By George English – 16th August 2019
In the small West African country of Sierra Leone, two main political parties, the All People’s Congress (APC) party and the Sierra Leone Peoples Party have dominated the politics of the country ever since after the country attained independence from the British in 1961,although currently there is in existence other political parties. After every five years, as the country’s constitution stipulates, there is bound to be the conduct of Presidential and Parliamentary elections by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) availing eligible citizens the opportunity to exercise their franchise and vote for candidates of their choice.
Lamentably, electioneering periods in this part of the world have never been smooth and rosy as they had been fraught with violence, most times along ethnic lines, perpetrated by supporters of both the dominant APC party and SLPP. There had been reported cases of electoral malpractices, intimidation and political harassment. Individuals have been murdered and even jailed in the aftermath of Presidential and Parliamentary elections when new Governments are formed.
During the 2018 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections there was a swift twist in the political landscape when the incumbent ruling APC Government, headed by erstwhile President Ernest Bai Koroma was defeated by the then SLPP, with its presidential candidate, Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio succeeding in becoming the country’s new President with a five year tenure in office.
Upon the SLPP assuming political power, most of its irate supporters started to violently hound recognized or earmarked APC supporters, killing some and in some cases inflicting serious bodily injuries on others. This worsening and ugly situation naturally forced and is still forcing many APC supporters into self-exile out of fear that their lives were and are at serious stake.
Added to that the SLPP Bio led Government, immediately it assumed power, set up a Transition Team to look into the activities of past APC Government officials within the context of conducting investigations to know whether those officials were really acting in the best interest of the country when they were in State Governance.
In the wake of the Transition Team Report three Commissions of Inquiry were set up to investigate certain past APC officials referred to as “Persons of Interest” for alleged corruption and among those that were named is former President Ernest Bai Koroma of the APC. The President first appeared before one of the Commissions on the 16thAugust, 2019 and he is currently attending court proceedings for alleged corrupt practices being represented by a battery of lawyers headed by Lawyer Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara, the country’s one time Attorney General and Minister of Justice.
Political reprisals continue to rise unabated as intimidation and attacks keep soaring. The lives of perceived APC supporters, especially those who have been identified as staunch supporters are not safe according to revelations from an undercover and sustained investigation mounted by this medium.
“Many are now afraid to go about their activities peacefully as they are persistently threatened by SLPP supporters which is not good in any vibrant political dispensation,” Ambassador Foday Yansanneh, APC party National Secretary General informed this Press going further to intimate that despite several complaints made to the country’s Police Force no tangible actions have been instituted to stem the tide of political reprisals or revenge.
“What I am seeing going on in Sierra Leone is not healthy for political interaction and growth as political violence is stifling good political discourse,” a foreign diplomat expressed dismay suggesting that the political heads of the APC and SLPP must try their level best to restrain political attacks.