Sierra Leone Telegraph: 23 July 2018:
Sierra Leone’s main opposition political party – the All People’s Congress (APC) will be holding a press conference at its headquarters in Freetown today, to discuss its response to the SLPP government’s published report on its first one hundred days in office, as well as to condemn the recent spate of what the party describes as political violence and police heavy handedness.
Since taking over power in April 2018, after winning the presidential election but failed to win parliamentary majority, there has been an uneasy truce between the SLPP led government of Julius Maada Bio and the defeated – now opposition APC.
Supporters of the APC are accusing the SLPP government and party of muzzling freedom of speech and right to protest, with the help of the police.
Yesterday there were reports that an opposition politician – Mohamed Kamaraimba (Photo), had been arrested by the police, following comments he is thought to have made on radio, criticising president Bio and his government for the implementation of policies many describe as inimical to the country’s liberal democracy.
But the police have denied the report, saying that Mr Kamaraimba was not arrested but invited for interview at the CID.
In response to accusations of political intimidation and stifling of democratic freedoms, a senior ruling SLPP party official told the Sierra Leone Telegraph that “the opposition APC are determined to cripple and bring down the SLPP government. They are refusing to accept defeat at the polls”.
In a press statement issued yesterday this is what Cornelius Deveaux – the National Publicity Secretary of the opposition APC said:
“The All Peoples Congress is inviting the media, civil society organizations and the diplomatic corps to a Press Conference, commencing at 15:00 hours, tomorrow Monday July 23, 2018, at the party HQ, Old Railway Line, Brookfield, Freetown, to present the party’s independent assessment of the first 100 days of the ruling SLPP government of President Julius Maada Bio.
“Furthermore, reports reaching the All Peoples Congress (APC) indicate that the Sierra Leone Police today Sunday July 22, 2018 attempted to arrest opposition politician, Mohamed Kamaraimba Mansaray, at his residence without a warrant.
“The APC condemns this action of the Police and considers such, including the brutal stabbing of an APC supporter resident at Government Wharf, a continuation of the spate of violence and intimidation meted against opposition parties and their supporters following the controversial election of Julius Maada Bio of the SLPP as president of Sierra Leone in April 2018.”
However, the Sierra Leone police are condemning what they see as the increasing use of the media especially by politicians, in making public statements that are likely to cause political instability. They too have today issued a strongly worded statement warning citizens about the consequences. This is what Inspector General Dr Moigbe (Photo above) says:
Reactions to the police statement has been swift. This is what Abdul Malik Bangura – a member of the APC, said:
“I have read with total disgust, a press release from the Inspector General of the Sierra Leone Police, claiming that the Police now monitor activities of the media in the country.
“To me, this is disrespectful to our democratic credentials as a country. How can police monitor the media in Sierra Leone?? This is completely nonsense!! The Inspector General must immediately withdraw that statement as it is never the mandate of the police to monitor our media.
“The institution in Sierra Leone that is charged with the responsibility to monitor our media is the Independent Media Commission, which is soundly setup by an act of Parliament.
“Whilst I had raised this issue of government dissolving the Board of our own Independent Media Commission (IMC) without any immediate replacement, I also want to frankly say that the police has no mandate to monitor the media in Sierra Leone if a case is not referred to it for investigation.
“However, if President Bio has now decided to run a government for 3 weeks now without a functional IMC, we must also tell the President that with all due respect our media in Sierra Leone cannot be regulated by the Police. Fix the IMC and let us be in peace.”
Some civil society groups are also expressing alarm at the deteriorating political climate and spate of attacks on civil liberty in Sierra Leone. This is a statement by the Institute for Good Governance: