Sierra Leone Telegraph: 01 June 2020:
Yesterday, 31st May 2020, is a day many in Sierra Leone – especially opposition APC supporters, who according to the results of the last general elections make up over 50% of the popular votes polled, remembered as another sad day in the country’s political history. (Photo above: Hon. Hariyatu Ariana Bangura was elected to represent constituency 116 but had her seat taken away from her).
On the 31st May 2019, swathes of APC parliamentary seats won at the 2018 elections, were unlawfully handed over to the SLPP party who had failed to win control of parliament to form a majority government.
Ten elected APC members of parliament had their seats seized, in what is seen by many as retributive justice – or as some would say – retaliatory justice, after a ruling by the High Court of Sierra Leone to nullify the election results of those constituencies, subject to an appeal by the APC.
But those appeal hearings are still held in abeyance after a year of procrastination and failure by the country’s Chief Justice, to ensure a speedy resolution to the highly inflammatory political dispute between the ruling SLPP and the main opposition APC.
Adding salt to injury, yesterday also marked a dark chapter of political instability, as heavily armed police fired teargas canisters at the opposition APC party offices on 31st May 2019, injuring several APC party supporters and placing dozens in detention, following the High Court ruling and the immediate swearing-in of ruling SLPP MPs by the Speaker of Parliament to replace their elected APC counterparts.
According to members and supporters of the APC, all of this took place under the watchful eye of the International Community, whom they regard as “moral guarantors of the country’s ever-growing fragile peace”.
According to AFP News reporting on those historic events a year ago – 31 May, 2019:
“Just minutes after the court ruling that revoked the parliamentary seats of ten leading opposition party legislators, violence erupted at the opposition APC party headquarters in Freetown. Dozens of people were arrested including senior opposition party executives and former ministers, according to a police source. The Sierra Leone high court on Friday revoked the parliamentary seats of ten leading opposition party legislators, wiping out their majority in the chamber and prompting clashes with police on the streets of Freetown.
“The court took the action against 10 of the 16 deputies of the opposition All Peoples Congress (APC) who were being prosecuted for alleged breaches of electoral law linked to the legislative elections which took place in March 2018. The court also ordered an election re-run for a parliamentary seat near Freetown. Nine of the deputies were kicked out immediately and replace by candidates of the ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) who had come second in last year’s elections. The tenth will be replaced in a by-election. APC lawyers said they intended to take the case to the supreme court.
“Just minutes after the court ruling, violence erupted between APC supporters and police at the party headquarters in Freetown. Dozens of people were arrested, including senior party executives and former ministers, according to a police source.
“Our supporters were teargassed in our party office for hours, by the police, the main opposition party’s secretary general Alhaji Foday Yanssaneh told AFP. “Our party office was also vandalised and looted during the riot by the police. It’s is very sad day for our democracy,” Yanssaneh added.
“The court decision effectively wipes out the APC majority in parliament. The figures as they stand now are SLPP 58 seats and APC 57 seats. “It’s a victory for our party and the rule of law,” ruling party spokesman Lahai Lawrence Leema told AFP amidst jubilations at their party headquarters.
Yesterday, as APC supporters called for justice and the intervention of the international community, to press on the chief justice to swiftly bring this matter to a close, ruling SLPP party supporters were in no hurry to see justice being done.
Recalling what happened to their party after the 2012 general elections, this is what some SLPP supporters said yesterday: “SLPP MPs representing constituencies in Kenema and Kailahun lost their seats in Parliament after a similar court ruling – annulling their votes; and now that the tables have been turned, the opposition APC are crying foul play.”
But president Bio ran for the 2018 elections promising to end retributive and retaliatory justice in Sierra Leone. Today he has done the opposite.
His ruling party has become both the benefactor and beneficiary of retributive and retaliatory justice in Sierra Leone.
Will those ten APC members of parliament, now languishing in political wilderness after they were deposed in what seemed like a parliamentary coup on 31st May 2019 that was aided by the justice system, ever get justice?
These are the ten MPs awaiting justice – one sadly died a few weeks ago: Hon. Sheriff Carew (late) – const. 122; Hon. John Satti Kargbo const.111; Hon. Sirajin Rawlings Kamara – const. 127; Hon. Osman Abdel Timbo – Const.130; Hon. Ahmed Mansaray – const. 121; Hon. Momoh Kamara – const. 120; Hon. Abu Bakarr Foday Sillah – 128; Hon. Khadijatu Davies – const. 110 ; Hon. Hariyatu Ariana Bangura – const 116; and Hon. Kemokoh Conteh – const. 108.
The good news is, Maada has yet to exercise “Supreme Authority” promulgated by the Judiciary under Ernest Koroma. Where were you all when ErnestKoroma single handedly ruled the country against the constitution, the law of the land? Were you drunk on Chinua Champagne, his brother’s favourite liquor? “Recalling what happened to their party after the 2012 general elections, this is what some SLPP supporters said yesterday: “SLPP MPs representing constituencies in Kenema and Kailahun lost their seats in Parliament after a similar court ruling – annulling their votes; and now that the tables have been turned, the opposition APC are crying foul play.”
The fact is, the good mannered SLPP members never jumped unto the streets but sat peacefully amid Ernest Koroma’s injustices. Sadly, none of you criticized him for redrawing the political map leading to the creation of a questionable parliamentary majority for your party. How can you claim and justify equal representation for the APC newly created district that leads to automatic Parliamentary majority in parliament – Districts with scarce population less than quarters of Kailahun District or for that matter any South-Eastern district? This is the heart of the problem. The Ernest Koroma and APC bitter pills the Sierra Leonean people were left to swallow. Hopefully, the SLPP will have an opportunity to provide us with an accurate Census.
Until we, as ordinary voters undergo a revolution of values or thought, the political scene in Sierra Leone will remain stuck in one spot for eternity. We won’t see any progress, our grand children won’t see any progress, our great, great grand children won’t see any progress. The trend will continue till the trumpet is blown calling the world to order that the world as we have known it, is at an end.
APC and SLPP habour abiding hatred for each other. As power shifts from one to the other, the hatred deepens as the successor unleashes venom on the predecessor. The predecessor cries foul and wants the entire solar system to condemn the actions of the successor.
Let us all take a deep and objective analytical look at our country’s contemporary political history and we won’t fail to see that what SLPP are now doing to APC what was done to SLPP in another guise decades ago.
The revolution we the people must execute, is to terminate the blood feud between these two parties by keeping them out of office in the next presidential election. Being on the outside looking in like typical spectators, should enable them to see all their mistakes. If they ever get back in, they will be different players. It is even quite possible that their respective teams will enter the arena with fresh blood with positive revolutionary ideas. Let us stop crying and moaning when we have the power in our hands to change the scene.
This President will go down forever in history as the worst to ever rule Sierra Leone,simply because he has squandered an excellent opportunity to genuinely unite,and move this tiny nation of ours forward towards genuine progress.Instead the man has selfishly promoted rampant tribalism behind the scenes,raised the banners of hatred,and revenge frighteningly high for our people to see,and emulate;molded,with his own wicked hands countless adversaries,and created just like an erratic,twisted-minded artist,nemeses,arch-enemies,and arch-rivals,everywhere countless as grains of corn,to appease his eerie,sadistic appetite,and love of chaos,and anarchy.
The SLPP is a disaster story – they have ignited political fires,stoked the flames of discord everywhere,without showing any kind of remorse,and restraint whatsoever.And it gets worse:instead of streamlining,and simplifying government,this President,has crossed the line of prudence,and senselessly created an over-bloated government the likes of which have never been seen ever before,in Sierra Leone.Its easy to see,they are engaged in fleecing the system,squeezing,and milking it dry,systematically swindling the poor masses of Sierra Leone.
What a bunch of criminals;thieves they are that should never be holding public offices in the first place.A damn shame!State House has now become transformed into a bizarre roadside marketplace;henchmen,Yes-men,Con-men,loafing around,in the surroundings everywhere,waiting for handouts from a corrupt President,and his thieving ministers.No jobs have been created,because they lack the ingenuity to do to do so;no investors have come because of their shady,underhanded,dubious,arrogant attitudes,and unrealistic demands.
This was a clear violation of the rights of the people that voted for this MPs. It means those people elected to represent their voices will not be heard.You vote because you want your voice to be heard. Otherwise we should abolish parliament, and gather all seven million Sierra Leoneans in a stadium or stadiums to debate and comment on the issues affecting our country. You could imagine how that debate will unfold. We want to build a school in Pujehun, someone will put their hand up, what about us in Kono? We produce diamonds and we want our own health centre, but we never benefit from the diamonds we produce for the country.
It soon generates to a shouting match. And when it comes to development, our country stride even further backwards. I blame our judiciary, that has adopted the tactics of the chameleon that constantly change their colour to suit their environment. If the APC in the red corner is in power, our not so independent minded judges goes with whatever they instruct them to do. Talk of useless judiciary it can’t get worst than that. We need crocodiles with teeth that can bite when required regardless of who put their hands in their mouth or better still who pay their salaries. After all, this is public money, not the private bank account of any political parties in Sierra Leone. Now they are changing their colour to green to adopted to their new environment to suit their SLPP and masters in government.
We are used to the men dressed in army fatigue wearing dark sun glasses even in the middle of the night carrying out coups. But this time it was the judges in red robes, and wigs that have done it for this government with not a shot fired in anger. We need an effective and independent judiciary, like South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya. The one thing these countries have in common is they fought and shed blood for their freedom from their colonial masters. They know the effectiveness of an independent judiciary. As for Sierra Leone up till the RUF civil war, the only other time we had war was the Bia Bureh hot tax war and the Mammy Yoko uprisings in the 1800s. Otherwise, they are there to interpret the laws of the land as laid out in the statue books. This slippery slope of our judiciary taking sides needs to stop for the interest of peace and harmony above all else.
Yes, political injustices and retribution reigns supreme today in a nation that was few years ago, considered the most peaceful in the subregion. The coming to power of the Bio regime has indeed ushered in a political fiasco in our nation, threatening to derail all our democratic credential gains over the past 2 decades. Reflecting on past political events and the campaign promises of then candidate Bio, it is unfathomable to have predicted such a turn of events. However, if one is to step back, scope the slogan of the Bio regime, PAOPA, translating in our local parlance—it is my way, or the highway; one will obviously make sense of the turn of events affecting our nation.
At the backdrop of the Ebola crisis along with falling iron ore prices at the international market, the former EBK regime suddenly founded itself in a dilemma—our once declare fastest growing economy in the world came crashing, forcing the government to institute austerity measures. Almost overnight, our local currency depreciated against foreign currencies leading to a skyrocketing of basic commodities across the nation. Even though the ambient of peace and freedom exists, the insatiable extravagant lifestyles of corrupt APC officials led for the citizens to demand a change of government. With economic situation getting worst by the day, candidate Bio seized the opportunity to sell his utopia promises across the nation.
With his mindset laser focus at State House, Bio had managed to recruit some ex-combatant elements to carry out his PAOPA crusade—in-house SLPP members opposing his candidacy were subjected to threats, beatings and other humiliating tactics. With an instilled fear within the SLPP party, majority of the aspiring flagbearers were forced to chicken-out, paving the way for the Bio presidency. Now at the helm of the power, the same dogmatic, intimidating, and repressive tactics are being employed with opposition members being targeted for arrest and citizens who dare speak up risking incarceration.
The truth of the matter is this, “But president Bio ran for the 2018 elections promising to end retributive and retaliatory justice in Sierra Leone. Today he has done the opposite. His ruling party has become both the benefactor and beneficiary of retributive and retaliatory justice in Sierra Leone.” It’s from the frying pan to the fire, when we compare what is happening now to then. Will the voters ever trust President Bio and his Bio SLPP in any future elections? Thank God, that the damage has been done only to the Bio SLPP and the Bio SLPP followers. I always think about what will happen when the tide changes in two years time. We will really have to work overtime to stop people from retaliating on any Bio SLPP supporter.
It would definitely be a Herculean task, but we will succeed. Inshallah. The Bio SLPP has hurt every opposition party in the country, which have left no room for them to manoeuvre. Because of all these nonsense, irresponsible and reckless barbaric and violent behavior of the Bio SLPP against our gallant opposition, the opposition must come together to make sure, the Bio SLPP no longer near the seat of power and make their political presence history in Sierra Leone forever come 2023. God bless Mr Abdul Rashid Thomas for giving me the privilege to express my God given freedom on this very serious and dangerous example, that has been set by President Bio and his Bio SLPP for future governments to follow. Really scary.