Political violence erupted again in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 30 July 2019:

With less than a month to go before by-elections are held in Hamilton, in the far west of Freetown constituency 110 in Sierra Leone, both the two main political parties have once again drawn swords.

Yesterday’s by-election campaign rally by the opposition All People’s Congress Party (APC) turned violent, leaving several people injured and properties set alight. The deputy organising secretary of the APC – Karamoh Kabba, has been arrested on suspicion of being involved in the violence.

It is not yet clear what started the violence. There are conflicting accounts from the supporters and leadership of both the ruling SLPP and the opposition APC, blaming each other.

According to the BBC reporter – Umaru Fofanah; “Police have arrested Karamoh Kabba, the deputy organising secretary of the opposition APC party following violent clashes in Hamilton on Monday evening between supporters of his party and the ruling SLPP. It follows the torching of two vehicles parked inside the compound of Josephine Jackson who is the candidate of the ruling SLPP ahead of a crucial parliamentary bye-election on 24 August. Police accuse Kabbah of complicity in the violence.

“But speaking to me before he was taken to the Adonkiya police cell, Kabbah said he was not at the scene during the clashes saying instead that their own party supporters were stoned and injured during what was their party’s turn to hold a political rally in the area. Mrs Jackson said he saw Kabbah and some other opposition bigwigs leading the attack on her house. The police local unit commander CSP Musa Bandabla said the rally had ended when opposition supporters returned to the area.”

Both the APC and SLPP leadership have issued statements denying responsibility and blaming the other for what could be the resumption of a new wave of political violence in Sierra Leone, following general and presidential elections which were held over sixteen months ago.

This is the statement published last night by the APC Secretary General – Osman Yansaneh (Photo):

“The APC would like to bring to the attention of the general public that Monday 29th July 2019 was approved by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) as the day allocated to the APC to launch its campaign and rally  in constituency 110 in the Western Area.

“The launching ceremony at the Goderich Community Centre was successfully conducted and the party members went on the campaign trail as is required by NEC. No other political party is allowed to come out to disrupt the process or come out to campaign. The party members rallied in several villages and towns to sensitize their supporters and everything went on peacefully.

“However members of the APC were violently attacked by thugs of the SLPP candidate at Hamilton village. As a result several APC supporters sustained severe injuries from stabbing and stoning from these thugs. Many victims were conveyed to the emergency hospital for treatment. The Deputy Organising Secretary Mr Karamoh Kabba who visited the victims decided to report the matter to the Adonkia Police Station.

“It was while he was making a statement at the police station that somebody said Karamoh Kabba was present at Hamilton where the fighting took place and was immediately arrested. The National Secretary General reported this unfortunate incident to the Deputy Inspector General who said he had not been informed by his junior officers  about the incident. He promised to look into the matter and get back to me.

“When the NSG later contacted him again he assured me he will ask the ADONKIA police to take Karamoh kabba’s statement and get him released. The others who are from the SLPP were at liberty to make counter reports or claims. Up to the time of sending this message Karamoh Kabba is still detained at the Adonkia police station.

“The National Secretariat is urging the police to immediately release Karamoh Kabba and pursue those who disrupted the APC rally and unleashed unwarranted violence against peaceful party members and supporters of the APC.

“Singed: Amb Dr Alhaji Osman F Yansaneh, NSG APC”.

The statement by the General Secretary of the ruling SLPP – Napoleon Koroma, was equally evasive. This is what he said:

“In the early hours of this evening, the Sierra Leone People’s Party candidate for the parliamentary bye election in Constituency 110 Madam Josephine Jackson, came under attack by supporters and hoodlums  of the APC on the day prescribed for the  APC candidate to rally. (Photo: Napoleon Koroma).

“Madam Jackson’s house was pelted with stones and other offensive materials and eventually her vehicle was set ablaze and burnt to ashes by the assailants. Several of her relatives and well-wishers were wounded,  an unarmed RSLAF personnel was also injured.

“The SLPP takes a dim view of this incident and unequivocally and in no uncertain terms condemns this barbaric and crude tactic deployed by our opponents who have already sensed defeat in the August polls and want to scuttle it.

“We call on the police to institute a swift investigation of the attack and prosecute whosoever is found culpable. We also demand full protection of our candidate including her house.

“Meanwhile we are admonishing our supporters to remain calm and desist from any retaliatory action. As a law abiding party, we want to respect the security forces and allow them do their work of investigating the ugly incident.

“We want to assure our members in  Constituency 110 and any other parts of the country that the party will do everything within its reach to protect them. This attack will not in any way forestall our campaign program. We entreat all to be steadfast and remain law abiding.

“Signed: Umaru Napoleon Koroma, Secretary General”.

The police are yet to issue a statement about the violence, but are believed to be conducting an investigation, which many say will lead to nothing, as is the case with all previous political violence in Sierra Leone.

No one will be held responsible and accountable for yesterday’s violence. But what is certain is that yesterday’s skirmishes signify the beginning of more serious violence at other election campaign rallies, scheduled for the coming weeks and months.

Sierra Leone remains one of the poorest countries in Africa, with over 70% of young people out of work. The economy is facing serious challenges which the Bio-led SLPP government is yet to address, such as rising inflation, the declining value of the Leone, low national productivity, rising government borrowing, continuing over-reliance on mining, and very low export revenue.

Political violence can only worsen the country’s economic crisis and drive away foreign investors.

This is a video showing former president Koroma who is the chairman and leader of the APC, welcoming his party supporters at his home in Goderich before heading for the election campaign rally which later turned violent yesterday:

13 Comments

  1. I have said it before and let me say it again today, there are many people in the APC party that needed to disappear immediately, or else the country would not be peaceful. 1- Ernest Bai Koroma; 2- Osman Foday Yansaneh – the so called the APC secretary general. EBK still assessed himself as a secret president of Sierra Leone. This is not JMB’s job it’s ours.

  2. It is worth noting that during the reign of the APC party, our country experienced relative peace during electioneering, not because the APC party deployed the military or the Police to keep the peace but because the SLPP party which was in opposition at the time always conformed to the rules laid down by the NEC regarding the conduct of our national and local elections.

    However, following the defeat of the APC at the 2018 national elections, we have seen a spate of violence we have not experienced in a long time. The APC party under the tutelage of their ‘chairman for life’ Ernest Bai Koroma, has vowed to destabilize the fragile peace we have in our country. To achieve their objective, they have employed all types of antics and tactics to include violence, intimidation and the destruction of properties that belong to their perceived political opponents.

    These acts are becoming brazen by the minute because of the perception that the current SLPP government is weak and ineffectual. Now, their operatives want us to believe that this recent violence was perpetrated by the SLPP supporters even when overwhelming evidence suggest that the SLPP candidate is the victim of their intimidation and violence.

    For the sake of maintaining law and order in our country, I hope our President Maada Bio, will take off his kid’s gloves and treat these hooligans as domestic terrorists. Doing otherwise, will pose a threat to his presidency in the not so distant future. Enough is enough!

  3. APC will never claim power again in this country. Let the whole of Sierra Leone know that they are the enemies of this country. Bio shouldn’t have given them that huge sum of money.

  4. Oh foolish sierra Leoneans – why killing each other for political parties? What happened and what have you guys gained after 58 years of independence? Please change your attitudes and count your blessings.

  5. Well said by Mr. Abu Jalloh. Another failure of the police. It is expected that when a rival political party is given permission to rally, the police should not only police the rally but also to protect the house and property of the opposite politicians in that constituency. If the police did not, it is pathetic.

    Having said that, if the APC supporters who by the evidence in the above video numbered in thier thousands were attacked during their rally why would it be at the opposing politicians house and compound? How would somebody (Mrs Jackson) who had petitioned the APC and won a court verdict to have a second vote, be foolish enough to have her supporters attack thousands of APC supporters in or around her house? Something does not add up. I hope that the police would do an expeditious and impartial investigation. This violence should be condemned.

  6. Whenever there is political violence,the recriminations between SLPP and APC cloud the entire incident to the extent that in the end no one is left any wiser, in order to apportion blame in a bid to hold somebody responsible.

    This makes it impossible for anybody to be prosecuted and possibly sent to jail. Impunity,therefore, is given the freedom to carve itself into the minds of perpetrators of violence – be they SLPP or APC. Innocent victims have no recourse to justice, let alone compensation.

    Since it is always the two major parties [SLPP and APC] that are involved in all political violence, law enforcement seems incapacitated to spring into action to execute arrests and charges. The source of this phenomenon is quite simply that all top positions in the country have had politics injected into them. This makes their holders use emotions instead of professionalism to carry out their duties.

    How else can one understand or explain IG Moigbe’s lack of any initiative to stamp out political violence and crime in general in the country? He is the number one police officer in the country going by the awe provoking title of Inspector General of Police with PhD behind his name.

    The man is torn between the outgone APC government, headed by Ernest Koroma who is still politically active, and the current government headed by Maada Bio. The former gave him the job and the latter wants to keep him on to appease the Kono people.

    This time it is Hamilton. What’s the next location for political violence? We have a way out: Bring in NGC or we are headed for a conflict of national proportion. A revolution of sorts is needed.

  7. “We also demand full protection of our candidate including her house.” Napoleon Koroma. This should not be the words of a political party in power. Instead of demanding full protection of its candidate, the SLPP should ORDER full protection of its candidate. The SLPP knows that it is up against a perpetually violent political party that is running scared. What does it expect the APC to do? Lie down and say kumbaya?

    I hope those responsible for these dastardly acts are prosecuted to the full extent of the law; and if found guilty, are made to serve extensive prison terms.

  8. The Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) is without any doubt the rotten apple in the bunch. It had always been a ROGUE PARTY; and its violent and intimidating attitude intensified since the party became a PAOPA outfit. The SLPP’s main tactic is to blackmail and undermine the All Peoples Congress (APC) party at all times – because it (SLPP) lack the means to win elections outside the South East of the country.

    Let’s face it, the SLPP has never had the requisite numbers, and as well as the appropriate policies to be a popular party in a dirt-poor country like Sierra Leone. Unlike the APC, the SLPP has never been a people’s party – and it will never be. The treacherous behaviour of the SLPP can be exposed by simple logic: Why was there no commotion when the SLPP held their campaign?

  9. APC Leaders And their supporters are really the enemies of progress in their own country. Unbelievable and heart breaking.

    • You are a law enforcement officer and you are done with the investigation. Let’s try to be responsibly in our public outburst.

  10. This type of situation ought to have been well avoided by the police. However, this had been the pratice of the APC during their long years in power. That does not mean the SLPP is involved in the problem. I am sure the police will look into all the situation to find the culprits. GOD BLESS SIERRA LEONE, THE PRESIDENT AND THE PEOPLE.

    • The police are not proactive. One would think that the police would provide adequate security for all of the contestants whether for the ruling party or opposition parties. But what is baffling about the current political mayhem at Hamilton community is the fact that the APC is saying that the supporters of the Ruling party attacked their supporters who were out campaigning on thier assigned day.

      The newspaper reports state that the cars of the ruling candidate were burnt in her compound. So was the APC campaign conducted in the compound of the Ruling party candidate who happens to be a woman and the person who had petitioned the APC candidate in court after the 2018 election victory of the APC candidate?

      This is baffling because the information is lacking something. I hope that the reactive police would investigate this matter properly and bring the perpetrators to book – be they ruling or opposition party supporters.

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