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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Tonkolili bye-election violence: UN Rep, PPRC and ECSL call for investigation

By Alfred Koroma

The UN Resident Coordinator, Babatunde Ahonsi has called for investigation into the violence that occurred in Tonkolili District between the two main political parties Sierra Leone.

Bye- election campaign in Constituency 056 in Tonkolili culminated into personal attacks between supporters of the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and the main opposition All People’s Congress (APC) ahead of the bye-election for Member of Parliament, leaving people injured and property destroyed.

Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) and Electoral Commission Sierra Leone (ECSL)  have also called on the leadership of the Sierra Leone Police to expedite the investigations of the 7th June event.   

The bye-election is contested by Tholley Foyoh of SLPP and Jawah Sesay representing the APC. The election which is scheduled to take place on Saturday 25th June will place either of the parties on a narrow majority in Parliament as both parties currently operate on an equal margin with 58 seats each.    

What sparked the violence on the day scheduled for APC campaign rally remains unclear, but members of the main opposition party accused the police of precipitating the violence.

Samura Kamara, 2018 Presidential candidate of APC and still a key choice of party for 2023 election was going to join the campaign of their candidates Jawah Sesay when police stopped his convoy at Mathura Checkpoint, citing security reasons for doing so.

On his Twitter page, the 2018 APC presidential hopeful posted photos of his encounter with the police saying: “A big standoff at the Mathura checkpoint. I am being stopped from campaigning in Constituency 056 and I am being threatened by police and OSD.” He however later got his way through.

Some members of the ruling SLPP have on the other hand accused the opposition of employing violent tactics in their campaign to win a seat they lost in 2018.

Constituency 056 is based in the political stronghold of the main opposition, APC. But until declared vacant, the Parliamentary Seat of the Constituency was occupied by the ruling SLPP which secured the seat in the 2018.

The seat was declared vacant in March after Hon. Alhaji Musa Foray Jalloh who defeated the APC candidate in 2018 became Paramount Chief of Sambaia Chiefdom and disqualified from occupying the Parliamentary seat by the Court verdict.

The Bye-election to elect new MP for the Constituency is expected on the 25th of this month but campaign rallies for the election has resurfaced the old political feud between the two main political parties in the country. 

UN in Sierra Leone has condemned the violence and called for prompt investigation of the incident that occurred on the 7th of this month during the APC rally.  The organization also calls for dialogue between political parties, to resolve political differences and says it stands ready to support such dialogue.

In a joint press statement, PPRC and ECSL have banned all political parties’ rallies for the bye election, effective yesterday.

However, ECSL says the campaign calendar it issued remains valid on the condition that Parties can only now campaign on their respective dates in Town Halls, Barrays or open field with 24hours notice to the Police before each event takes place.

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