Sierra Leone Telegraph: 16 March 2015
The political circus created by president Koroma and his cabal in the ruling party, forcing the vice president to flee for his life last Saturday, may have gone into recess, but is not certainly over just yet. The puppet show continues.
Yesterday, the moribund vice president Sam Sumana, who is in hiding from the president’s armed personal militia, told the BBC that he was willing to retract his request for asylum made on Saturday to the American embassy, if he is allowed to return safely to his home in Freetown, as well as the reinstatement of his personal security staff.
Former SLPP vice president of Sierra Leone – Solomon Berewa, also told the BBC that he was negotiating the resignation of Sam Sumana from the vice presidency, on behalf of president Koroma, but Sam Sumana had rejected that offer.
The vice president, along with 26 of his close protection team had been on a twenty one -day self-imposed quarantine, following the death of one of his bodyguards from Ebola three weeks ago.
Yet, they became target practice for president Koroma’s heavily armed snatch squad, who vandalised the home of the vice president, disarmed his security team and took them away, in the early hours of last Saturday.
It is not thought that the vice president himself and other members of his security had contracted the virus, through contact with the deceased bodyguard. Hence many in Sierra Leone were quite surprised at his decision to take a wise and safe precaution, uncharacteristic of those in power – including the president himself.
But it seems the vice president had unwittingly created a rod for his own back, by going into self-imposed quarantine – or as many are now saying – self-imposed house arrest, which the president and his cabal have now exploited to their own political advantage.
The net result and impact on the country’s political stability and democratic foundation are now being felt across the nation and abroad, as the political drama unfolds, burying the awful news of Ebola making a deadly comeback in Freetown and the north.
This State House engineered political circus, of which Sam Sumana himself is beginning to be regarded as a co-choreographer – along with the president, has sadly buried the furore caused by the Auditor General’s report into the millions of dollars, misappropriated by officials managing the Ebola funds.
Fourteen million dollars of funds meant for the caring of dying Ebola patients, remains unaccounted for by president Koroma.
In the meantime, his politically engineered circus is providing a convenient and surreptitious cover to a group of parliamentarians, sitting in a self-serving court in parliament where they are acting as prosecutor, judge and jury, in a showcase trial of those accused in the report – a disgraceful perversion of the country’s criminal justice system.
Condemnation of the president and his cabal in the ruling party, which comes not in support of the vice president, but the rule of law, has been swift.
“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.