Sierra Leone Telegraph: 3 June 2017
Condemnation of the Koroma government is growing after the arrest two days ago, of the opposition Alliance Democratic Party leader – Mr Mohamed Kamarainba Mansaray on allegation of possessing an offensive weapon – a stun gun.
Supporters of the opposition leader say that the arrest is politically motivated, and an attempt by the ruling APC party to subvert the will of the people ahead of general and presidential elections early next year.
Mr Mansaray’s ADP is growing in popularity, especially in the ruling party’s northern heartland, where they are expected to make significant gains and likely to cut the APC’s overall majority.
The ruling APC will need to maintain it’s more than 80% electoral votes won in the last two successive general elections in the north, if it is to return to power after elections on the 7th of March 2018.
Critics say that it is this anxious reality that is now causing the ruling APC to become ratty and adopting a venomous attacking strategy against the opposition ADP.
The country’s main opposition SLPP is also strongly condemning yesterday’s arrest, which it describes as politically motivated. It is calling for Mr Mansaray to be released unconditionally and for the ruling APC to desist from instigating all forms of political intimidation against opposition politicians.
This is what the National Secretary-General of the SLPP – Ali Badara Kamara said in a statement today:
“The Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) has been informed of the arrest of the Leader of the Alliance Democratic Party (ADP), Mr. Mohamed Kamarainba Mansaray on allegation of illegal possession of stun gun.
“The SLPP is also informed that the said stun gun was found with Mr. Mansaray during the bye-election in Ward 025, Segbwema, Kailahun District on May 27, 2017.
“The SLPP is most concern that the APC has again resumed its crude practice of attacks and threats to opposition party members as we approach the 2018 elections.
“In particular, Mr. Mansaray and other ADP members have been attacked by the APC even in the presence of the Sierra Leone Police.
“Recently, Mr. Mohamed Kamarainba Mansaray and members of the ADP were attacked in Lunsar during the bye-election in Constituency 50 and in Makeni during the Local Council bye-election in Ward 089. The APC government has now instructed the arrest of Mr. Mansaray for allegations of possessing weapon.
“The fact that the arrest was not effected during the bye-election when the stun gun was found, but nearly a week after the election indicates that it was politically motivated.
“The SLPP shares the position of Mr. Mansaray that the stun gun is less lethal and used in self defence, particularly so when there have been several attempts to harm him.
“The SLPP strongly condemns this act of political intimidation which is becoming a pattern for the APC. It is definitely an attempt by the APC to cow Mr. Mansaray into submission.
“The party calls on the Government to unconditionally release the ADP Leader, Mr. Mohamed Kamarainba Mansaray who was defending himself against attacks by Mr. Robin Falley and his APC hoodlums.
“Also, the party demands that the ADP and all other political parties are provided free space to play their role in advancing our democracy.
“The SLPP further wishes to inform the public that such attacks and allegations of possessing firearms by opposition party members as well as poor public policies – such as the toll road on Wellington-Masiaka Road, are all parts of the APC ploy to provoke public anger and possible public demonstration which they intend to use as an alibi for the extension of the life of the Presidency.
“Once again, the Party would like to reiterate its position that it will not accept any reason for conducting elections beyond March 7, 2018, and advise the President and the APC to respect the democratic timetable.
“Additionally, the SLPP calls on its membership to stand by the ADP Leader, Mr. Kamarainba Mansaray as he faces brutality from the APC. In particular, the SLPP encourages its lawyers to support the legal team of Mr. Mansaray in defending his rights for freedom.
“Finally, the Party calls on the Civil Society Organisations and development partners who are moral guarantors of our democracy to join the SLPP in its call for unconditional release of the ADP Leader, and advise the government against attacks and trumped up charges against opposition leaders and party members.”
Meanwhile, Mr Mansaray appeared in court yesterday – Friday, 2nd June, 2017, to answer charges for the unlawful possession of small arms; unlawful possession of small arms without lawful authority; and carrying an offensive weapon.
Mr Mansaray pleaded not guilty to all charges and was refused bail request tabled by his Lawyer Bangura. The case will be heard in Segbwema on the 7th of July, 2017.
What is clear is that Mr. Mansaray will not now be able to exercise his democratic right to freely promote his party’s policies, until after the case has been concluded, which by Sierra Leone’s standards could take up to a year.