Kabs Kanu & Abdul Karim Koroma: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 18 September 2023:
Sierra Leoneans from different parts of the continental USA have started converging on New York City in readiness for another massive demonstration against President Maada Bio, on the fringes of the United Nations General Assembly, on Wednesday September 20, 2023.
The demonstration, which is being staged by the CONCERNED SIERRA LEONEANS WORLDWIDE, will be held at the Dag Hammersjold Plaza outside the UN Headquarters in New York.
The protesters will be demonstrating against the rigging of the June 24 elections, the human rights abuses and killings being committed by the Bio SLPP Government, tribalism, rampant corruption, bad governance and the crunching hardship in Sierra Leone, where prices of food and basic commodities have gone beyond the means of citizens.
Madam Melrose Thomas, a member of the Concerned Sierra Leoneans, told COCORIOKO in an interview yesterday that the massive demonstration was necessary to let the world know the atrocities President Bio continues to commit with impunity against Sierra Leoneans , including the needless shedding of innocent blood of people who criticize his tyrannical government. “Bio has killed more Sierra Leoneans than any other president has ever done in the history of Sierra Leone. He is a wicked man, “she fumed.
Musa Sesay, another member of the Concerned Sierra Leoneans, told Cocorioko that, during the demonstration, they will be calling on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to issue an arrest warrant on President Bio for his horrible human rights abuses and killings in Sierra Leone since he came to power in 2018. He said that since Bio came to power, he has plunged the nation in mourning through merciless killings of his opponents.
President Bio has been invited by the ICC for what the international court described as a bilateral dialogue on the fringes of the UNGA tomorrow at the UN but an official of the Sierra Leone Embassy (Who decided not to be named ) has clarified to Cocorioko that Bio’s meeting with the ICC has “nothing whatsoever “ to do with a query on complaints about what was going on in the country, as being claimed by members of the opposition All People’s Congress ( APC ) and Sierra Leoneans, including human rights activists.
“Bio will be going there in Sierra Leone’s capacity as a Non- Permanent Member of the UN to discuss how to strengthen bilateral relations between the country and the ICC,” the diplomat explained to Cocorioko.
With regards to the planned demonstration on Wednesday, the official said the the protests are going to be countered by the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) but he failed to elaborate how.
Meanwhile, the CONCERNED SIERRA LEONEANS have belittled allegations being peddled by the SLPP in North America that Wednesday’s demonstrations were the handiwork of the opposition APC.
Wuyata Massaquoi, who claimed to be a member of the National Grand Coalition (NGC), after leaving the SLPP, said that the demonstrators cut across all political parties and civil society organizations.
“Is it only APC supporters that are suffering in Sierra Leone? She asked. “In fact, cost of living is more expensive in the Southeast, which is believed to be the stronghold of the SLPPP, than the Northwest”, she disclosed. “Only a fool will not come out and demonstrate against this useless president who is making everybody suffer in the country.“
Madam Wuyata Massaquoi told Cocorioko that a bag of rice and other food commodities are more expensive in the Southeast because of the addition of costs of transportation and that President Bio is doing nothing to alleviate the suffering of the people.
“Only the president’s immediate families, his girlfriends and cronies are enjoying the government, “she complained. “Maada Bio has disappointed even the people in the Southeast who voted for him and so some of us have joined the demonstration to make the president know that even South Easterners have lost confidence in his leadership.“
“This is a national demonstration, “ Abdul Kassim Sesay, talking on the phone from the U.K, from where he will be flying tomorrow to join the demonstration , said. “We have APC, SLPP, NGC, PMDC, ADP members, southerners, Easterners, Northerners and Westerners in the Concerned Sierra Leoneans. Everybody is fed up with Maada Bio, “ he emphasized , using some invectives that we cannot publish to describe President Bio.
The Ambassador of Sierra Leone to the U.S, Mr. Sidique Wai, did not return calls and the Embassy official who spoke anonymously to Cocorioko claimed that “the ambassador is busy with President Bio right now,“ but he was not in any position to say whether Ambassador Wai is aware of Wednesday’s huge demonstration against the President.
It must be recalled that during the 2018 demonstration at the same UN, Ambassador Wai materialized to convince protesters to abandon their plans to embarrass the president but he was booed by the mammoth crowd and led away by a U.S police officer and since then he has not tried to interfere with demonstrations.
Because of the huge crowd expected on Wednesday and the inadequate parking facilities inside New York, demonstrators will be parking all the way at Staten Island and taking the ferry to the city to be able to participate in the protests.
Some concerned Sierra Leonean women have also volunteered to provide food and refreshments on Wednesday for the demonstrators.
Busloads of members of the Concerned Sierra Leoneans have already taken off from U.S cities across America to be able to be present on time in New York on Wednesday to protest against Maada Bio.
“This is a big demonstration,“ Tejan King of Maryland, told Cocorioko . “We are going to shake the UN again on Wednesday. “