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EDITORIALS  

Sierra Leone President Displays Maturity as a Ruling Party Leader
By Awareness Times Editorial Board
Sep 12, 2011, 15:15
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SLPP members in SLPP stronghold of Bo City have seemingly got away with burning APCs Bo Offices. SLPP boys stripped stark naked APCs Bo Chairlady, Madam Zainab Mansaray, then slashed her naked body with cutlasses following which they headed for house of Alhaji Sheku Sillah, APC Chairman in Bo. They set it on fire after looting it. They attacked office of an APC Support Group, De Pa In Yai and also set it on fire. After allegedly disarming police officers of weapons, SLPP members took on the police in running street battles...     See below for our News Analysis


Maturity of APC Leader Averts More Violence
...but we now need the Shears-Moses Report

A News Analysis by Editorial Team

 

There has been numerous complaints from APC members located all over the country because of what they perceive to be weakness on the part of their Party Leader who is the sitting President, His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma. They believe that the APCs Press Release on the recent Bo City issue could have better detailed the horrors their members suffered in Bo at the hands of the opposition SLPP.

 

They are upset that due to the non-potent nature of the APC Press Release, SLPP members in the SLPP stronghold of Bo City have seemingly got away with storming APC Offices in Bo which they burnt down; SLPP boys stripped stark naked the APC Chairlady for Bo, Madam Zainab Mansaray and then slashed at her naked body with cutlasses following which they headed for the house of Alhaji Sheku Sillah, the APC Chairman for Bo, which they proceeded to set ablaze after comprehensively looting it.

 

The SLPP youths also attacked the office building of an APC support group known as De Pa In Yai and also set it on fire. After allegedly disarming weapons off 12 police officers, SLPP members took on the police in running street battles as the police fought to stop them from burning more APC houses and mutilating more female APC members.


SLPP youths engaged in this unconscionable political violence when a stone allegedly hit the head of SLPPs Presidential Nominee Julius Maada Bio whilst he was in a street rallying convoy in Bo.


The APC Leader personally saw to it that the Police safeguarded all SLPP premises countrywide
Following all of this violence against APC, the APC-led Government of Ernest Bai Koroma sent police officers to all SLPP party offices around the country to ensure no one attacked SLPP Offices in retaliation. Police presence was reinforced to protect and secure the SLPP Headquarters in Freetown. We are reliably informed that President Koroma personally saw to the nation-wide policing of all SLPP premises including the ones in Makeni and in all Northern towns.


Until this moment of going to press on Sunday September 11th 2011, because of such sterling leadership on the part of the Koroma Government, there has not been a single reported case of tit-for-tat attack on any member of the SLPP or on any SLPP Office in any place within all corners of Sierra Leone. The APC Leader has ensured all citizens have been kept safe regardless of their political affiliation. The APC Leader has set up a broad-based Independent Investigating Team including the PPRC, SLAJ and CGG. Office of the President and the APC party also issued Press Releases to condemn the eruption of violence in Bo City.

 

In sharp contrast, the SLPP has issued a blame-game Press Release but is yet to condemn the eruption of violence in Bo which SLPP interestingly describes to be as a consequence of APC youths started pelting stones deliberately targeted at Rtd. Brig. Maada Bio. The APC and SLPP Releases are in this edition.


SLPP Secretary General Sulaiman Banja Tejansie issued the blame-game Statement confirming the violence to be a tit-for-tat affair that shows no regard or understanding of the Rule of Law. Additionally, Tejansies Press Release only extended sympathies to their processing members and supporters who were injured or allegedly lost lives. Infact, the entire SLPP Press Release is a public show of callous disregard for the destruction and injuries suffered by APC members in Bo.


On the negative side of the APC, it is now established that contrary to initial reports from the hierarchy in Bo, there were indeed a lot of APC youths wearing red T-shirts standing by the roadside whilst the huge mass of green-apparelled SLPP youths passed by. This was first stated by SLPP Chairman John Benjamin & now confirmed by APC Chairlady for Bo, Madam Zainab Mansaray.  APC youths in red standing by the roadside in numbers at an SLPP rally, should be strongly condemned by us all. Whoever allowed those APC youths to come out in their red colours paid no heed to the bright examples hitherto set by APC Leader when he shut down APC offices in Freetown during SLPP street functions.


However, it has also been fully established now that the Police warned the SLPP Rally NOT to pass along the street housing the APC and PMDC offices but the SLPP defied the Police and danced passed the APC offices singing songs of provocation against the APC. Why? This should also be condemned.

 

To make matters even worse for SLPP, their Spokesman Hon. Musa Tamba Sam was over nationwide Monologue radio to offhandedly provoke APC members who suffered arson at the hands of SLPP sympathisers. He mockingly told the public to go and ask APC how come they were so careless that their houses got burnt down. Such callousness and such provocation! Tamba Sam was not convincing when he tried to explain away how come a handful of APC youths could dare to use stones to take on an SLPP crowd which was supposedly so mammoth-sized that it supposedly took over four hours to complete a four kilometer distance.

 

This is a cross-section of the crowd in Bo City which was taking Maada Bio along from the Mosque to the Coronation Field. This is the crowd which it is alleged came under stoning by a handful of APC youths

 

How does the SLPP expect us to believe their narration of such occurrence in Bo city? Bo City??? Bo City??? A handful of APC youths will try to stone Julius Maada Bio travelling in a mammoth sized rallying crowd in SLPP-dominated Bo City? Bo City??? Bo City???

 

Also, Hon. Musa Tamba Sam over the air waves, was laisse-faire in his attitude and exhibited gross misunderstanding of the laws of Sierra Leone when he said political parties do not need clearance from the police to amass in large numbers and rally through streets of cities. As a duly elected MP, he disappointed many citizens with the level of blind ignorance in his uttered statements.


To make matters worse for the SLPPs public relations and even much more of a cause for concern to ordinary citizens was the fact that Tamba Sams explanation of how come Maada Bio got wounded, conflicts with the explanation in the Tejansie Press Release. According to Musa Tamba Sam speaking over Monologue radio, it appears that Bio did not even feel that he had been hit on the head until he used a handkerchief to wipe his head and saw blood on the cloth.

 

SLPP's Presidential Candidate Julius Maada Bio sitting on a hospital bed in private clinic of Dr. Yillah in Bo City

 

SLBC television has shown photos of Maada Bio with a huge plaster over the topmost part of his head with the hair shaved off that area. Now, Tamba Sam claims the stone which hit the top of Maada Bios head came in through the sun-roof and struck him where he was seated inside the car. This conflicts with the initial reports that Maada Bio had been standing outside of the sun roof and waving to the crowds when a stone hit him in his face, above the eye.

 

SLPP's Maada Bio at Bo Coronation Field with a Plaster atop his head. He has no facial wounds

 

The TV cameras focussed well on Bios face and factually, nowhere on Maada Bios face was any injury or damage shown. We only saw a huge plaster strip at the top of his head. Musa Tamba Sams utterances have only served to reduce sympathy for Maada Bio. We have said it before and we will say it again: Musa Tamba Sam is a bull in a china shop.

 

The matured actions of the APC versus the callous and immature actions of the SLPP in the wake of Bo events, speak volumes about which entity cares more for the welfare of all citizens and which entity cares nought for those outside of their political grouping. Sierra Leoneans are not stupid and they can analyse the handling of the issue by APC Leadership and SLPP Leadership.

 

This is why we are calling on APC members not to be upset with Ernest Bai Koroma for refusing to give a tit-for-tat order for them to go on a revengeful rampage. Also, let APC members not be upset with Koroma for not issuing a Press Release which might have inflamed emotions even higher causing disturbance to spread. Let them take solace in the fact that the public can judge as to which kind of leadership is better for this country as we move into the next few years. Surely, we know it is painful for APC members especially the ones in Bo but take heart in the knowledge that Sierra Leone people are not stupid. Many people shed tears whilst listening to Madam Zainab Mansaray speaking from her hospital bed at Connaught of how she was stripped naked by SLPP boys whom she said proceed to ramadan her.

 

Whilst the APC members might be angry and upset with what might seem to be insensitivity of their Leader to their plight in Bo, let them be rest assured that those of us independent analysts and by extension, the rest of the floating voters in the country, have been able to watch how the two leaderships handled the aftermath of the violence in Bo.

 

Most of all, whilst the Office of the President has condemned the violence and appealed to all Sierra Leoneans to go about their business calmly assured of their safety, the Office of the SLPP Presidential Candidate is yet to say a single prepared word on the issue to the people of the Nation he wants to lead come next year. It is safe to conclude that the SLPP Presidential Candidate is showing us what we should expect from a Maada Bio presidency.

 

Finally but equally importantly, the APC Leader would do very well for himself if he was to immediately release the Report of the Shears-Moses Commission of Enquiry into the Political Violence of March 2009. It is obvious the Report will have had no option but to seriously indict the APC for their violence against the SLPP back then. Despite this, the APC Leader should bite the bullet and release the Report now rather than wait until someone leaks it out to the media as an Elections Campaign tool few days before next years election.

 

Delaying to release that report which is widely rumoured to have indicted the APC for the violence against the SLPP in March 2009 and which is also widely rumoured to have recommended the immediate removal of Musa Tarawalie from the corridors of governance, is counter-productive to the emerging face of matured leadership of President Koroma that many Sierra Leoneans admired and applauded this weekend.

 

Mr. President, Section 149.(2) of the Sierra Leone constitution demands of you to release that Report within 6 months of it being handed over to you. It is now over one year since it was handed to you and citizens still do not know what lessons we should learn from political violence of March 2009 to ensure it never recurs. Lack of knowledge of such lessons that are currently hidden, can be cited as an excuse for political violence by the SLPP. What moral ground will this Nation have to deal with the SLPPs violence against APC in Bo when the Shears Moses Commission report is yet to be made public?


Mr. President, if you continue to delay to release the Shears-Moses Report, you are giving the SLPP an excuse to continue to perpetuate political violence including the burning of APC party offices and the stripping naked of APC women. Many people already have a fair idea of what was recommended inside that Report. Why wait until it is leaked shortly before the 2012 Elections? The damage at that time might be totally irreparable.


Mr. President, it is better you release the Shears-Moses Report and implement the recommendations therein, sooner rather than later. Especially now when you have the obvious higher moral ground with your superb, matured show of ongoing sterling leadership in the face of tremendous provocation from the opposition SLPP.

To end, even as we await to hear from SLPPs Maada Bio, let us once again thank our President for making us so proud of his sterling leadership this weekend. May the APC continue to hold their peace in this matter as the independent investigators go about their work to uncover who did what in Bo City on 09/09/11.


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

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