VOXPOP: What Sierra Leoneans say about the ban on street rallies

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By Yusufu S. Bangura

On March 27, the Chairman of Political Parties Regulation Commission (PPRC) Abdulai M. Bangura together with heads of political parties ‘unanimously agreed’ to ban all forms of street rallies. They said political party  leaders should organize a town hall meeting in designated areas.

However, street rallies have been a tradition in Sierra Leone, but recently the world has moved from the trend of organizing street rallies where supporters of political parties would assemble, sing and dance on the right to move freely.

In this Report, Concord Times’ Yusufu S. Bangura last Friday took to the streets of Freetown to gauge the views of Sierra Leoneans on what they think about the ban on street rallies by PPRC.

Shaka Bangura, Mercury Retailer

As a citizen of the country, I  am not in favour of the decision made by PPRC because since I have knowledge about elections I have never heard of such, as street rally is meant for citizens to come out and throw their support for their candidates. It also sends a signal to the international community that citizens are happy or not happy with the present government, but if they have banned it, it will affect the campaign process.

I want PPRC to know that chaos do occur with or without street rallies, even in football there must be chaos, talk less of election. But that is why we have the security forces who are responsible for the protection of lives and properties so if they don’t want any chaos to occur there should be security personnel deployed in different areas for a peaceful atmosphere.

As for me I think they place a ban on street rallies because they don’t want the people to give their views on the current trend of the country. On the area of town hall meeting it does not make any sense because supporters will still come out and dance for their leader, so PPRC must allowed street rallies to go on.

Ramatu Conteh, Businesswoman

As a citizen, I do not have any much to say on the banning of street rallies because we don’t have the power to stop the government or PPRC not to take this decision, so as for me I will do what they say and I will not go to the street and dance for any political leader, but rather wait for the time of election and vote peaceful.

Abdulrahman Conteh, Driver

In my own view, there is no sense in banning street rallies as far as I am concerned there has never been a ban on rallies. So, if the current government knows they have work for the people, let them allow the people to show sign of appreciation by organizing rallies.

We don’t want PPRC to seize our democratic right by banning rallies, if they ban rallies we will not be able to give out our views because this is the only way we can express our views.  As am concern peaceful rally will not lead to any chaos so am pleading with PPRC to give us our freedom of assembling.

Kadiatu Kamara, Merchant in cosmetics

As a senior citizen of the country, I will firstly want to know how PPRC want political leaders to gather their supporters to tell them about their plans for the election because if they said no street rallies it will be difficult for leaders to pass on their messages.

I will also like to know if supporters are coming from their houses to attend the town meeting will they dance or work as if they have funeral because in any Africa country there must be street rallies, but if our country has ban street rallies what plan do the government have for us?

As for me, I do not feel happy for the banning of street rallies because that is time we will inform our leaders what we need as citizens and for them to know that they have strong support, town hall meeting will not be enough for supporters to gather in one location and listen to their leaders, so PPRC should allow us to carry on with our activities.

Nabieu Kamara, Student at IPAM

I am happy for the banning of street rallies as most times people misbehave in the street and most people  will use that day as an advantage to create problem like stealing, fighting among others which give the reason for business people to close their shops before the closing hours, so am happy for it.

Kadiatu Kamara, Trader

In my whole life I have never heard about banning of street rallies because we have got use to rallies, so I don’t want PPRC to seize our freedom as if we kids. I want PPRC to lift the ban on street rallies because that is the time we free our stress.

 I want Sierra Leoneans to act responsibly when the ban would be lifted on street rallies.

Mohamed Bangura, Dealer in electrical items

Since the days of Siaka Steven there have never been a ban on street rallies, but this is my first time to hear it so it’s a surprise to me which I do not support. In previous years, we used to have rallies but Pa Sheki will give strong warning to supporters not to fight or misbehave in the street during rallies.

I believe that politicians must be prepared to receive abusive language because there is no respect for them no matter who they are in society. Also political parties will not rally on the same date so PPRC must tell political leaders to advise their supporters not to create any violence.

Town hall meeting is a constrain for political leaders because they will not have enough vehicles to transport their supporters to attend meetings, but rather supporters will have to work in group with joy to attend the meeting because election is for the people to choose their leaders.

Tity Conteh, Orange Money Agent

As for me I support the decision taken by PPRC because bad guys who used to disturb our peaces will not have the chance again to disturb us. If someone knows he or she is not happy with the present condition of the country let that individual wait for the day of election to express their feeling.

I want everyone to focus on their business and pray for a peaceful election during and ask God for direction.

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