Executive and ordinary members, Parliamentarians, Presidential aspirants and supporters of the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) were ruthlessly attacked in Kono, eastern Sierra Leone, on the 13th and 14th November 2010.
The SLPP party offices and residences of SLPP members were also attacked by smearing of human excreta (kaka) on the said premises. Prime suspect of the attacks is a very strong supporter of the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) party, Adamu Eze.
Most, if not all of the aforementioned attacks happened in broad daylight in the full view of personnel of the Sierra Leone Police, and unfortunately no arrests were made.
The aforesaid occurrences have all been confirmed by the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC), following an independent investigation the Commission initiated to verify claims by the SLPP.
Society for Democratic Initiative (SDI) has also confirmed the attacks on the SLPP in Kono.
The SLPP members narrowly escaped the deadly attacks and on their arrival in Freetown wasted no time in summoning a press conference to make public their ordeals.
The SLPP executive used the forum as an opportunity to urge the government to publicly condemn the violence and institute an independent investigation to bring the perpetrators to book. This call has so far fallen on deaf ears.
Sequel to that, the SLPP Members of Parliament addressed a letter to the Speaker of Parliament requesting the intervention of the House in the matter. In the letter, the SLPP MPs urged the government to form a team comprising the police, PPRC, Civil Society organizations and the international community to immediately investigate and publicly report on the attacks.
“We also demand from the government an immediate response to our position, failing which we the SLPP Members of Parliament shall hold in abeyance our participation in the forthcoming debate and approval of the Appropriation Bill of 2011,” the letter, dated 19th November, 2010 read.
On Monday 22nd November 2010 following the commencement of the debate on the 2011 budget, Parliament refused to look into the matter when it was brought up by SLPP Hon. Elizabeth Lavalie. Not satisfied with the decision of parliament and to make true an earlier warning, the SLPP MPs staged a walkout and the protest continues sine die.
In similar vein, on Tuesday 23rd November, 2010 the SLPP Women’s Wing issued out a statement condemning violence against women and reminded the president of an earlier assurance he made to defend and protect women against all forms of violence.
It’s been over eleven days now since the incidents took place in Kono and irrespective of several calls on government to publicly denounce such acts and set up an investigative team to look into the matter, the government has seen no reason to heed to such calls.
However, if what the Government Spokesman said on national radio yesterday is anything to go by, then the APC led Government will today come out with a statement to denounce the Kono violence.
Meanwhile, the time at which the long awaited condemnation of violence is coming has sparked fresh debates.
Why did the APC government fail to condemn the Kono violence until now?
Why did they make believe that the issue was not of national concern but an SLPP/APC thing?
Why did they continue with the national budget debate in the absence of members of parliament representing the major political party, SLPP?
Why was I.B. Kargbo quick to disown Adamu as a supporter of APC, irrespective of the fact that Karamoh Kabba, the Director of Political Affairs has earlier made public that Adamu is a supporter of the APC?
The preceding questions and more are presently being asked by Sierra Leoneans, and it is expected that the expected government statement today would provide answers to them.
It is now widely believed that it was deliberate on the part of the APC to refuse to heed to the legitimate demands of the SLPP in order to exclude them from the debate of such a crucial budget.
Let us assume that the APC condemns the Kono violence today and sets up an investigative committee to look into the matter as demanded by the SLPP, would the SLPP Parliamentarians return to parliament by tomorrow to participate in the final day of a five-day debate on a sensitive issue like the national budget?
In my own view, it will make no sense for the SLPP to allow themselves to be fooled by the APC to return to Parliament so that the budget would be ratified by all of them, when the fact remains that the SLPP will have no vital input in the said budget at this point in time. What more does the SLPP have to input in the 2011 budget in just one day? Would they be able to challenge all what has been said by the APC MPs for the past days since the debate commenced on Monday?
The truth of the matter is, the time for denouncing the Kono violence that took place over eleven days now is long overdue and doing it now has little or no impact at all.
It’s too late to condemn the Kono violence.
This, is my humble view.
© Copyright by Awareness Times
Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.