Sierra Leone Telegraph: 9 March 2019:
Since losing the March 2018 elections, there have been incessant calls for the country’s opposition APC party to reform or face indefinite stay on the opposition benches, if not extinction.
And recently, the party’s parliamentary leaders have come under fierce attack by sections of the party, who are accusing them of selling out to the ruling SLPP party that is now working hard to consolidate its power across the country, through ‘dialogue and constructive engagement’.
In particular, it is the APC leader in parliament – Chernor (Chericoco) Bah (Photo) who has borne the brunt of this attack.
He has been asked to step down to make way for a new APC parliamentary leader, after accusation of currying favours from State House in return for appointment as speaker of ECOWAS.
One such call for the APC leader in parliament – Chernor (Chericoco) Bah to step down, came from a senior and most influential APC party member. And it reads: “Our APC party needs to immediately change top four of the APC parliamentary leadership. All four of them MUST be sent to back benches”.
To add insult to injury, the executives of the opposition APC last week went to State House along with 17 other opposition leaders to have dialogue with president Bio. This too has not gone down well for the executives of the main opposition APC, with further accusation of betrayal from many supporters of the APC party.
But yesterday, the APC party National Secretary General – Dr. Alhaji Osman Foday Yansaneh, replied his critics and cynics alike.
Yansaneh (seen in the above photo shaking hands with the president) has issued a public statement in an attempt to explain why he and the party’s deputy leader – Minkailu Mansaray (seen in the photo below shaking hands with the president) went to State House for a meeting with president Bio.
This is what he said:
On the invitation of His Excellency, the President Julius Maada Bio, the leaders of the seventeen (17) registered political parties met with the President at State House on the 1st March 2019. We wish to make it known to our members and the citizenry of Sierra Leone that the APC only attended out of respect for the Presidency.
The APC would have ordinarily not attended because the President and his Government have so far not shown any respect for our revered constitution, rule of law, separation of powers and even the basic tenets of democracy and good governance.
Members of our Party at all levels have continued to suffer incessant harassment, intimidation and brutalization in the hands of the SLPP Government and its agents.
The Leadership of the Party was appalled to observe that this long overdue meeting did not address any of the concerns of the APC but rather focused on trivial issues like the provision of stipend to political parties; reduction of nomination fees for candidates in the Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Council elections and the need for inclusivity in the Governance of the state.
The APC wishes to make it known that it has no interest in serving in the SLPP Government and made this abundantly clear to the President.
While welcoming the idea of meeting with all registered political parties, the APC drew attention of the President to the fact that unity and social cohesion can never be achieved when members of the opposition, including its Leader and Chairman, are not accorded the dignity and respect they so deserve.
The way in which the Leader and Chairman of the APC was almost refused entry back into Sierra Leone after a short visit abroad was very unfortunate. Such approval was only granted after a protracted engagement with the police.
The citizenry of this country will be appalled to note that former President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has been repeatedly denied the courtesies and protocols normally accorded former Heads of State at the Lungi International Airport.
Former President Koroma has been constrained to use his car as his lounge whenever he wishes to travel abroad through the Lungi International Airport. He has been repeatedly refused access to the Presidential Lounge. This is unprecedented in the recent political history of our country.
The APC Deputy Chairman and National Secretary General informed the meeting that the Constitution of this country has been consistently violated as evidenced in:
1. The way in which the Speaker of Parliament was imposed on the majority party in Parliament;
2. The Commissions of Inquiry which were set up in clear violation of Section 150 of the Constitution of Sierra Leone;
3. The usurpation of the powers of Parliament by issuing Executive Orders that contravene relevant provisions of the constitution.
4. The appointment of a new NEC commissioner (South) in breach of Section 32 of the constitution and forwarding his name for approval to parliament without consultation with political parties.
The independence of the Judiciary has regrettably been compromised repeatedly:
1. The failure of the Chief Justice to allow the petitions against the election of President Julius Maada Bio to be expeditiously handled in court.
2. The failure of the Chief Justice to appropriately respond to the filing by the APC Party on behalf of the Persons of Interest as represented by Dr. Samura Kamara and Mr. Paolo Conteh and even the Bar Association requesting the Supreme Court to interpret relevant provisions of the constitution and to determine whether due process has been followed in the ongoing Commissions of Inquiry.
3. The failure of the Chief Justice to even listen to the advice from his Law Officers Department who admonished him to recuse himself from the matter because he cannot be a Judge in his own course.
4. The unfortunate way in which the Chief Justice and the Attorney General demonstrated blind partisan loyalty in the statements they delivered at the launching of the Commissions of Inquiry.
The APC Party and its members have been brutalized, raped and even killed on various occasions all over the country:
1. The killings in Mile 91, Lumley here in Freetown and more recently in Tonko Limba are some examples.
2. The cases of rape of our members from Kailahun and other parts of this country.
3. Judiciary and Police – The incidents of murder, arson, harassment and victimization by the police and SLPP supporters of APC supporters. Cases filed in court or reported have not been listed by the Chief Justice. The APC admonishes the Chief Justice to list and hear the 32 petition cases of election malpractices already filed in court against some SLPP MPs.
Our Parliament has been reduced to a laughing stock in the sub region and beyond:
1. The way in which the Minority imposed a Speaker on the majority Party in Parliament is unprecedented.
2. The attempt by the Speaker and the Leader of Government business in Parliament to illegally pass bills into law without following due process as was recently exemplified in the attempt to pass the legislative instrument against Rape.
The massive sackings of young promising Sierra Leoneans across the board and their replacement by SLPP Party loyalists without recourse to due process is unprecedented in the history of Sierra Leone and sets a very dangerous precedence.
The APC Party also wishes to draw the attention of our citizenry and development partners to the undue harassment and intimidation meted out to members of the security forces (Police and military) that served under the previous constitutionally elected government of former President Koroma.
The APC wishes it to the known that security forces across all sectors are under sacred oath to serve the state and defend the constitution at all times. Such service should therefore not be used as a justification for undue harassment, intimidation and even court martial.
The families of many of these gallant officers have now been devastated and torn apart. This is an unfortunate development that must be stopped immediately.
The APC Party wishes to make it known that it will uphold and defend the constitution of this country at all times. It will not allow the SLPP led Government to continue to abuse the constitution; compromise the independence of the judiciary and flout the standing Orders of Parliament with impunity.
We therefore call on President Julius Maada Bio to take immediate steps to address these concerns in order to ensure peace and stability in our beloved country.
Signed – Dr. Alhaji Osman Foday Yansaneh, APC party National Secretary General
See press statement: