April 14, 2015 By Mohamed Massaquoi
Information reaching this medium revealed that Sierra Leoneans across the United States of America are planning another massive demonstration against President Ernest Bai Koroma for his “unconstitutional removal of the former Vice President, Samuel Sam-Sumana” on 17 March, 2015, and replacing him with Ambassador Victor Bockarie Foh.
On Saturday, 11 April, thousands of Sierra Leoneans gathered at the Lafayette Park in Washington DC, close to the White House, to protest against the sacking of the elected vice president over a month ago and to condemn the government’s handling of funds for Ebola.
The controversial sacking of the democratically elected vice president has raised tension among Sierra Leoneans in favour and against the decision, both at home and abroad.
Demonstrations have been held in London and Washington by Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora to register their opposition, although a rival group in Washington demonstrated, also on 11 April, in support of the president.
However, no demonstrations have been held locally, despite a release by the main opposition, the Sierra Leone Peoples Party, last month that they would consider a “peaceful demonstration” as part of a six-point resolution in condemnation of the president’s action.
One of the Washington protesters, Aminata Bangura, said they were determined to take to the streets of DC today as President Koroma is expected to meet with World Bank officials.
“We have divided ourselves into groups to express ourselves through protest. The Ernest Bai Koroma administration has deprived our people to peacefully protest against his decision by using the military and the police, that is the reason we want the international community to know that our country is currently under constitutional crisis,” Ms. Bangura said in a telephone interview from DC.
Alpha Jalloh, another Sierra Leone in Maryland, said they would arrive in Washington early today for the planned second demonstration.
“We want our friends and brothers to know that Sierra Leone belongs to all of us. We fought a decade civil conflict because of maladministration, corruption and nepotism. The signs of the rebel war have again started, where the police and the military will be used by the government to suppress democratic ventures,” said Jalloh, adding that it was significant that the country is united against unconstitutionality. “We will definitely protest against President Koroma today. We are doing this because a good number of us have investments out there and our family members strongly rely on us for support.”
But pro-President Koroma protesters in Washington averred to “the good work of the president” since he assumed the presidency in 2007.
Hassan Kanu, a member of the group, said they would openly commend the president for his good work and commitment in the maintenance of good governance and democracy in the country.
“We believe that the president is working in the interest of our country. His decision to sack VP Sumana was predicated upon constitutional provisions and the subsequent action against the VP by his own political party, the All Peoples Congress (APC),” he said and added that they would be out to show solidarity and support to the president.
The country’s Supreme Court is yet to start hearing the substantive issue of the constitutionality or lack of it of the president’s decision to sack and replace his “principal assistant”.
Lawyers representing the sacked vice president had filed a motion at the Supreme Court last month, seeking an interpretation of the 1991 Constitution and an interim injunction restraining Ambassador Victor Foh to continue to act as vice president while the matter is yet to be determined.
Lawyers for both sides argued the injunction case at the apex court last Thursday, and a ruling is now expected by the court, which reserved its ruling, although it failed to indicate a date.