President Bio Assures Taking Affirmative Action against Insurrectionists

Consoling & Giving Hope…

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His Excellency, Dr. Julius Maada Bio

By Amin Kef (Ranger)

In the wake of the events of the violent and bloody insurrection of 10th August, 2022, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, His Excellency, Dr. Julius Maada Bio, in an address to the nation on the 12th August, 2022, stated that he is greeting all with a heavy heart, asking all to mourn for and pray to God/Allah Almighty to grant eternal peace to the country’s Police Officers and other citizens who were violently murdered on the 10th of August, 2022.

The President underscored that on that day, the peace, security, and stability of the nation was shattered by persons whose insurrection was pre-meditated, well-planned, financed, and executed with shocking brutality.

He pointed out that before August 10, the insurrectionists had severally identified themselves on social media as APC Warriors, PPP, and persons who are determined to capture political power even at the cost of hundreds of lives.

President Bio told the nation that for some time now also, some politicians have been raising tensions with divisive language and threats to make the country ungovernable furthering how their known surrogates and associates have stated that they will continue to illegally use violence to unseat the democratically elected Government maintaining how the events of August 10 were a clear statement of their collective intent.

He stated that the Constitution and laws of the Republic not only guarantee the right to free speech and peaceful protest, but they also provide applicable restrictions arguing that as in all democracies, the right to peaceful protest should be exercised by identifiable persons, and it should not threaten public safety and peace.

“The right to protest should not be expressed as a right to violently murder police officers, burn down Police Stations, and disturb the peace of our country,” President Bio stated adding that clearly it was not a peaceful protest.

He also asserted that it was also not a nationwide protest as the unrest occurred only in some parts of Makeni, Binkolo, Magburaka, Kamakwie, Lungi, Western Rural, Eastern Freetown, and towards PZ in Freetown underscoring how there were no protests in all other parts of the country including large parts of Freetown.

The First Gentleman intimated that it was not a protest against the high cost of living occasioned by the ongoing global economic crisis as the chant of the insurrectionists was for a violent overthrow of the democratically-elected Government with the killings and destruction targeting Police officers and public and private property associated with the Government.

“Theirs was not a protest about measures undertaken by the Government to handle the challenges brought on by the global economic crisis,” he said in strong terms.

The President reminded the nation that since COVID-19 struck, Government has undertaken specific economic recovery and resilience measures that have kept essential food items and fuel on the market, kept businesses running, and maintained public services.

He said, in fact, Government reduced fuel and transportation prices twice in the last month in addition to other social safety payments and cash transfers to poor and vulnerable populations and microfinance loans to women and youth.

President Bio informed how Government is expanding skills development and vocation educational opportunities and creating jobs in various sectors of the economy especially in mining in the northern province, and small-scale manufacturing in other parts of the country.

He said the Government has also undertaken large-scale efforts towards food security and kept its free quality school education and healthcare priorities on course.

“This insurrection, which was executed by clearly identified partisans using the cover of follow-on crowds including children, was characterized by targeted killings, wanton looting, and destruction of property,” he said reiterating how it was not a peaceful cost-of-living protest but was simply an attack on the peace and security, an attack on the rule of law, and an attack on democracy.

He said in addition to their overarching objective, the attacks were meant to violently disrupt the daily and normal activities and lives of ordinary Sierra Leoneans and to the international community, it was meant to present Sierra Leone as a place where law and order had completely broken down.

President Bio stated how Government will not sit idly by for such persons to disturb the peace of the nation and derail the gains they are making in the nation.

He said the full force of the law will be brought to bear on all those persons who attacked and killed police officers stressing how they, their sponsors, and their collaborators will not go unpunished maintaining that

a full investigation done into the deaths of ordinary citizens who lost their lives in the senseless violence incited by the known persons.

He intimated that in the coming weeks and months, Government will undertake necessary security actions meant to guarantee the peace and security of all citizens adding that while those may cause some unavoidable inconveniences, Government’s actions will guarantee all constitutional rights and freedoms of peaceful citizens.

The President said the security forces will and must act with great restraint and within their professional codes of service but was quick to give assurance that his Government will crack down hard on violent insurrectionists, their collaborators, their sponsors, and their supporters.

“My Government will relentlessly fight those who would rather use terror and gruesome violence to achieve political goals,” he stated with determination.

He stated that as President, he is urging every peace-loving Sierra Leonean to be mindful that national unity, peace, and stability are essential for the survival of the nation urging all to continue to respect all the laws of Sierra Leone and remain law abiding.

He said just over twenty years ago, we turned our backs on using violence to resolve differences saying we have since made great progress to consolidate democracy adding how his Government has made every effort to open up spaces for dialogue and peace informing that Bintumani 3 was meant to bring all parties together to forge a pathway to peace and national cohesion.

President Bio said since then, they have established the National Commission for Peace and National Cohesion, removed the obnoxious seditious libel laws and that Sierra Leone has made great improvements in global press freedom rankings.

He said no journalist is in prison for the practice of journalism, how there are no political prisoners and Government has abolished the death penalty.

The President mentioned that there are traditional and community leaders, youth and community groups through which citizens can freely express their views informing that his Government has maintained open dialogue with civil society organizations and international partners.

He said Government also assures the right to peaceful protest as long as groups and their leaderships identify themselves and work within the existing laws of Sierra Leone adding that peaceful protesters will be fully protected by law enforcement officials.

President Bio said his Government has further undertaken progressive reforms to guarantee fundamental constitutional rights and freedoms, create opportunity, and ensure gender empowerment and equality.

He added that the dates for democratic elections have been announced over a year in advance and political parties are free to organize peacefully and present policies to citizens of the country.

President Bio concluded by expressing deep condolences to bereaved families assuring to fully investigate all deaths as a result of the violent insurrection revealing that as a Government, they will honour the Police Officers who were murdered with a civic funeral in respect of their service to the nation maintaining that their deaths shall not be in vain stressing how they will bring their killers and all those responsible for their deaths to justice.

 

 

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