Several citizens were forced to conclude that President Ernest Bai Koroma was in a total state of panic when he saw thousands and thousands of people from all walks of life gracing the campaign launch rally of one of the leading aspirants of the SLPP Flagbearer race, Usman Boie Kamara, on Saturday 18th December 2010 in Freetown.
Usman Boie Kamara (aka UBK) and his beautiful wife were walking in a massive crowd of supporters starting from Brima Attouga Stadium in Cline Town to SLPP Party headquarters in Central Freetown. The SLPP had secured permission for the rally from the Sierra Leone Police. When the UBK crowd reached Kissy Road, they were shocked to see President Koroma in a convoy of heavily armed security personnel driving slowly eastwards through the crowd of SLPP revelers walking westwards.
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The Presidential convoy which was heading for an unknown destination after a few minutes made an inexplicable U-Turn few minutes later and the President was spotted in an uneasy mood dressed in a white hat and a pair of short trousers with a crestfallen appearance. It was clear that wherever had been his ultimate destination, he changed his mind and headed back.
This time, the President met the UBK revelers at the East-End Police Magazine Cut/Mountain Cut junction point. That was the time the SLPP supporters of UBK showed their maturity when they waved to the President whilst merrily singing that the President should start to think of taking his rest as Usu Boie is ready to take over.
Most unfortunately for the President’s political tolerance credentials, it was at this point that the Police officers abruptly blocked Usu Boie from using the pre-planned and police authorised Sani Abacha Street where traders and marketwomen had lined up to wave to Usu Boie who is himself the son of a famous Freetown trader, Pa Boie-Kamara.
The Police officers said they had been ordered that Usu Boie should not use the pre-planned route as only President Koroma was allowed to use that route and the police forced the SLPP to instead use the Goderich Street uphill route. Once again, the UBK crowd exhibited maturity and danced up Goderich Street thus preventing the Abacha Street traders to hailing Usu-Boie.
Interestingly, eyewitnesses say some of the police officers who prevented the rally group from using the Abacha Street axis on the excuse that the route should only be used by the President, were later heard cursing against President Koroma for blocking Usu Boie from using the route.
Meanwhile, several onlookers expressed dissatisfaction over the move of the President to roam the streets on that day knowing too well that the SLPP was organizing a rally especially as he could not limit himself to avoiding streets where he knew the SLPP aspirant would be rallying.
The action of the president was widely considered as an attempt to disrupt the SLPP rally or even more sinister, an attempt to provoke supporters of Usu Boie into reacting negatively thus giving Presidential bodyguards a chance to perpetuate another of their now well-known lessons in Brutality.
“Why was President Koroma driving alongside our rally with his windows open if he was not trying to provoke us into throwing taunts at him. What if a crazy supporter had thrown an egg or water on his face? It was reckless behavior,” an angry youthful supporter told this writer at the Party Offices adding his opinion that “blocking us from using Sani Abacha Street and waving to the Abacha Street traders is evidence that President Koroma is afraid of Usu Boie’s massive growing popularity”.
© Copyright by Awareness Times
Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.