Since last year, Sierra Leone’s grand old party, the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) has been having political running battles with the ruling All Congress Party (APC) as the country readies to hold both presidential and parliamentary elections slated for November 12 this year. In what appears to be a vain bid to re-covet State House, the opposition has changed its tactics from berating all developmental efforts of the ruling government as being their initiatives to one of outright violence with a new culture of lawlessness and political brinkmanship.
It therefore becomes preposterous for the SLPP to choose Julius Maada Bio as their presidential flag bearer not because he possesses the leadership qualities of a statesman, but simply because of his checkered history of not just been an erstwhile militant, but his track record as a recidivist coupist who would use his militarism to unleash mayhem in a country recuperating from a deadly odd 11-year-old war.
Undoubtedly, the SLPP has assembled a bevy of “intellectuals” some with clouds of passport racketeering hanging on their heads that would hitherto use the unsuspecting Maada Bio as a front in manipulating him under their whims and caprices.
It is therefore least surprising that the first tactic of the Bio cabal and his cohorts was to trump up allegations of him being stoned and hounded in their strong-hold of support in the Southern headquarter town of Bo late last year and let loose rampaging youth who enjoyed field day setting houses on fire including the offices of the APC, stabbings and molestation of even innocent and unsuspecting apolitical bystanders.
As if that was the litmus test, within a couple of months, another ugly spectacle unfolded at Fourah Bay in Freetown during which newly convert to the APC, Lansana Fadika and his supporters were stabbed. The accused, SLPP’s Chairman for Constituency 104, Abdul Aziz Carew who reportedly feigned unconsciousness and hospitalized as a result was later on declared fit to stand trial. The aftermath was yet an ugly pastime in the civility of our national pride as the respectable Police doctor attached at Connaught hospital, Rashida Kamara received unprintable invectives from some irate SLPP supporters.
As the trial commences, the SLPP pinned their hopes for justice on lawlessness by invoking a political end game. They therefore transported as many supporters as they could and invariably unleashed them on the precincts of the law court that they employed one of the most mundane behaviors that the presiding magistrate, Komba Kamanda at one point had to take a recess with the ultimatum that proceedings could only resume if the mob crowd was tamed. The nagging question then is where is the rule of law for the likes of SLPP secretary-general, Sulaiman Banja Tejan-Sie, with all their legal background? Alternatively, is the new political reality of our democracy now hinges on troublemakers who would guise under politics to justify lawlessness thereby sending the rule of law in limbo?
Indeed, Sierra Leone’s democracy is once again on trial as the November 17 polls near. On trial partly because one would be bemused to learn that one of the intellectual handlers of Maada Bio, Dr. Abass Bundu could muster all the audacity he could and splatter a barrage of allegations on live national TV that the ruling APC government was (is) transporting voters from neighbouring Guinea. Dr. Bundu’s comments were eventually appreciated with a pinch of salt because he rather pretended to be oblivious of the fact that Sierra Leoneans have the constitutional right to travel from anywhere in the world to effectively participate in the democratization of their country through the exercise of their franchise.
It was therefore not surprising that Maada Bio too joined the bandwagon of his intellectual handlers in issuing yet a bale of allegations that the APC was transporting and renting houses for ex-combatants in their supposed strongholds in the East and southern parts of the country. What an alarmist way of practising politics in contemporary Sierra Leone!
From the foregoing, it appears that the politics of our country is now being reduced to the employment of Machiavellian tactics including the use of violence to cow voters from exercising their civic rights.
If the SLPP has chosen the path of militarism to regain power, then it is no novelty as the party has an infamous history of supporting coups. Historical evidence have it that when Sir Milton Margai passed away in 1964 and his brother, Albert Margai ushered in as the new Prime Minister, his rule was not just characterized by his personal extravagance, and for his sordid role as the chief master minder of Sierra Leone’s first ever military coup following his persuasion of the late Brigadier Lansana to stage a coup that ousted the All People’s Congress Party (APC) following latter’s victory in the 1967 elections.
As we strive to relinquish the sad chapters of our country due to the many political challenges we have endured as a people, the least one would want to hear is yet another threat to the internal cohesion of the state wherever it comes from.
And this is where the apparent threats issued by Maada Bio should not just be dismissed with the wave of a hand; recognizing that what late President Momoh dismissed as just “a fight over a stolen car” preceding the skirmishes of the first gun battle in Bomaru on that fateful day of March 23, 1991 ended up in producing antagonists like the Maada Bio’s amidst the vile human rights abuses and violations committed against innocent and unsuspecting civilians. Indeed, a word for the wise is sufficient.
By Abdulai Bayraytay in Toronto, Canada
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