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UN country rep urges dialogue amid political tension

June 6, 2019

By Patrick Jaiah Kamara

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UN Resident Coordinator, Sunil Saigal wants sustainable peace in the country.

The United Nations Resident Coordinator in Sierra Leone has called on political stakeholders to engage in ‘meaningful dialogue’ with the view to reducing the tension and ‘maintain the focus on addressing the important development needs of the country and its people’.

In a short statement issued on June 4, 2019, Sunil Saigal assured the government and Sierra Leoneans of their contribution to such dialogue, and called on all Sierra Leoneans to maintain peace and calm.

After the presidential and parliamentary elections in March 2018, there have been series of clashes between the opposition All Peoples Congress (APC) lawmakers and the ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) representatives.

On the resumption of the Fifth Parliament, tension broke out between some APC lawmakers and the police. Apparently, some were not allowed to take oath of office after the High Court handed down injunction on them due to some petitions filed against them in the court.

The entire membership of the party in Parliament protested and could not participate in the election of the Speaker of Parliament.

Also, there were reported cases of violence in the Tonko Limba by-election, Kambia district where an SLPP candidate won a councilor seat that was initially occupied by APC.

However, during the State Opening of Parliament, APC MPs walked out of the Well as the president was about to deliver his address. They alleged among other things that the SLPP government was marginalizing them as opposition.

Meanwhile, in the midst of all these, APC refused to take part in the Bintumani III conference on peace and national cohesion organised  by the government.

Thus, last week ruling on the petition cases which saw 10 of their MPs axed, added salt to injury.

Last Friday, violence erupted between some APC supporters and the Sierra Leone Police immediately after the court handed down verdicts on the petition cases filed by SLPP.

Some anti-riot police officers arrived at the party headquarters in Brookfields to quell down what they claimed was fast becoming a public disturbance. They fired teargas into the party office and arrested several supporters.

Meanwhile, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, Lahai Lawrence Leema posted on his Facebook page that the APC party  was trying hard to derail the country’s hard won peace and make it impossible for the ruling SLPP to govern an already ‘fragile country.