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NEWS : Local News  

SRSG visits Vandalized SLPP Headquarters in Sierra Leone
By B. Bundu & Aruna Turay
Mar 23, 2009, 10:09
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The Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations, His Excellency Michael Schulenburg, Friday 20th March 2009, paid an assessment visit to the vandalized opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) headquarters in Freetown.

John Benjamin & Ambassador Schulenburg have a grim look on faces

The visit came after a group of thugs believed to be associated with the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC), ransacked the building and caused a number of atrocities including the comprehensive looting of properties, raping of female party supporters and occasioning bodily harm on scores of stalwarts.

On arrival at the scene, the SRSG was taken on a conducted tour of the severely damaged building by the newly elected Chairman of the party, John Oponjo Benjamin and Secretary General Jacob Jusu Saffa, including other members of the party.

Schlenburg cracks a joke with SLPP Starlwarts

In a snap press interview that followed, Mr. Schulenburg informed that the purpose of his visit was to assess the damage caused on a first hand basis.

He said the visit was also aimed at creating room for him to engage both political parties in individual discussions.

After having a thorough assessment of the destruction to the building, the SRSG pronounced that the act is totally unacceptable and not good for a country like Sierra Leone that is just creeping from a decade long rebel war.

The SRSG hastened to note that there is an urgent need for all stakeholders to the countrys development to busy themselves around issues of socio-economic recovery, rather than engaging in acts that will only reverse the gains already made.

"We have collected photographs and videos of the destruction and we will have to engage both political parties on discussions, thereafter we will come out with plans for the way forward", the SRSG stated, while assuring the newly elected SLPP Chairman and entire executive and membership of the party of the International Committees and the United Nations support at all times.

It was indeed a shameful scene to witness where the SRSG himself was glancing in a very surprised and shocked mood, the manner in which the building was comprehensively looted and destroyed, not to mention the sight of three pieces of used condoms (allegedly used by some of the rapists) lying in the bare floor at the partys conference hall.

For his part, the Chairman of the SLPP, Mr. John Oponjo Benjamin, informed the press that even with the present condition of the headquarters, they hope to resume normal operations today Monday 23rd March 2009.

The Chairman appealed to all well meaning Sierra Leoneans to come to the rescue of the party, saying the party urgently needs assistance to be able to get back its battered secretariat in order.

He made particular reference to the looting of the partys radio equipment, noting with grief that it would be unfair if the All Peoples Congress (APC) radio station comes back in air when theres remain encountered for as a result of the attack on the secretariat.

According to Mr. Benjamin, the alleged APC thugs who attacked the office were led by senior state security personnel attached to State Houses Presidential Police Guards, and that the whole thing was carefully orchestrated and actualized.

Chairman John Benjamin also damned the police, saying they deliberately failed to intervene in time to prevent the attack. He said rather than defending the building and thereby preventing the atrocities, the police instead turned against them.

He made special reference to a group of SLPP supporters who were found hiding in the ceiling of the party office apparently in fear for their lives, who were later taken to the central police station on the pretext of police protection, but suddenly found themselves turned into suspects. Twenty (22) of SLPP supporters, he said, were arrested and charged to court, whilst those who perpetuated the actual acts were left untouched.

"Let me hasten to say that this act by the APC Government will not move us from our focus. It has only strengthened our resolve and the matured manner in which we have handled the aggression has made us even more popular thus assuring our chances at the 2012 general elections which we hope to win", Benjamin said.

© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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