-says no level playing field to participate
March 5, 2018 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
Four of the political parties contesting Wednesday, March 7 multitier elections, have complained about continued threats, intimidation and violence meted against their supporters allegedly by the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) operatives, to suppress opposition votes on polling day.
Representatives of the National Grand Coalition (NGC), Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), Coalition for Change (C4C) and the People’s Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC), stated that they had reported incidents of intimidation and harassment to the police, but that very little has been done in terms of arrest and investigation.
At a presser hosted at the Hill Valley Hotel in Freetown, they said issues including blatant use of state resources for campaigning by the APC, violation of electoral laws and widespread threats, harassment, intimidation and even demotion of officials suspected as sympathisers of opposition parties and use of state security apparatus to create fear among the populace, were similar patterns of electoral malpractice from recent post-war elections.
With few days to the actual voting, they claimed that there has been no level playing field to participate fully in the entire process as security apparatus have been siding with the ruling government.
Public Relations Officer of C4C, Alusine Macfoy, said their supporters, especially those in Kabala and Kono, have been intimidated by APC operatives with the police doing nothing to handle the issue.
“In Kabala, our supporters were beaten massively by APC thugs on the day of our campaign. The ongoing intimidation and harassment of opposition parties’ supporters is sending a message that we are not safe anymore,” he claimed.
According to him, such actions would instill fear in people and prevent them from casting their votes for the party of their choice on the day of voting.
On his part, SLPP Publicity Secretary, Lahai Lawrence Leema, spoke about the many press releases they have put out regarding intimidation and violence meted against their supporters allegedly by the ruling party.
“Any attempt by the police to move ahead with the vehicular ban will be resisted to the fullest because it is outside the confines of the law,” he threatened.
NGC Chairman and Leader, Dr. Dennis Bright said: “There is no level playing field. Our supporters are living in a state of siege. We feel unprotected as a people because the police are not offering us the protection we deserve.”
He added that there was evil imbalance in what was happening currently and that political parties were being paraded to sign up to peace documents, with the ruling APC absenting themselves in some.
Meanwhile, Head of Police Media and Public Relations Unit, Superintendent Ibrahim Samura, had remarked that they always investigate cases brought to them by various political parties and that they do not side with or give preferential treatment to any one party.