By Bai Bai Sesay – In a press release issued this week, Society for Democratic Initiatives, Sierra Leone (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 12 November, with the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) supporters and aspirant flagbearers in Koidu as part of the SLPP flagbearership national tour, the SLPP office was attacked with buckets of human excrement intended to disrupt proceedings in the most offensive of manner. Eye-witness 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 13 November as SLPP aspirant 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 aspirant 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.
Sources have suggested that the police initially turned a blind eye to the violent proceedings, despite them being informed repeatedly of the incidents, before they called in reinforcement from Makeni to diffuse the situation.
SDI is very concern about the repeated questions raised on the neutrality and apolitical stance of the Sierra Leone Police particularly when particularly during political violence and disturbances. 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. However, repeatedly the political neutrality of the SLP has been questioned over the past two years. SDI wants to remind the hierarchy of the SLP that theirs is a national force and must provide unbiased and untainted security to every Sierra Leone.
The police force should be an instrument or shield for political disorder by any political party SDI is similarly concerned about this outburst of political violence, especially given the upcoming by-election in December in the region and
the history of political violence associated with the city – this time last year, there were reports of similar violent outbursts associated with political activity.
Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai, Executive Director of SDI, had the following comments on the situation, “there is no place for violence in this country especially that associated with political process and political affiliation. SDI considers the situation in Kono as particularly dangerous given its fractious political mix.
Only when the electorate can be assured of non-violent electoral process, which includes political campaigning, can Sierra Leone rightly be called a democratic country and considered to have progressed beyond the tensions which have so marred its past.” For more information please contact Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai Esq., Executive Director, +2315584297; firstname.lastname@example.org ; Mrs. Rosemarie Blake +23233315362; email@example.com