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COMMENTS & OPINIONS  

Presidentís Speech Panics Citizens
By Abdul Fonti
Oct 9, 2009, 13:15
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The latest speech delivered to the nation by President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has created panic among a majority of the citizens of Sierra
Leone.

The address in relation to the rising spate of armed robbery attacks in the western area and other provincial towns was aired on national radio and television on the night of Tuesday 6th October 2009.

Although some of us consider the ďnewĒ measures invoked by President Koroma as mere reiteration of our countryís policing laws, several citizens have completely misinterpreted the pronouncements of the President, to an extent of creating undue panic in especially the capital city of Freetown.

President Koroma, in his speech delivered in the queenís language, mandated among other things that ďa joint military and police operation shall be mounted under the MACP protocol which I have signed to take effect from 7pm to 7am everyday until further noticeĒ.

The citizens were quick to misrepresent the President as declaring a national curfew from 7pm to 7am everyday. The rumours of the ďcurfewĒ and ďstate of emergencyĒ declared by the President quickly spread among the citizens like a bush fire in the harmattan. This situation succeeded in igniting fears on the citizens, who were on Wednesday 7th¬†October spotted closing their shops and rushing home as early as 6pm, in order not to float the almighty instructions of the APC leader and President of the Republic of Sierra Leone.

As if that misinterpretation was not enough, others were busy spreading news that the President has ordered the police and soldiers to shoot and kill on sight anybody suspected to be an armed robber. People shivered, run and hide for their lives.

But who is really to be blamed for such news that succeeded in creating more insecurity rather than allaying the fears of the already terrorized citizens?

The citizens, who are mostly illiterate and cannot speak or hear the Queenís English, are definitely not to be blamed. With all due respect, the President and his battery of advisers ought to know that about 70% of the Sierra Leonean citizens cannot read and write. Simply put, approximately 70 percent of Sierra Leoneans are illiterate. The issue of the terrific acts of armed robbery is an internal issue affecting the illiterate citizens of the country. Therefore, it was but fitting that the address of the President should have been delivered in PLAIN KRIO. If President Koroma had delivered his Ďarmed robbery statementí in Krio, there would have been no cause for alarm and misinterpretation, since the least citizen understands and speaks KRIO.

Let me submit at this juncture that the advisers and speech writers of our President should desist from allowing our President and Commander-in-Chief to stop reading and issuing out statements that can be easily misinterpreted.

Apart from all the aforementioned, the same speech has sparked a range of debates among even the enlightened citizens. Several people have expressed fear that the President has given a field day to security personnel to harass and intimidate the civilian populace. These concerns have to do with the sentence in the Presidentís statement that reads: ďÖAny person so arrested under this joint operation shall be prosecuted according to the lawĒ.

The President either by accident or design failed to specify who is to be arrested under this joint operation, thus authorizing the police and soldiers to harass, arrest and charge to court whosoever they feel like arresting and charging.

Please Mr. President, say something, as your speech has succeeded in putting the lives and security of your citizens at stake.

Specify who is to be arrested and on what grounds the said arrests should be effected. We are waiting!!!


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