Sierra Leone Telegraph: 01 December 2023:
Bai Mahmoud Bangura, the National Organising Secretary of Sierra Leone’s main opposition APC party was yesterday arrested at his residence by armed police, as the wave of arrests of senior APC officials continues in response to what the government says was an attempted coup last Sunday. (Photo above: Former President Koroma).
Earlier yesterday, social media was rife with unconfirmed reports of the arrest of the former president of Sierra Leone, – Ernest Bai Koroma, who until 2018 was the chairman and leader of the APC.
According to reports, at about 10am yesterday, Thursday November 30, 2023, truckloads of armed military and police personnel arrived at the Femi Turner Drive, Goderich residence in Freetown of former president Koroma. (Photo: APC’s Bai Mahmoud who was arrested yesterday).
Heavily armed soldiers and police blocked roads leading to the residence. All members of staff of the former president were arrested for questioning and taken to the CID.
The police conducted a search of the property but is unclear whether the former president was in the house.
It is also understood that about 30 armed security personnel stormed the Universal Church in Goderich, presumably looking for suspects of last Sunday’s alleged coup.
A video recorded by staff of the former president yesterday, shows an SUV belonging to and believed to be carrying the former president, being driven towards the central police station in Freetown. According to the reporter, the former president was heading to the CID for questioning.
But the Sierra Leone Telegraph was reliably informed that Ernest Bai Koroma was not under arrest, but had gone to the CID to ensure that his arrested staff and Bai Mahmoud were being treated fairly and humanely by the police.
Yesterday the government confirmed that so far, the number of government soldiers killed last Sunday stands at fifteen, and one police officer.
There are demands for the government to immediately publish the names of all those they claimed had lost their lives in the alleged coup to avoid accusation of coverup, as the debate continues over whether last Sunday’s incident was stage-managed by President Bio as a pretext to go after the opposition APC.
There are unconfirmed reports that dozens of known opposition supporters and members of the APC have been killed or arrested by the security forces – all of whom are northerners, as the military and police continue their house to house search for alleged coup plotters.
In another development, the British High Commissioner in Freetown – Lisa Chesney, yesterday held talks with senior government ministers and the leadership of the opposition APC, as part of what has been described as ‘confidence building dialogue’ to salvage the peace accord signed last month by the government and the opposition APC.
Ms, Chesney met President Bio’s chief minister Sengeh at his office, and also visited the APC chairman and leader – Dr Samura Kamara.
Writing on Twitter, Ms Chesney said: “In meetings with Government and Opposition, all agreed that violence to undermine a State is never justified. Now, more than ever, commitments made in the peace dialogue must be implemented, to benefit all of Sierra Leone. The Uk is ready to work with and support the government and all stakeholders in this.”
Trust and confidence between the ruling SLPP and the APC are now at an all-time low, as the government seems determined to pursue its stated goal of crushing the APC, which president Bio says is a terrorist group.
But such dangerous mission can only lead to mutual destruction of both parties, at the expense of the peace and stability of Sierra Leone.