Sierra Leone Telegraph: 1 October 2018:
It seems not much has changed in Sierra Leone’s politics since 2007 when the former SLPP government was ousted from office through the ballot box by the APC party, in what was described as a deeply controversial national election, which saw hundreds of polling station ballots, especially in the SLPP heartland nullified.
Ten years of Koroma led APC government which ended through the ballot box six months ago, did very little for national cohesion, as the all too frequent recurrence of political violence between APC and SLPP supporters threatened the peace and stability of the country.
Today, both parties are at loggerheads once again, with the country’s democratic foundation, human rights and civil liberty, being called into question.
The eruption of violence at last Saturday’s by-election in Kambia which prompted the National Electoral Commission to cancel the polling, has been condemned by many in and out of Sierra Leone.
This afternoon, stakeholders representing the international community published a statement condemning the violence. “We condemn this violence, which regrettably led to the loss of life, and call upon the authorities to investigate and take appropriate steps to bring the perpetrators to justice,” the release states.
The statement is signed by Maria Brewer, U.S. Ambassador ; Guy Warrington, British High Commissioner; Catherine Campbell, the Irish Ambassador; Tom Vens, EU Ambassador; and Horst Gruner, the German Ambassador Designate to Sierra Leone.
So, what does the ruling SLPP say about the accusation that it is behind last Saturday’s violence? This is a statement published today by the SLPP secretary general – Mr Umaru Koroma:
“The Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) vehemently condemns the political violence that occurred in the by-elections in Ward 196 Tonko Limba Chiefdom in Kambia District that resulted in the death of one youth, and the subsequent cancellation of the election result by the National Electoral Commission.
“This event occurring in an area purported to be an APC stronghold points to the fact that the main opposition APC has still not come to terms with their election defeat of March 31, 2018, but are ready at any time to perpetuate violence and cause unrest when given the opportunity.
“The huge presence of APC politicians in the persons of Alimamy Petito Koroma, Lansana Fadika, Hon. Abdul Karim Kamara, Karamoh Kabba, Bai Mahmoud etc in Ward 196, was a clear pointer of their desperation to impose themselves on an unwilling people who are beginning to show appreciation of the SLPP led government under the astute presidency of His Excellency Julius Maada Bio.
“On the 16th of June 2018, the National Electoral Commission conducted a multi-member ward election in Bonthe, the home district of His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio, where the APC won one of the seats.
“There was no report of any political violence in an area purported to be the stronghold of the SLPP. The SLPP as a peaceful and tolerant political party, peacefully participated in the said election and conceded the one ward to the APC councillor that won it.
“The above situation was a far cry in Ward 196 Tonko Limba Chiefdom, Kambia district, as the APC suspecting the imminent victory of the SLPP in the ward, ignited violence claiming that members of the SLPP had no right to be present in the ward which the APC supporters described as their own Kailahun in the North.
“This situation is very unfortunate, particularly when it has led to the death of an innocent Sierra Leonean in an election that no one was supposed to be insulted.
“Even the Chief Electoral Commissioner Mr. Nfa Conteh was not spared of the APC thuggery as his vehicle came under attack in the same ward, forcing him to flee for his precious life.
“In this regard, the Sierra Leone Peoples Party calls for the following:
“That a full investigation be launched to determine the perpetrators of the violence in the bye Elections in Ward 196 and bring the culprits to book.
“That the events leading to the death of the youth be fully investigated and those responsible be brought before the law.
“That the APC be advised by the PPRC and other stakeholders to encourage full political participation of all Sierra Leoneans in any part of the Republic of Sierra Leone.
“That the Leadership of the All People’s Congress admonishes their members and supporters to desist and cease from violent attacks against SLPP and other rival party members and supporters and to stop perpetrating criminal damage on portraits/banners/posters of SLPP candidate (s) in all future elections.
“That the SLPP general membership remains calm, law abiding and maintain the peace at all times while the Leadership of the Sierra Leone Police ensures speedy investigation into the political violence in Kambia.”