KALANGBA ECHO: The Sierra Leone Police, 2023 Elections and the Peace of Sierra Leone


By Alusine Sesay

The Sierra Leone police have always made headlines both locally and internationally for the wrong reasons. Recently, it was Amnesty International who raised the red flag on police brutality, extra-judicial killings, oppression, arrest and unlawful detention of members of the opposition in Sierra Leone. The United States Department of State produced similar damning report; cataloging the inhuman activities of the Sierra Leone police.

The two reports exposed the utter disregard for human rights of the Sierra Leone police. Instead of them protecting the rights of citizens, the Sierra Leone Police have been acclaimed of playing the role of a pawn, using their inherent powers to violate the rights of citizens. With the June 24 elections already around the corner, the role of the Sierra Leone police to maintain the hard earned peace of this nation has become more crucial.

Unlike other previous elections, the 2023 elections have its own dimension—tempers are high, both within the opposition and the ruling party. Like the phrase in Mathew Arnold’s poem, Sohrab and Rustum ‘Together they rush as two eagles on one prey’. The two camps— the main opposition All People’s Congress (APC) and the ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP), between whom the June elections would be contested, are extremely hungry for power and they would stop at nothing to quench their thirst.

Over the past five years, the ruling SLPP has done nothing less than heightening political tension in the country, even the least child is now aware about politics, everyone is now aware of his or her tribe and region. I will not beg for people to agree with me but that is the plain truth and nothing but the truth. Emotions are high! And the peace of Sierra Leone is squarely in the hands of the Sierra Leone Police, who are expected to be neutral and professional in discharging their duties.


Over the years, the ruthless actions of the police have been anchored on ‘Orders from Above’ and that phrase has become a signature of the Sierra Leone police. They have never acted on their own, but on the orders of politicians, who mean no good for this nation. Politicians, who are eating into the future of every child including the children of the vulnerable police officers that are being used to unleash mayhem on innocent civilians, are the ones dictating the tune. Imagine a force that is expected to be independent, is always acting on ‘orders from above.’

The current ugly posture of the Sierra Leone police is not a novelty, but a perennial issue which must be dealt with as a matter of priority. Prior to the 2018 elections, Amnesty International released a damning report cataloging the excesses of the Sierra Leone police and recommended that the new government should introduce reforms that would help the police to be professional.But as if they are caught in the web, the image of the Sierra Leone police has become messier under the New Direction administration of President Bio. The police has been and being used as an instrument of oppression.


We all agree that Sierra Leone is enjoying peace but one that stands on weak legs because the things that led to the war are still haunting the nation. The country is still battling with unabated injustice, specifically orchestrated by the police. Due to the heightened political tension, this election can either make or break the peace of this nation and we cannot afford to go into another foolish and selfish war. Therefore, the police should realise that the peace of this nation absolutely lies in their hands and they shouldn’t tamper with it.

 Although at times we pity their position, but they should realise that the interest of the country comes first and that no order from above should take away their sacred duty of protecting the right everyone regardless of their political lineage. They should be flexible in handling the security situation during the elections, or else the hard earned peace of the country will be a thing of the past.Rember,war is not drama and the scar of the eleven-year rebel is on everybody’s face and we should all work towards maintain the peace we are enjoying today.  


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