Sierra Leoneans Must Denounce Hate Speech & Proliferation of Inciting Bigotry

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Amin Kef Sesay

An Op-Ed By Amin Kef Sesay

To start with, I denounce Hate Speech and any form of bigotry in Sierra Leone. Military coup d’états, which were in vogue in the immediate post-colonial period in West Africa, were long relegated to the dustbin of history. Forceful removal of Governments became old fashioned.

In its wake, what most came to embrace were democratic principles, one which entails the holding of periodic fair and free elections as dictated by national constitutions for any change of Government. Here in Sierra Leone it is after every five years.

The International Community, sub-regional and regional bodies like the United Nations, ECOWAS and the African Union are all frowning on regime change through coup d’états which is why those institutions always strongly condemn the illegal removal of any constitutionally elected Government followed by their imposition of various forms of stiff sanctions to force the coupists to immediately pave the way for a democratic transition of power to a civilian Government.

Against this seemingly blissful scenario that has permeated West African countries for a considerable period of time now, it is rather unfortunate that recently there was a coup d’état in the West African Republic of Mali when the military, led by Assimi Goita, toppled the Government headed by erstwhile President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

Although the International Community and sub-regional groups, one of which is the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS), have condemned the coup, however, it was heartily welcomed by the majority of Malians who had earlier on called for the resignation of Keita for alleged corruption and the worsening security situation in some parts of the country where sympathizers of Al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS) have been causing a lot of havoc.

To a large extent, it can be safely said the Malian coup is a popular one with no bloodbath in its wake.

During the 1960s when coup d’états were the order of the day in West Africa it really appeared as if it was naturally contagious like a common cold. When one country sneezes, (has a coup), another catches cold (follow suit).

With all amount of certainty, it is this anachronistic mentality which seems to be running like a thread in various social media posts by some Sierra Leoneans, in and out of the country, portending that Sierra Leone is going to be next in terms of the military overthrowing the constitutionally elected Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) led Government headed by President Julius Maada Bio.

Lamentably, these evil minded so called Sierra Leoneans are cowardly trying to incite the citizenry of this country, mainly the military, to forcefully overthrow the SLPP led Government in order to effect a change of Government. There are audio messages making the round on different social media platforms defaming the Government and disingenuously calling for some form of insurrection.

Although it may be said that these few evil-wishers could have a hidden political agenda, however, the leadership of the main opposition All Peoples Congress (APC) Party has categorically distanced itself from making any utterance, statement or move indicative of wishing for or plotting the illegal and forceful transition of Government.

It must be underscored at this juncture that the political and economic situations in Mali prior to the coup and those in Sierra Leone are comparatively not the same. The Malian Government, under President Keita, was one that had become so unpopular to such an extent that it was evident that the stability of the country was fragile and as President he was not firmly in charge of the country as the economy had really gone bananas, hardship galloped, corruption rampant with an ongoing Islamist insurgence in some part of the country that seriously undermined national cohesion.

With this abysmal status quo, it was just a matter of time for the military to easily topple the Government as it did. As a matter of fact those are some of the reasons that have been stated by the military junta as a justification to govern the country for three years before handing it over to a constitutionally elected Government.

From a thorough analysis of the current Sierra Leonean political dispensation as well as empirical evidences so far observed, comparatively, this country does not seem to have a paranoid and weak political administration, worsening economic situation that could trigger the military to leave their barracks in order to forcefully overthrow the sitting SLPP Government.

This assertion should not be mistaken as if the picture is been painted that this country is a Utopia. It is understandable that the main opposition APC party may have its political reservations or wounds that it maybe nursing. They may complain about political marginalization, deprivation from holding sensitive positions and all the rest of it.

Again, it is not insinuated that economically things are rosy as in reality the prices of basic commodities have skyrocketed and the cost of living is really high.

However, it could be a fallacy of hasty generalization to squarely blame the ruling Government for completely or unilaterally messing up the country’s economy as fingers could be pointed at certain quarters for the debilitating economy.

But unlike Mali, we have seen conscious demonstrations on the part of the country’s Anti – Corruption Commission (ACC) under the watch of Commissioner, Francis Ben Kaifala, in robustly combating corruption in high and low places with results that are very encouraging. The point that is been made here is that there is no evidential discernible widespread discontent that is triggered by the frustration of rampant corruption.

Taking the conversation to another level, as far as it is noticeable at this material time, the morale of the country’s security personnel, the Police and Military, is high probably based on the fact that they are getting the right treatments they deserve. By this it is meant their salaries and other benefits are paid on time, promotions are given were they are due, not predicated on ethnic lines, necessary logistics made available etc.

When all these are taken into consideration it can be stated that at this moment there is no sort of noticeable form of disillusionment among rank and file of the “Khaki Boys” that could warrant or be seen as a pointer to the staging of any form of overthrowing the elected or legally constituted ruling SLPP Government.

Indeed, one of the highest forms of treachery is for a citizen to advocate for the unconstitutional transfer of power through a military coup style as it is now seen to be done by some Sierra Leoneans who are painstakingly fanning such a flame through social media posts.

Democracy calls for a peaceful transition of power. It therefore behoves all and sundry to use democratic channels to vent out grievances and discontent. Anything short of that is tantamount to treason of which any perpetrator could face the full force of the law.

Sierra Leoneans have tasted the bitterness of over a decade senseless war that brought about wanton destruction of lives and property. We do not want to see a repetition of same.

The vast majority of Malians were eager for a regime change, although it cannot be vouchsafed whether they wanted such through the barrel of the gun were as in Sierra Leone there is no discernible longing on the part of the masses that they are yearning for a transition of political power through unconstitutional means.

It is high time for the detractors to desist from wishing doom for this country but rather admonished to constructively criticize the shortcomings and failings of the ruling Government in order for meaningful political, economic and social changes to take place that will positively impact the entire nation. There is no place for a   military coup in Sierra Leone. Lonta!

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