Sierra Leone Telegraph: 3 June 2019:
Sierra Leone’s opposition All People’s Congress (APC) party has broken silence, after violence broke out between its supporters and police at its head office in Freetown last Friday, leaving several people seriously injured and dozens arrested.
In a statement published today, the party said: “We wish to make it known that our patience should never be interpreted as a sign of weakness. We are therefore weighing all our options carefully, as we look forward to appropriate remedial action by President Bio and the SLPP leadership.
“In the meantime, we call on all members and supporters of the APC to remain calm and law-abiding as they await further instructions from the APC Party leadership.”
But even as its statement is being digested, there are reports of the arrest of the APC party MP – Mohamed Bangura in relation to the violence that took place at the party office (Photo above).
Also, it is understood that the party’s publicity secretary – Cornelius Deveaux is on the run, after escaping police arrest last Friday, outside the APC party office. There are unconfirmed reports that he is seeking asylum in the US embassy in Freetown.
This is what the APC party said in its statement published today:
The APC Party wishes to bring to the attention of the general public and the international community the unconstitutional activity of the SLPP against the APC Party and the unprovoked brutalization of our members within the precincts of our Party headquarters on Friday 31st May 2019 after unconstitutional and unlawful attempts to remove from Parliament 10 of our democratically and constitutionally elected Members of Parliament.
The APC Party condemns this ill motivated and brutal assault on the party office and defenceless members. The Party unequivocally rejects the judgments against the APC Members of Parliament on the grounds that it is unconstitutional and politically designed to give the SLPP an undeserved majority in Parliament contrary to the wishes of the electorates in Sierra Leone.
The party also condemns the swearing in of the SLPP MP’s contrary to the provisions of the Public Elections Act Section 146(1-4) of 2012. Section 146(4) specifically states that “if the election is declared void, another election shall be held”.
The party finds it strange therefore that the illegitimate and controversially selected Speaker of Parliament rushed into swearing in the SLPP impostors without regard to due process and the rule of law.
The APC Party condemns the unlawful arrest and detention of 250 members of our political party on Friday 31st May 2019, and demand their immediate and unconditional release.
Members of the international community and development partners would recall the following:
a. That there are currently 18 cases in front of the Supreme Court seeking interpretation of relevant provisions of the 1991 Constitution relating to the Commissions of Inquiry and the conduct of the 2018 elections. At least one of these cases was filed by the Sierra Leone Bar Association.
b. The APC party also petitioned 32 current SLPP Members of Parliament and, fourteen months on, none of these petitions has even been listed or assigned to a Judge by the Chief Justice.
c. The two separate petitions by the APC Party on the one hand, and Dr Sylvia Olayinka Blyden have not received due attention by the Supreme Court.
d. The Chief Justice has also failed to list the two separate cases filed by the APC Party on one hand, and Dr. Samura Kamara and Mr. Paolo Conteh on behalf of persons of interest requesting interpretation of Article 150 of the 1991 Constitution among others.
e. The failure of the SLPP government to even give a fair hearing to the reported killings, arson, rape and torture of defenceless APC supporters across the country following the March/April 2018 elections.
f. The unconstitutional enthronement of the Speaker and the forceful ejection of APC MPs from the Well of Parliament by the Sierra Leone Police.
g. The failure of President Julius Maada Bio to take appropriate action against the Chairman of the National Electoral Commission for his blatant display of incompetence and wilful rigging of elections as exemplified in the recent Tonko Limba and Koya bye elections.
h. Contrary to statutory provisions, the SLPP government has refused to honour and pay end of service emoluments and pensions due to retiring Presidents, Vice Presidents, Ministers, and Ambassadors, and even other public officials that were unlawfully removed from office after the March 2018 elections.
i. The unprecedented sackings of innocent Sierra Leoneans because of their alleged affinity to the APC party, with the most recent being the sacking of 257 staff at Statistics Sierra Leone and over 100 staff at the National Civil Registration Authority, and the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration.
j. Regrettably, the Chief Minister (Mr. David Francis) has been caught on tape assuring SLPP faithful in their Party office in Kenema that part of the SLPP agenda is to create job openings that will be filled by SLPP supporters when President Bio formally lifts the current ban on employment.
The APC Party regrets to state that these actions by the SLPP government using the Sierra Leone Police and Kamajors disguised as Policemen to unleash unwarranted savagery on defenceless APC supporters and office premises, undermines the peace and security of the country and risks plunging the country into civil and tribal/regional conflict.
Even more regrettable is the fact that the Judiciary is complicit in this dastardly act that infringes upon the fundamental human rights and dignity of defenceless Sierra Leoneans. This, coupled with the undemocratic usurpation of the Speakership in Parliament by the SLPP government, would only confirm that separation of powers and the basic tenets of democracy and the rule of law have crumbled in this nation.
The APC Party has exercised the highest level of restraint through all these periods of unwarranted provocation and exploitation. We wish to make it known that our patience should never be interpreted as a sign of weakness.
We are therefore weighing all our options carefully, as we look forward to appropriate remedial action by President Bio and the SLPP leadership.
In the meantime, we call on all members and supporters of the APC to remain calm and law-abiding as they await further instructions from the APC Party leadership. Be assured my comrades that in the struggles of the APC Party, there is victory for all of us. The SUN will rise again, and Sierra Leone will prosper.
SIGNED: Alhaji Amb. Dr. Osman Foday Yansaneh, APC National Secretary General.