By Amin Kef (Ranger)
As part of scaling up engagements with various facets of society in the aftermath of the 10 August 2022 violent protests, President Dr. Julius Maada Bio, on the 18th August, 2022, met with the leadership of Civil Society Organizations, the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists and the Sierra Leone Bar Association, SLBA.
The President thanked them for their constructive criticisms of his Government and for their assessments of governance issues, the majority of which, he said, were both negative and positive.
President Bio intimated that despite the various efforts to keep the country and Government in check, as part of the democratic process, his Government had been constantly reminded to walk on the path of a positive trajectory.
He also reminded the gathering of how, collectively as a nation, they had built a positive image of a country that was resilient and one that had championed its own course to development, irrespective of the odds.
“In just a few hours, last week, all that was thrown out of the window by a group of Sierra Leoneans with no leadership, likely because the perpetrators are ashamed of taking responsibility for the act,” he said, adding that despite the ongoing denial, with the assistance of technology, his Government was able to identify those behind the insurrection of August 10 based on their footprint on the cyberspace.
The President said it was against that backdrop that his Government is engaging with various stakeholders and moral guarantors of the nation’s peace, democracy, development and national cohesion, to map out a way forward.
President of the Sierra Leone Bar Association, Ms. Eddinia Michaela Swallow, said the day was sad and terrible after the end of the civil war 20 years ago. She said the successful democratic transfer of power was a positive indicator that demonstrated how civilized we were as a nation. She, however, noted that even though the riot was faceless, it was fuelled by individuals and as lawyers, they look forward to the Government bringing those people to book.
Executive Director of the Centre of Accountability and Rule of Law, Ibrahim Tommy, said: “In a democracy, there is a right for peaceful assembly and peaceful demonstration. But what we saw on August 10 was something else. We believe that those acts of violence must be investigated and those responsible must be brought to justice”.