From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Local News
In Sierra Leone, Police Political Neutrality Questioned
By Dauda Koroma
Nov 19, 2010, 17:04

Society for Democratic Initiative, Sierra Leone (SDI), has questioned the political neutrality of the Sierra Leone Police (SLP), especially in the past two years.

“SDI wants to remind the hierarchy of the Sierra Leone Police that theirs is a national force and must provide unbiased and untainted security to every Sierra Leoneans. The police force should not be an instrument or shield for political disorder by any political party,” reads a press release issued by SDI on the 18th November 2010, with regards to recent attacks launched against the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) in Koidu.

“SDI strongly and unreservedly condemns the political violence which occurred in the city of Koidu, in Kono District on the 12th and 13th November 2010.

“On the evening of 12th November, with the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) supporters and aspiring flagbearers in Koidu as part of the SLPP Flagbearership national tour, the SLPP was attacked with buckets of human excreta intended to disrupt proceedings in the most offensive of manner. Eyewitness reports suggest as many as 50 youths as the principal offenders.

“These chaotic scenes were followed by a series of violent outbursts across the city on 13th November as SLPP aspiring flagbearers and supporters’ cars were attacked with stones as they faced impromptu roadblocks while trying to leave the city. John Benjamin, SLPP Chairman, was also the subject of an attempted physical assault while one aspiring flagbearer’s residence was ambushed. Reports suggest five people injured, one of whom was considered seriously injured after a violent beating at the hands of a number of youths,” the release states.

The release went on to note that the police reportedly turned a blind eye to the violent proceedings, despite them being informed repeatedly of the incidents.

“SDI is very concerned about the repeated questions raised on the neutrality and apolitical stance of the Sierra Leone Police particularly when during political violence and disturbances,” the release pointed out, adding “The SLP is supposed to be a national force and responsible for protecting and keeping the peace and stability of the whole of Sierra Leone and its people”.

SDI raised similar concerns with regards the outburst of political violence, especially given the upcoming by-election in December in the region and the history of political violence.

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