From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Politics
APC/SLPP Peace Pact in Shambles
By Abdul Fonti
Apr 15, 2011, 17:16

Implementation of the joint peace communiqué between ruling All People’s Congress (APC) party and the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) did not make much progress in 2010, Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) has confirmed.

In the Commission’s 2010 Annual Report formally launched on Wednesday 13th April, 2011 at their Tower Hill offices in Freetown, it was implied that the government was yet to demonstrate the political will as far as the implementation of the 2009 communiqué was concerned.

It could be recalled that the SLPP as the main opposition party was subjected to sustained brutal attacks in March 2009 by people widely believed to be associated with the ruling APC party. As a sequel to the heightened political tensions at the time, the United Nations Peacebuilding Mission in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL) saw it expedient to intervene by bringing the two factions together to map out strategies for an aversion of a recurrence which culminated in the signing of a peace communiqué where both parties pledged for an end to politically motivated attacks.

The communiqué also recommended the setting up of an investigative panel to look into events that provoked those serial confrontations both in Freetown and other provincial towns that saw the SLPP mostly affected, leaving its national secretariat systematically vandalized, vehicles burnt down and women raped. During its sittings, the panel heard that the Close Protection Bodyguard of the President, Idrissa Kamara aka Leather Boot was the main perpetrator of the deadly March 16, 2009 attack on the Wallace Johnson Street Headquarters of the SLPP.

“The Panel submitted its report on the incidents of political violence in March 2009, but a white paper was not released by government,” PPRC’s 2010 Annual Report charges the Ernest Koroma led government.

Even as the National Chairman and Leader of the SLPP, John Oponjo Benjamin, in the SLPP’s monthly press briefings severally made alarm calls reminding the APC led Government of Sierra Leone of its obligation to release a government White Paper to that effect as recommended by the panel, it was to no avail.

The PPRC report also raised concern over the use of ex-combatants as bodyguards to political leaders. “The inclusion of ex-combatants as bodyguards to the leaders of political parties was an issue of concern. The names of some of the ex-combatants resonate with atrocities committed in the country’s civil war. This was in complete contrast with the TRC report’s recommendations on ex-combatants and the joint communiqué,” the release further states.

Also of great concern to the PPRC as published in that report for the period under review was youth vulnerability which continues to be a major challenge. “They suffer unemployment, poverty, low literacy rate, unskilled trades, and lack of access to social amenities or services. These challenges hinder their effective participation in the democratic dispensation of the country. The commission observed that youths were involved in political violence and partisan politics,” the report says.  



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