August 24, 2016 By Mohamed Massaquoi
Both the Minister of Internal Affairs and Director of Planning and Inter Agency Relations at the Office of National Security (ONS) have warned against the persistent invocation of Military Aid to Civil Power (MAC- P) by the government with the slightest hint of violence in the country, adding that it is the responsibility of the Sierra Leone Police to provide adequate internal security and not the military.
Retired Major Palo Conteh made the statement at a one-day conference organised by the West Africa Civil Society Forum, Sierra Leone Chapter, in collaboration with Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC), and the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) at Miatta Conference Centre in Freetown, themed ‘building tolerant society as bedrock for good governance.’
The workshop critically looked at national polarisation and politically motivated violence and impunity, which has become and major concern to the citizenry, and the role of the Sierra Leone Police in addressing some of these problems in the past five years.
Conteh told participants that as an ex-military officer he was not happy about the way and manner in which the military was being manipulated under the guise of MAC-P to address minor incidences that should be handled by the police. He thus urged the government to put strategies in place to ensure that the military is not overstretched.
“I am seriously concerned about the persistent use of MAC-P; I want to agree entirely with the civil society report that the military should not be overused,” he said.
Francis Langumba Keili, Director of Planning and Inter-Agency Relations at ONS, said they were trying their best as a security coordinating unit to maintain peace and stability in the country, adding that they were not oblivious of the fact that over the past years there had been criticisms levied against members of the security sector by the public by civil society.
He said he was part of the establishment of MAC-P in 200 to provide support to the internal security sector, adding that there was an unnecessary use of the military in the name of MAC-P.
“It is unfortunate that the SLPP and the APC [opposition and ruling parties respectively] are responsible for the atrocities, most of the recruitments for the police are done based on political lines. Our views on the recent violence are that the government should institute a judiciary inquiry and bring those responsible to book,” he said matter of factly.