Sierra Leone Telegraph: 04 April 2023:
A deadly standoff last Sunday at Mile 38 between security forces and a convoy carrying the presidential candidate of Sierra Leone’s main opposition APC party, became very ugly after security forces refused permission for Dr Samura’s convoy to proceed along the Highway to the capital Freetown.
Large crowds had gathered along the route to Freetown to welcome the APC presidential candidate who had returned from a working visit to the United States. But the police stopped his convoy made up of dozens of vehicles carrying his security detail, staff and party members.
Videos posted on social media show the heavily armed security forces who had barricaded the road, arguing with angry protesting APC party supporters, demanding their freedom of movement and accusing the security forces of acting on orders from above – a euphemism for orders from State House.
In another video, teargas was seen thrown under the vehicle carrying Dr Samura Kamara (Photo below), and some party supporters present at the scene say that live bullets were fired by the police. An accusation the police have not accepted.
But as the standoff came to a climax, Dr Samura spoke through a megaphone to his supporters – telling them to remain calm, after at least one of his supporters was seen angrily taking his shirt off in front of the heavily armed security forces demanding that the blockade be removed.
Dr Samura was heard explaining to his angry supporters on his convoy that he has just had a conversation with the Inspector General of Police, who informed him that his convoy will be allowed to go through but only ten vehicles at a time.
Although the standoff ended relatively peacefully – with Dr Samura’s convoy led into the capital Freetown by sirened police vehicles, the executives of the opposition APC are accusing the security forces of attempting to assassinate Dr Samura Kamara.
“The All People’s Congress (APC) is highly concerned about the heightened intolerance by the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) Government of President Julius Maada Bio and its increasing use of state institutions, particularly the police and military, against our party, its leadership and supporters.
“Today, Sunday 2nd April 2023, troops of armed police and military personnel blocked the peaceful convoy of our leader and presidential candidate, Dr Samura Kamara, at Mile 38, some 61.2 kilometres from the capital Freetown.
“Dr Samura Kamara arrived at the Freetown International Airport last evening and, accompanied by an orderly coterie of peaceful and unarmed supporters, was driving to Freetown when armed police and military personnel stopped the APC presidential candidate, accosted him and his entourage with teargas and live ammunition.
“We are also very concerned about the arrest of some of our supporters at the scene. Of particular concern is the deliberate firing of teargas canisters under the vehicle carrying our Leader and Presidential Candidate but more so the firing of live rounds in his presence and at the tyres of vehicles belonging to his aides.
“The APC believes that this was an assassination attempt, which could have gone terribly wrong if it were not for the peaceful nature of our leader and his patriotic and mature handling of the unfortunate and irresponsible behaviour of the police. Such reckless behaviour by some sections of the state security, acting on political orders, constitute a threat to peace and security. (Photo: One of Dr Samura’s security with head wound).
“This is particularly in view of the fact that even though the Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone (ECSL) has not announced the dates for political campaigns, the incumbent presidential candidate and his ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) officials are all over the country, openly campaigning without any hindrance.
“While the APC strongly condemns this assassination attempt on our leader and presidential candidate, we are proud of our Leader’s patriotism and leadership in effectively diffusing such unprovoked animosity and potentially explosive situation.
“Less than three months to our nation’s presidential and general elections; it is extremely troubling that the ruling party could instigate such attitudes that clearly threaten the peace and stability of our beloved nation. We demand the immediate release of all our supporters arrested at the scene, as well a speedy and conclusive investigation of those involved in the Mile 38 obstruction and disturbances.
“As a government in waiting, while the APC highly prioritize and will continue to work towards a smooth, orderly and peaceful transition; we would also emphasize that there shall be consequences for anyone issuing and implementing unlawful orders.”
But contrary to the opposition APC’s statement, a notice issued by the police blames the opposition APC for the dangerous standoff which could have left many dead. This is what the police said: