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Over calls to remove Public Emergency

…UDM leader slams SLPP leadership

August 5, 2015 By Victoria Saffa

The chairman and leader of the United Democratic Party (UDM) has targeted the main opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) for condemnation after their leadership called on the government to terminate the current State of Public Emergency that was declared by President Ernest Bai Koroma, almost a year ago, as a measure to contain the  dreaded Ebola virus.

Mohamed Bangura made public his condemnation yesterday at the UDM headquarters on Pademba Road in Freetown while addressing journalists on his party’s position on the extension of the State of Public Health Emergency.

He said the call by the SLPP to terminate the State of Public Health Emergency would clearly undermine the fight against the Ebola outbreak in the country, noting that main opposition party is not the only political party affected by the State of Emergency.

However, the garrulous UDM leader who recently hinted that he would abandon the party he helped formed after a controversial exit from the Peoples Movement for Democratic Change, the party he honed his political teeth, characteristically failed to explain how a termination of public emergency laws would undermine efforts to end the more than one year outbreak.

Yet, Mr. Bangura noted that the SLPP should realise the State of Public Health Emergency is meant for defaulters who would be caught violating regulations imposed by government, as the emergency laws were not being used as a tool to witch-hunt any political party but to eradicate the virus.

He further explained tremendous progress have been made in the fight against the killer Ebola virus disease due to the public emergency laws, adding that the country has only three Ebola cases nationwide in treatment centres, while fourteen patients are in holding centers.

“We are calling on every Sierra Leonean to support the State of Public Health Emergency for a final push to eradicate the virus, especially when the parliamentarians and also the president and government have asked All Political Parties Association (APPA) to go about their activities but must ensure it’s done within the confines of the laws,” he said.

The SLPP though, which is the sole opposition party in Parliament, and controls all Local Councils in the south-east of the country, had in a statement last week called on their parliamentarians not to vote for extending of the State of Public Emergency.

The erstwhile ruling party argues that the current ruling government has used the measures more as a political weapon than a viable instrument to end the more than one year old outbreak.

The party’s leadership also contends that the measures have helped exacerbate economic hardship caused by the Ebola outbreak on the local economy, which has suffered terribly, not least from the measures which have forced bars, restaurants and clubs to close by 10pm, while cinemas have remained closed indefinitely.

Civil Society groups and a cross-section of citizens have also lent their voice to the debate. Many think the State of Emergency should now be lifted citing Guinea and Liberia, the two other countries also fighting to end the outbreak in the Mano-River Union, where emergency laws have since been removed.

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