By Yusufu S. Bangura
The Director of Defense, Public Relations and Information, Ministry of Defense, Colonel Issa Bangura, has noted that military personnel do not have any justification to stage a coup because their mandate is to protect the constitution.
Colonel Bangura made the above statement when he was hosted at the popular Radio Democracy ‘Gud Morning Salone’ program where he was speaking about a symposium they organised for military personnel to educate them about military professionalism in democracy.
Director Issa said during the meeting various speakers educated military personnel about what they should do in order to promote democracy in the country because they had found out that security situation within the West African sub regions is changing rapidly.
He recalled that after independence, Africa experienced coups in Ghana, Nigeria, Togo among others, but after some time when they had democratic institutions to support democracy in the sub regions, coup reduced.
He cited that, recently they have seen that coup have started again in countries like Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso and Niger.
He emphasised that it against that backdrop the senior management thought it necessary for them to have a seminar to reiterate the importance of the loyalty of armed forces.
“So, we want military men and women to know that we don’t have any justification to stage a coup in this country because our mandate is to protect the constitution, he noted.
“The lecture from of the presenters helped us a lot because he was able to point out that we don’t have any justification to stage a coup in this country. According to the Constitution of Sierra Leone, our roles and responsibilities are clearly spelt out, so it should not be an excuse for somebody to wake up one morning and want to stage a coup, which has many implications. Some of the implications are destruction of life and property, extensive human rights abuse, extra judicial killings, bad blood and hatred military rivalry and mistrust within the population and wrong international condemnation. International partners will withdraw from the country which is not a positive sign for us as a nation,” he stated.
He reiterated that some members of the armed forces failed to understand that their mandate is to protect the constitution, adding that if the military takes up arms against the state, the first thing they do is to suspend the constitution, that’s why the various topics coined for the seminar were very important.
He added during the seminar, they were able to get experience, learnt and shared lessons learnt because the various speakers, who delivered the lecture, are people, who had served the military.
Responding to alleged coup plot, Bangura said based on lessons learnt from other countries like Mali, Niger, and Guinea within few weeks, the government of Sierra Leone foiled a planned coup and the culprits are under investigation.
Going further, Bangura said that the leadership of the Ministry of Defence has been embarking on regular trainings, but yet they needed to bring personnel together, and reiterate to them the importance of the military.
Responding to burning issues faced by military personnel, Colonel Issa Bangura said the symposium will be of help to them because in the military they have internal and external communications through which personnel can express their grievances freely without them being reprimanded.
He further disclosed that the seminar covered a topic on civil military cooperation, adding that the topic was a very important as a result of their current operations.
“As military personnel, we need to have professional relationship with civilians, otherwise we will have duplication of effort. But the presenter told us that while deploying in other countries as members of the armed forces, we should be able to undertake meaningful project that will benefit both civilians and the military,” he said.