The National Grand Coalition Party (NGC) in a press release has lamented the events that took place on Friday 31 May 2019, which the NGC sees as symptomatic of a broken political system in urgent need of repair.
In the press release the NGC said: First, we condemn the judicial delays that have resulted in 10 rulings on elections petitions pertaining to the March 2018 vote for members of parliament. Why have we had to wait 14 months for these rulings? And why are some matters still outstanding? We remind the judiciary that justice delayed is justice denied. Such delayed justice has ethical and practical considerations, especially in the context of our lawmakers in Parliament, which is why it is always preferable to resolve these matters quickly.
According to the press release, the NGC further stated that: Second, we condemn the selective justice apparently at play in Sierra Leone today. Why is it that petitions predominantly of concern to members of the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) have been resolved while matters of concern to other political parties, in this case the All People’s Congress (APC), have not even been listed for hearing? Why is it that petition cases brought by members of the NGC, and similar to those upheld on Friday 31 May, were dismissed by the judge without lawyers acting for NGC being allowed to present their cases. We recall with horror the violence visited upon our supporters in Tonko Limba, Kambia, Mile 91 and parts of the Western Area, to give just a few examples. Not only must justice be done, it must be seen to be done. We recall that rampant injustice was one of the main factors identified by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) as a cause of the civil war this country was subjected to not so long ago.
The release added: Third, we condemn the excessive use of force by the Sierra Leone Police, including firing teargas canisters directly into the APC headquarters in Brookfields, as reported by Umaru Fofana on the BBC Focus on Africa and relayed live by AYV Television. State security forces have a duty to maintain internal security and law and order but they must do so humanely, respecting the human rights of the public at large. In 2018 Amnesty International produced a report documenting 10 years of use of excessive force by police to disperse spontaneous protests, with at least nine protesters killed and over 80 injured. Friday’s display of force was a frightening continuation of this practice, which in fact dates back to the pre-independence era under colonial rule.
The release went further to state that the SLP force directed at APC HQ was reminiscent of similar excessive police force used to quell SLPP supporters at their party HQ in 2007, 2008, and 2009. We again condemn this apparent tit for tat, “do me, ar do you” pattern of reprisals. An eye for an eye will leave us all blind. Now is the time to strengthen our state institutions and separate them from partisan political interests and break this vicious cycle of repression and violence.
The NGC release added: Fourth, we repeat our call for the resignation or removal of the Chief Electoral Commissioner, N’fa Alie Conteh, or the conduct of a Judicial enquiry into the Tonko Limba bye elections. Had NEC done its job properly during the elections in 2018 and vetted contestants properly and assessed the levels of violence in the run-up to and during polling, these petitioners would not have had recourse to use the courts. Instead, over a year after elections, decisions by two judges have altered the fundamental makeup of Parliament and precipitated a full-blown crisis. We must remember that Sierra Leone remains a fragile state: we cannot afford to take our peace and national cohesion for granted.