sierra Leonean who must deal with the shortfalls in government provision of social services is.

      Of course, the IMF “would not dare cough at” the countries that you mentioned because it is only when a country seeks IMF help that the IMF would “cough” at that country. But those same countries that you admire for having socialized medicine would continue to burden their citizens with back-breaking taxes for the sole purpose of sustaining the welfare state. Little wonder many of their citizens leave for the United States at the slightest opportunity. Any government intervention in the economy that has nothing to do with preventing market failure produces unfavorable outcomes.

      Tellingly, when a country borrows from the IMF, as Sierra Leone has recently done, it agrees to IMF conditionalities that are designed to support programs that promote IMF macroeconomic and structural policies. And there are country-resident IMF economists to monitor progress toward goals that the borrower country had outlined with the cooperation of the IMF.

      Pal, I am neither in awe of the IMF nor do I have any reason to ask an IMF official what is meant by big government. You do not know me and therefore do not know what I do for a living. I only got interested in this debate because it concerns the country that I love, and that country is currently working with the IMF to restore macroeconomic stability. Thus, I don’t know how I can discuss Sierra Leone’s current economic issues in isolation of the IMF.

      Since I hold no ambiguities relative to what is meant by big government, let me state that big government refers to a case where the government or public sector in a country is excessively large relative to the private sector. This requires excessive government spending, which in turn leads to chronic budget deficits. I agree with you that the governments in Europe with mixed economies don’t have to go to the IMF. But why should they if they are not experiencing balance of payments problems? Was that not the reason why the IMF was established after World War II – to help post-war countries experiencing balance of payments problems?

      Lastly, like you, I am a Sierra Leonean. But I am also SLPP. I believe that the SLPP is the only political party with the democratic credentials to bring progress to Sierra Leone. You had declared in an earlier exchange that you were NGC. However, since you use APC talking points to attack the SLPP, it is possible that before the NGC, you were APC. But that is your prerogative, my brother. Let the good times roll. Cheers.

  2. Maxwell Bakarr,you have a tendency to completely misunderstand my contributions.When you get a flash of any understanding you shoot off on tangents because of preconceived notions that dominate your line of reasoning. When we were going back and forth on the Chinese luxurious cars I used the Economics idea of Opportunity Cost.Even with an example you shot off to understand it as a recommendation on my part for government subsidy,something which the IMF disdains.

    When I suggested that the Ministry of Trade and Industry should create a special fund in the Ministry to offer soft loans to Sierra Leoneans wishing to start a business to loosen the grip which foreigners have on our economy you interpreted it as a recommendation to start a welfare state.Mr Bakarr,a loan has to be repaid.Please reconcile it with a state of welfare especially considering the fact that I insisted that any loan should be associated with a business plan.You claimed that a relative of yours got into the fishing business after securing a loan from Micro finance and was now doing quite well.I will believe you, and good luck to your relative.Is it a bad idea for the Ministry of Trade to compete with the institution from which your relative secured the loan?

    In the area of attracting foreign investment which crept into the argument you came up with the $275 million which some Turkish investors were ready to bring into the country to start mechanised farming. I may have missed all subsequent developments ever since I read about it in the Telegraph.Can you,therefore,apprise me of the latest on this issue.Have the Turks already set up an office for their operation? How many People have they hired so far?

    You must remember that President Bio is the head of state and in charge of the overall security of the nation.For this he has an Inspector General of police whom he can sack at any time for poor performance and replace him with somebody who can enforce the law.In the event that the police cannot cope with any threat to security I believe the President has the power to tap the help of the army.This is why I said in my latest piece that the president is an ENIGMA because he has all the LEVERS of power in his hands.What is his problem?

    Let me end with a simple example:When a football team is doing poorly it is the manager that may be shown the exit signs not any member of the playing team.Therefore it is the responsibility of the manager to get the best players to portray his playing philosophy on the pitch.

    In case you don’t know,I detest both SLPP and APC. Politically I like President Bio because of his position on corruption although his fight has been clouded by the activities of his Chief/Thief Minister. My hope is that Sierra Leoneans will find it in themselves to give Dr KKY a chance at the Presidency next time around.

    • Honorable Santhkie Sorie,

      I do not understand what can be so complicated in your analysis that I can be so off base in my interpretations. Implicit in all your comments is the desire for more government intervention into the economy. You are urging the Ministry of Trade to get into the business of giving loans to Sierra Leoneans, thereby competing with the banks and if possible, crowding them out.

      Is this not tantamount to advocating for a larger role for government in the economy, which is commonly known as big government? Don’t you think that IMF conditionalities frown on increased government spending? Besides, if this suggestion does not rise to the level of establishing a welfare state where government would engage in the redistribution of income then I wonder what will.

      I hope you have not forgotten that the Government of Sierra Leone has substantial shares in the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank and the Rokel Commercial Bank. I also hope that you have not forgotten that APC operatives in the last government used one of these banks as their piggy bank thereby bringing it to the verge of collapse. It follows that your suggestion for the Ministry of Trade to operate as a bank with more favorable terms of lending would end up usurping the functions of the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank and the Rokel Commercial Bank and in the process becoming another avenue for rent seeking by unscrupulous government officials. Such schemes of governance thrive more in places like Cuba and North Korea where power hungry fanatics rule with an iron fist.

      Increased government intervention in the economy in a free market environment increases costs thereby hurting society more than helping it. Government through its bureaucratic tendency makes wrong decisions and is susceptible to be influenced by pressure groups. Suffice it that governments, unlike the private sector, are more likely to spend on inefficient projects that produce inefficient outcomes.

      In a country like ours where politics have become a blood sport, where the opposition is not only suspicious but thrives on negative political and economic developments while praying day in and day out for the government to fail, president Bio should never be tempted to micromanage the affairs of the state. Today, the president is blamed for everything, from a parent refusing to send his child to school to the police clamping down on lawlessness coming from no where else but from opposition quarters. Thus, the more the government delegates power the better.

      Lastly, you accuse me of holding preconceived notions relative to developments in Salone. While I laugh at this notion, I have never declared or feigned neutrality when it comes to Salone politics. I was born into an SLPP family in Freetown and I remain a solid member of that party. I detest the APC and NGC no less than you detest the SLPP and APC. But this is very healthy in a democratic formation. Political diversity nurtures the democratic state.

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