JOB urges int’l community intervention
March 30, 2015 By Mohamed Massaquoi
Former Chairman and Leader of the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) has called on the international community – including the United Nations, ECOWAS and the African Union – to swiftly intervene into the political and constitutional crisis currently threatening to derail the democratic gains the country has recorded over the years.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Concord Times, John Oponjo Benjamin (popularly known as JOB), noted that peace and democracy must be allowed to prevail in the country, thus cautioning the governing All People’s Congress (APC) “not to underestimate the people’s power”.
“It is frustrating that the international community has not made any statement since President Ernest Bai Koroma blatantly violated the 1991 Constitution by sacking Vice President Samuel Sam-Sumana,” charged Mr. Benjamin. “The SLPP spent a lot of resources and effort to build democratic institutions within the governance system, and as the main opposition party in Sierra Leone, we are asking President Koroma to do the right thing instead of pushing this country into conflict.”
According to Benjamin, the international community should directly intervene in the currently crisis “because they have spent a lot of money on our democracy”.
“We will definitely not allow anybody to destroy the democracy we’ve fought very hard and sacrificed a lot to put in place,” maintained the former opposition leader. “When I was chairman of the SLPP, President Koroma sacked the Bank Governor, sacked the Inspector General of Police, but his decision to sack the Vice President is the highest undemocratic decision ever taken in this country. This is the more reason why we are very much determined to challenge him.”
There has been a lot of outcry from almost all sections of the Sierra Leonean society against the controversial decision of President Koroma to sack his vice. This followed an earlier decision by the ruling APC party to expel the embattled VP from their ranks on allegations of anti-party activities, among others.
Mr. Sam-Sumana had just served a 21-day self-imposed quarantine following the death of one of his bodyguards to Ebola, and was poised to return to work the following day when the announcement of his sacking was made on the very day he ended his quarantine.
He has denied all allegations leveled against him by the ruling party, and has also appealed to the Supreme Court against the President’s decision to relieve him of his post.
“Though there is a Supreme Court action, yet the people’s power should not be underestimated,” Mr. Benjamin further cautioned. “This country belongs to all of us and we will not allow few people to mismanage the democracy we have fought for so hard.”
Benjamin also condemned President Koroma’s move to appoint and swear-in Ambassador Victor Bockarie Foh as vice president, as according to him, “he (Foh) is not qualified to take up such a responsible position”.
“This government has destroyed every democratic institution in the country,” he blasted. “The police have issued out a press statement banning any peaceful demonstration against the APC but they will encourage people from Kono and other places to demonstrate in favour of the APC. This is not acceptable in a democracy.”
He concluded: “It is obvious that the President has broken the law but he must understand that if the judiciary does not dispense justice in this matter, we can take it to the ECOWAS Court or even the ICC.”