January 15, 2019

As observers would prove us right, the country is currently characterised with deepen political tension. There have been cases of arrests of opposition party members by the Sierra Leone Police, who might be acting on orders from above.

We at Concord Times are seriously concerned especially when the country and its population are witnessing serious economy hard-hit. We expect that the focus of the current New Direction administration should be the revamping of the economy, albeit much is being done in that direction.

Currently, the country’s youth unemployment stands at about 60%, according to several reports, and the government is expected to focus on this thorny issue as a sacred social responsibility to move the country forward.

While we applaud the government for taking several strides in salvaging the country’s economy, we condemn outright the crackdown on opposing politicians. We view it as a complete distraction to the reality on ground and the government should not be hoodwinked into such kind of human rights violations.

The invitation of opposition politicians for questioning by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) and the withdrawal of state security personnel from the former vice president, Chief Samuel Sam Sumana are seriously unhealthy for the country’s democracy. We are aware of the fact the utterances of the opposition were outrageous, but government should not have paid heed to it and create room for more issues.

We are also aware that some members of the now ruling SLPP seriously suffered in the hands of the now opposition All Peoples Congress, but following the blueprint of the past regime would not augur well for the country.

Currently, we are in dire need of foreign investors to come and invest and reduce the high rate of youth unemployment in the country. And news going out about the current political tension in the country would just scare them away.

We are of the firm conviction that in all of this, the opposition has nothing to lose like the government. Whatever the nature of arrest might be, the international community and human rights campaigners would describe it as a crackdown on opposition politicians and that would constitute a minus to the government.

The Sierra Leone police is on record for engaging in arbitrary arrest and unlawful shooting of civilians during the past ten years regime of the All People’s Congress. A report released by Amnesty International in 2018 seriously indicted the police and called on the new government to end police crackdown on peaceful protests.

The human rights group also called for the lifting of restrictions on peaceful demonstrations and ending entrenched impunity for police killings of protesters.

President Bio in his address in parliament promised to uphold the tenets of human rights. We are calling on him to live by his words and stop focusing on issues that have the tendency to distract him from effecting national development. In as much as he might not be aware of certain happenings that have the tendency to create chaos, he should not be oblivious of the fact that he owes a responsibility to maintain the hard won peace of Mama Salone.

Whereas we accept the fact that the police are bound to serve the government of the day, we are calling on them to be independent in the discharge of their duties. Total independence of state institutions in Sierra Leone, we believe, is difficult to achieve, but acting rashly to satisfy thy master would always continue to put them in a bad light.