Sierra Leone Telegraph: 12 April 2015
Thousands of Sierra Leoneans yesterday 11th April 2015, gathered at the White House Lafayette Park in Washington DC, to protest the unconstitutional actions of president Koroma. (Photo: Mrs. Philomena Yumkella – centre, at the rally yesterday).
The unconstitutional sacking of the elected vice president over a month ago has deeply divided the nation.
The country’s Supreme Court started sitting last Thursday to decide whether the president’s action is constitutional or not. Sierra Leoneans both at home and abroad have little faith in the country’s judicial system.
Many Sierra Leoneans believe that the judges involved in the case have been personally appointed by the president, whose unconstitutional action, they are now adjudicating upon.
Yesterday’s rally in Washington DC, though met with a counter protest by pro – government supporters, sent a loud and clear message to the White House in particular, that the people of Sierra Leone are no longer prepared to accept dictatorship and human rights abuse. (Photo: Pro-government protesters – courtesy of Cocorioko News).
Last week, Sierra Leone’s presidential hopeful – Dr Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella (Photo), told the Sierra Leone Telegraph that the right to march in protest at government policy or presidential behaviour is a constitutional and human right, which must be protected and defended by all Sierra Leoneans.
It was no surprise therefore that Mrs. Philomena Yumkella, the wife of Kandeh, was among the thousands who peacefully demonstrated in Washington yesterday.
Protesters were also calling for those responsible for misappropriating Ebola funds to be held fully accountable.
So far, the country’s parliamentarians who many accuse of usurping the powers of the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission and the police, have been unable to ensure that those bearing the greatest responsibility for the theft of $14 million of Ebola funds are brought to justice.
Yesterday’s march in Washington, was also aimed at conveying a message of solidarity with and support for the millions in Sierra Leone that are afraid to come out to assert their right to protest. They are in fear of police brutality and politically motivated reprisals, which could include losing their jobs.
Those who marched in Washington yesterday, are now expecting President Obama to ensure that president Koroma and his government are not rewarded for bad behaviour and poor governance.
Ebola may be at the top of the agenda, but so too must the issue of poor governance, corruption and dictatorial leadership.