Sierra Leone Telegraph: 23 December 2015
One of Sierra Leone’s main opposition candidates for the presidency at the next presidential election in 2017 – Mr. Alie Kabba has today been arrested by police in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Alie Kabba is a popular politician who has in the past months been a fierce critic of the Koroma government. He lives in the United State under a dual citizenship, and formally announced his intention to stand for presidential election in Sierra Leone.
He returned to Sierra Leone two weeks ago to establish his campaign offices and embark on a nationwide tour.
Since returning to Sierra Leone, Kabba has been vociferously vocal in his criticism of the government’s handling of the economy, corruption in high places and the poor condition of state institutions.
Last week’s political violence which preceded the by-election in Kono, resulting in deaths and the burning down of properties belonging to opposition politicians, marks a dark resumption of anarchy in Sierra Leone.
A popular journalist – Jonathan Leigh is still behind bars in Freetown, following his arrest for reporting on last week’s political violence in Sierra Leone. Where is Sierra Leone heading?
Supporters of Kabba have tonight commenced a petition calling on president Obama of America to intervene and demand his immediate release. “Dr. Alie Kabba, a United States citizen visiting Sierra Leone, has been arrested by the Government of Sierra Leone one day after he gave an interview with the local Radio Democracy 98FM during which he criticized the government for corruption and nepotism.
“This morning Dr. Kabba was arrested and is currently being held without bail. Please impress on the Government of Sierra Leone to uphold the rule of law and desist from harassing and intimidating political opponents. Free Alie Kabba, he is a prisoner of conscience,” the petition statement reads.
According to the media campaign team of the main contender for the presidential candidacy of the opposition SLPP – Dr. Kandeh Yumkella:
“The Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella Movement team led by Ambassador Lawyer Fode Dabor and Brima Keita were at CID in solidarity with Dr. Allie Kabba. Yumkella who is in Moyamba was also in constant touch with his colleagues Of the Alliance by phone. We are informed that The Alliance stands firmly behind their colleague. As they said in their recent press conference: An attack on one is an attack on All.” (Photo: Yumkella – left, Kieli – centre, and Kabba – right, showing solidarity at the SLPP convention in America early this year).
When it comes to criticising the Koroma government, Alie Kabba pulls no punches.
And this could be seen in his reaction to the unconstitutional sacking of vice president Sam Sumana in February by president Koroma. This is what he said to the annoyance of State House:
“Once again, the governing APC party has succeeded in not just embarrassing themselves, but in making Sierra Leone the laughing stock of the world by the thuggish way that they have attempted to remove Vice President Sam Sumana.
“The misguided caboodle running that party seems to have forgotten that Sierra Leone is now a democracy.
“They have completely gone bonkers by failing to understand that no partisan unelected cabal of a political party has the right to meet in the middle of the night, arrogate for themselves the right to drive out of office a nationally elected vice president, and then brazenly try to manipulate the courts, Parliament, the police, and most troublingly, our armed forces, to back that unconstitutional move.
“It’s time for all of us to remind the APC bosses that although they may have a right to tell Sam Sumana that he is no longer a member of their party, they do not have the constitutional authority to “expel” him from the vice presidency of the country, and they definitely do not have the right to send in truckloads of soldiers in the wee hours of the morning to “change the security detail” of a vice president that they have just expelled from their party for the most cockamamie of implausible excuses, without telling him, and frightening his wife and kids.
“It’s time to remind APC that it has a duty and responsibility to act as a civilized, democratic and modern political party, and not the bad old APC of yesteryears, with all its attendant baggage of violence, corruption, thuggery and very dark history of throwing Bank Governors who disagreed with them off the balconies of their homes to their death, and executing cabinet ministers who crossed them.
“I am sure that Sam Sumana quickly remembered that history and took to his heels as soon as the soldiers and thugs disarmed his security and told him that they were only there to give him a nice massage. Would you blame him?
“My friends, what is happening to Sam Sumana cannot be simply dismissed as just an APC internal affair.
“It stains the democratic fabric of the nation. If good people had spoken out when Siaka Stevens was just beginning his brutal reign, individuals like Dr. Mohamed Sorie Fornah, Ibrahim Taqi, David Lansana, Francis Mishek Minnah and many others would not have been subsequently executed; S.L. Bangura would not have been murdered in his home for refusing to give Siaka Stevens a carte blanche to the treasury for his OAU glory; the use of thugs to harass opponents would not have happened; and governments, past and present, would have been held accountable for their actions a long time ago.
“The thing about all this sordid mess that I can’t quite wrap my head around is, why? Why in the world did APC provoke this very unnecessary confrontation that has badly backfired on them, and frankly put them in a very bad light?
“Why are they so allergic to Sam Sumana that they are ready to shred the constitution in their zeal to get rid of him? Why are they so hungry to get their hands around the political throat of the vice president that they are contradicting themselves with different excuses/reasons for their politically idiotic action?
“And why are they bringing the military into politics once again? These are very troubling questions that demand honest answers because I frankly believe that our democracy is under threat from the wanton recklessness and overarching ambition of the caboodle that is currently running APC and the country.
“The APC has broken all bounds in injecting religion into this Sam Sumana debacle. What the hell is going on with that party?
“We are guaranteed freedom of religion by the framers of our constitution, but nowhere in the constitution is there a provision about religious affiliation being a prerequisite for president, vice president or other high office.
“That is why I am shocked that APC seem to have doubled down on Sam Sumana’s religion as a reason for expelling him from their party. This is very dangerous, completely illogical and inexcusable, and a threat to our national security and cohesion as one people.
“That is why I am disappointed that APC has clumsily chosen to bring the vice president’s faith or lack thereof into the mix.
“Those who crafted the bag of lies and flimsy reasons to expel the Vice President should reflect, bow down in shame and apologize to the nation for this toxic and incomprehensible injection of religion into our already tense politics.
“Many Kono organizations have jointly released a statement expressing concern about the way VP Sumana is being hounded, harassed and bullied, and I completely support them in this regard; just as I would if any other ethnic group is being marginalized in Sierra Leone.
“I totally condemn ethnic and religious bullying, and I call on President Koroma to control his minions in APC and tell them to back off and get off Sam Sumana’s back. Then he must totally and unequivocally condemn and dissociate himself from this undemocratic and inflammatory action of his party.
“The only way that President Koroma can put out this fire that his attack dogs have started is to assure us that he is committed to the rule of law, and to tell his party’s apparatchiks to respect the rule of law, and to stoutly condemn tribal animosity in APC or anywhere else in Sierra Leone.
“The buck stops with the President who happens to be the Chairman and Supreme Leader of the APC.
“If he utters just one word to Yansanneh, IB Kargbo, Alpha Khan, Shekito, Bayraytay and the many APC propagandists on his payroll that it is not acceptable to mix tribe, religion, the military, and thuggery in politics, this crisis will go away in minutes, and we can all go back to fighting Ebola and trying to make our country a bastion of the rule of law.
“The long-suffering people of Sierra Leone hold President Ernest Koroma responsible for this atrocious action of his party. It is his responsibility to fix the mess and make it right again.
“We expect nothing short of an address to the nation by the president, dissociating himself from the mess that his party has plunged us into. Mr. President, your fellow Sierra Leoneans are waiting for leadership from you.
“I am no fan of Vice President Sam Sumana. He and I belong to different political parties, but I am a passionate defender of the rule of law.
“We are all Sierra Leoneans, and it makes my blood boil to see any Sierra Leonean being unjustifiably harassed by the powers that be.
“That is why I led students at FBC to protest against APC injustice and undemocratic rule as a young student leader at FBC in 1985, for which I was jailed at Pademba Road prison and expelled from the university.
“If the hounding and harassment of VP Sumana is meant to scare the opposition and make us shake with fear, then APC has badly miscalculated.
“If the intention here is to tell us that APC will use any unconstitutional means to hold on to power, then the backlash and revulsion from all sectors of society should tell them that Sierra Leone will not stand for it.
“Let me make this clear: Despite the transparent acrobatics and shenanigans crouched in the so-called constitutional review, there will be no third term for the president and there will be no coronation of an APC heir apparent.
“I and most patriotic Sierra Leoneans will never accept the notion that our country is the personal property of a family or a party.
“We will have free and fair elections, and we will have ten thousand people watching with smart phones at all polling stations to ensure that the elections are free and fair.
“I believe that SLPP will win the next elections. The rule of law will prevail, and, as President, I will end the arbitrary use of power to intimidate political opponents and focus on building a society of opportunity and responsibility.
“I leave you with the words of Martin Niemoller, a prominent Protestant pastor who spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps:
“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
“Fellow Sierra Leoneans, don’t sleep in the dungeon of silence. Stand up, organise and mobilise for change in Sierra Leone.”
Tonight, Alie Kabba faces the prospect of not only sleeping in the notorious dungeon of Pademba Road Prison for standing up against corruption and poor governance in Sierra Leone, but will likely spend Christmas behind bars as a prisoner of conscience, if the American government does not intervene.
Sierra Leone’s democracy is facing a death warrant, as declaration of a one party state looms.