Sierra Leone: APC supporter raped in Kailahun

Reports from Ngynahum village, Kailahun district Eastern Sierra Leone say a middle aged woman and a supporter of the opposition APC party has been gang raped by 5 men allegedly supporting the ruling SLPP party.

Several women’s rights groups in Sierra Leone have condemed this act of barbarism against an innocent woman.

Also, over 3,000 APC supporters have fled Kono to Masingbi to escape political violence.

“I must say I’m ashamed of how far people can go in the name of party politics” a rights activist said today in Freetown.

“The continued violence and abuse being perpetrated by some supporters of the SLPP against APC supporters and people from the North is unprecedented,” said a police officer.

He said there is fear everywhere and that the perpetration of acts of violence is happening with impunity.

“We will try our best, but to control the situation the SLPP executive must act now to stop the supporters,” he noted, adding that everyone is on edge.

Sierra Leone: If Voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal

By Abdulai Mansaray

A view on presidential elections and democracy

It is a very sad state of affairs that on the eve of our general elections in Sierra Leone, we are saddled with a series of constitutional crisis. This begs the question as to our propensity to attract chaos. It is unfortunate that since Ernest Koroma took over as the head of state, in spite of the good things he has done, the issue of the Sierra Leone constitution has always been central to most of the government’s undertakings.

One of the blue prints in the manifesto of his 2nd term in office was the setup of the Constitutional Review Committee. With the support of the UNDP, Ernest launched the committee in July 2013.
The objective of the constitutional review process was to fulfill the national commitment made in the Lomé Peace Agreement, and implement Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendation to further consolidate peace and strengthen the existing multi-party democracy to create an open and transparent society.

To all intents and purposes, we have been left with more questions than answers. After 5 years of toiling, it is ironic that we are still faced with the same constitutional debacle and not much to show for it. We have seen over the years that there have been lots of constitutional issues arising from our government’s interpretation or misinterpretations; take your pick. We saw how former VP Sam Sumana now turned presidential candidate, was unceremoniously disrobed of his emperor’s clothes. We saw how the issue of dual citizenship has continued to plague our electoral process.

These are just a few of the kind of gymnastics that have successfully distracted us from the everyday issues that matter. Issues like our educational, social, and economic and many other have been conveniently been swept under the carpet. Instead of grappling with our inherent economic malaise, which is the concomitant effect of our pervasive corruption, we have been side-tracked by avoidable distractions.

In Sierra Leone today, our constitution is fast becoming the ultimate tyranny. We are proud of our embryonic democracy, but we need to be aware that constitutional democracy is not a romantic notion. On the one hand, it is our defence against ourselves and on the other; it is the one enemy that can defeat us. But the greatest threat to our constitution is our own ignorance of it.

Sadly, our politicians are now spending more time on the steps of our law courts than our parliament. This is because, many have come to see and use our constitution as a mere lawyer’s document. It is now becoming a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they please.

There are other schools of thought who hold the notion that the people made the Constitution, and the people can unmake it. It is the creature of their will that lives only by their will.” But if the constitution is such, why do we bother having one. “A constitution is not the act of a government, but of a people constituting a government; and government without a constitution, is power without a right. Governments are instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity and happiness of the people; and not for the profit, honour, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men.
The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people; it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government – lest it will dominate our lives and interests. The constitution is a social contract, and its strength lies entirely in the determination of each citizen to defend it. It is only when every single citizen feels duty bound to do his share in this defence that the constitutional rights can be secured.

The constitution should be regarded as the natural cure of laxatives to purge popular or representative governments or ill administrations by change of men. Our constitution should not be interfered with at will or on a whim. We should maintain it as the only safeguard of our liberties. A president cannot defend a nation if he is not held accountable to its laws.
The sad reality is that many see our constitution as a whip for political gains. The chameleon nature of the whole concept is now bordering on the ridiculous. Here we have a government that allowed Sierra Leoneans with dual citizenships to hold prominent parliamentary positions for 10 years without any qualms. The issue of dual citizenship only became an issue just when another opposition candidate dared to exercise his rights through the ballot box. And that was enough to generate an avalanche of constitutional gymnastics; phew. As we go to press, there are several petitions against candidates pending; just on the eve of our general elections.

While the ruling APC party has filed for a constitutional interpretation of the rules governing citizenship and the right to contest elections, the defence counsels for Dr. Yumkella have in the meantime applied for the recusal of two of the judges on the case, resulting in an adjournment of the hearing. This sounds like Kenya all over again; but with a twist. To all intents and purposes, this case will be expected to last even beyond the general elections; irrespective of its outcome. So this show is sure to run from the ballot box to the gavel. And you wonder where all this mess is coming from? Try selective amnesia.
While these shenanigans are unfolding, there are many who feel that there is power with impunity at play here. They see a government that is so out of control. They see one that is so bloated and infested with fraud and deceit and corruption and abuse of power. But how do you hold your government for its deeds when there is a visible need for reflection and restraint of power? Over the years, the APC party has amassed a lot of power, thanks to the comatose state of the opposition parties. With power comes the abuse of power, and our liberties remain endangered today because of that abuse of power; which is the root of all evil. Our politicians know that this is a game of power. We know that no one seizes power with the intention to relinquish it, and we are witnessing at first hand the effects of the addictive nature of power; as the innocent are sacrificed on its altar to keep it or get it. In the meantime, lives have been senselessly lost, even before a ballot is cast.
But those who see power as the ultimate aphrodisiac must also remember that the steps of power are often steps on sand. Holding someone’s fear in your hand and showing it to them is not power. And power without compassion is the worst kind of evil. In Sierra Leone today, power has become the measure of social merit and achievement; hence its propensity to attract the corruptible. But we know that nothing unmasks a man like his use of power; for it will intoxicate the best hearts. We have seen over a 10 year period how people have morphed from Salone Messiah to God help us. But as we all know, Power has only one duty — to secure the social welfare of the People.

So as we go to the polls on Wednesday, the hope against hope is that it will be FREE, FAIR and PEACEFUL. There is a lot at stake here, and it is not surprising that the International Community is taking a keen interest in the process. We have a golden opportunity to showcase our country to the world community. We have this opportunity to show that we have finally moved on from our history of a decade long barbarity to one of constitutional decency. The rallies have been concluded and the atmosphere of festivities has been appreciated. But as we roll our sleeves to vote on 7 March, lets us all remember that there is only ONE MAMA SALONE, not for the few but FOR ALL.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter (M. L. King).

With a busy election schedule, Africa needs a reversal of the old order

The Conversation

DRC’s President Joseph Kabila. Time to step aside. Reuters/Kenny Katombe
Version 2
 Author: Ph.D. Candidate & Lecturer in Political Science-International Relations, Sciences Po – USPC
Disclosure statement Mohamed M Diatta does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Partners: Université Sorbonne Paris Cité provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation FR. Sciences Po  provides funding as a member of The Conversation FR.

The winds of change may blow in several directions across Africa this year as a host of countries prepare for elections. But a change in power isn’t always synonymous with change in governance. In Africa, very often, a new face in power doesn’t signal change of the system of governance.

The continent is set for a busy 2018 electoral year. In the past presidential, legislative, or local elections, or a combination, have had a destabilising if not devastating effect due to pre and post-election transparency issues and accompanying protests, violence and political instability. But when conducted well, elections have also brought hope for a better future. Ghana and Benin are good examples.

The year ahead won’t be any different. On the one hand the expected end of Joseph Kabila’s tenure in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) might bring momentous change to the country. On the other it’s more difficult to foresee better days for South Sudan. Others might also depart before elections.

Early departures?

All eyes are on Pretoria where the ruling African National Congress has asked President Jacob Zuma to resign following the election of Cyril Ramaphosa as ANC president and South Africa’s next president. As of February 13 he was showing no signs of doing so.

And seven years after the Jasmine Revolution that ousted the regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisians are back on the streets. The wave that took away Ben Ali now threatens to sweep the government of Beji Caid Essebsi.

Presidential seats at stake

The DRC has added more instability to its already complex situation. The country has been embroiled in a political and institutional crisis since Joseph Kabila extended his term in office, after failing to amend the constitution to remove the disposition preventing him from running for a third term. He has twice postponed presidential elections, despite signing the December 2016 agreement whose main clause was to have presidential and legislative elections held by December 2017.

Kabila’s failure to hold elections by the December 2017 deadline has led to mounting national protests, which the regime has crushed. Increasing national and international pressure might see Kabila out in 2018 unless he amends the constitution.

In Cameroon, Paul Biya, 85, in power since 1982, should be up for reelection in October. Although there is no indication that he will relinquish power, he has faced dissensions and separatist claims from so-called anglophone Cameroon and is believed to have ill-health. The current lack of succession plans if Biya does not run, leaves room for speculation and uncertainty.

In Madagascar, concern reigns in the run-up to the presidential election at the end of this year, which should see incumbent Hery Rajaonarimampianina face up his two predecessors Marc Ravalomanana and Andry Rajoelina. The island, with a tumultuous history, has been prey to institutional instability since 2001. There are fears this will happen again.

Three countries, South Sudan, Libya and Mali, plagued by instability for some years, are expected to hold presidential elections this year. Strong uncertainties prevail in South Sudan and Libya where negotiations for peaceful settlements have yielded little tangible results. In Mali the government doesn’t control large parts of its territory and is not immune to terrorist attacks.

No surprise will come from Cairo where, Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, will certainly be reelected president of a country he now controls unchallenged.

Longevity and power sharing dilemmas

In West Africa, Togolese Faure Gnassingbé appears as a poor student in the field of democracy. He came to power in 2005 in a quasi-dynastic political ‘transition’, replacing his father, General Gnassingbe Eyadema, who had been in power for 38 years. Reelected in 2015, he has, since August 2017, faced massive and sustained popular protests demanding institutional reforms and the end of his family’s 50-year rule.

The Economic Community of West African States is trying, through negotiations, to restore calm. An uneasy situation is emerging given that Faure is the current chairman of the organization until June 2018. But if he completely loses the support of his peers, he might be on his way out. Legislative elections are scheduled to take place by July.

Like Togo, Gabon experienced a similar ‘transition’ from father Omar Bongo, who died in power in 2009 after 42 years of rule, to his son Ali Bongo, who replaced him that year. Once a haven of peace in an unstable Central African region, Gabon has tumbled into a serious crisis since the highly contested presidential election in 2016 which was marred by widespread fraud and deadly repression. Jean Ping, leader of the opposition and former chairperson of the African Union Commission, continues to claim victory.

The hardening of the Libreville regime has recently resulted in a constitutional amendment that the opposition characterises as a ‘monarchisation’ of power. Legislative elections planned this year will certainly be a turning point for the country.

In Guinea Bissau, the power of José Mario Vaz is in troubled waters, with the appointment of a seventh prime minister since 2014. The opposition has decried the president for overstepping his constitutional prerogatives by monopolising power, in violation of the Conakry agreement signed in 2016, under the aegis of the regional west African body.

Vaz runs the risk of sanctions, in which case he would definitively lose the support of the organisation and the protection of the regional troop deployment. This would precipitate his departure and could plunge the country into chaos, in a state that has mostly known military coups and instability. Legislative elections are expected to take place this year.

In Chad, the crisis that has affected resource-dependent countries has plagued the economy. This is coupled with Idris Deby’s stronghold on power and his repressive methods. Despite facing civil unrest, he is unlikely to be shaken even though the country is expected to hold legislative elections this year.

Ghana setting the pace

Over the past 20 years, since the John Kofi Agyekum Kufuor presidency, Ghana has epitomised democracy south of the Sahara (aside from South Africa). Its institutional stability and peaceful transitions of power are commendable.

What the continent needs most are strong institutions, which will only come about with a regeneration of its leadership as well as its political class. This renewal must be rooted in a paradigm shift as embodied with determination, class and panache by Ghanaian president Nana Akufo Addo.

Article first published by The Conversation

We are making a President, not school prefect …says APC Campaign Chairman

By Shifu Fadda

Campaign Chairman for the All People’s Congress Party (APC), John B. Sisay told supporters in Gbamgbaya Community, Imperi Chiefdom – Bonthe District that they should ‘vote in a president and not a school prefect’.

Chairman John B. Sisay, addressing supporters

Chairman John B. Sisay, addressing supporters

Sisay who was speaking during the party’s campaign launch over the weekend pointed out that he is not a stranger to the challenges faced by the people, and assured that in a couple of weeks’ time some of their problems will be addressed.

“APC is the only political party that is capable to transform your lives,” He said and added that Dr. Samura Kamara, the APC Presidential Candidate has the good heart to develop the country when elected as president.

“He is willing to respond to your poverty situation and can respond to your requests to bring development to your lives,” Sisay said.

Isatu Hariette Caulker, Parliamentary Candidate for Constituency 092 predicted that APC will surely win the coming elections and further notes that this will surely transform the lives of people in the constituency.

“Gone are the days when APC refers to the South and East as a top-up. This time we will give our full support,” she assured.

The APC Presidential Candidate, Dr. Samura Matthew Wilson Kamara said the incoming APC Administration is mainly for the grassroots. He noted that APC is purely for women and youth, which is why specific development programmes will be implemented to ensure their development.

“The difference between APC and other political parties is that it is a grassroots party. You should vote in the winning team for assured prosperity,” the APC Frontman said, and went on to say the people need careful attention which is why the APC will never forget them.

He admonished those who were not lucky to have an APC symbol to support their comrades carrying party symbols as there are greater opportunities ahead.

Dr. Kamara’s visit to Imperi Chiefdom came after he successfully crisscrossed the riverine communities in Bonthe District. “I saw courageous people who can contribute to economic development. My government will not leave them behind in the development of the country,” he said.


APC presidential candidate assures Pujehun District: This is the time for Pujehun to develop under my government

By Fadda Bakish

Presidential Candidate for the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) Party, Dr. Samura Matthew Wilson Kamara, informed supporters over the weekend in Pujehun that the District has a special place in his heart and he will do everything humanly possible to transform the district.

Dr Samura Kamara

Dr. Samura Kamara addressing supporters

“This is the time for Pujehun to develop under my government,” he assured, noting further that he will bring additional development to where President Koroma’s government has stopped.

“Our manifesto is for the common man not for the rich,” he noted and added that “you should vote for all APC Candidates in your district for greater development in the near future.

The APC Flagbearer ends his successful first visit to the South and East of the country over the weekend where thousands of supporters came out with their local musical instruments, singing and dancing and pledging their support for the party in the coming elections.

Some of the Towns and Villages visited in Pujehun District include Banmdajuma Sowa, Potoru, Pehala, Bumpe Peri, Blama Massaqoi, Massam Kpaka, Sammelan etc.

APC’s Campaign Chairman, John Sisay described Dr. Samura Kamara as a great blessing that requires the support of the people to transform the country.

Melvin Rogers, APC’s Candidate for Pujehun District Chairmanship described the district as a new ground for the APC after the party has successfully implemented lots of development projects that are benefiting the people.

“We want the party to continue with its development activities, which is why we are giving our fullest support,” he revealed.

Rogers, before now was a Senior Journalist working as Station Manager at Radio Wanjei in Pujehun, he served as Assistant Secretary-General in the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) before his defection to the APC where he was awarded the ticket to contest for District Council Chairmanship.

“Since I was born I have never seen such developments from any other government than the APC,” Rogers said, and went on to name good roads, good drinking water, electricity and other development projects implemented by the current government as clear indication that it is only the APC that is capable to transform Sierra Leone.

“Dr. Samura Kamara will definitely have the highest votes from Pujehun District in the South. The APC will surely win the coming elections,” he assured. He went further to state that “With humility, I am the next District Council Chairman in Pujehun. APC gave symbols to the finest families in the district.” He thanked the people for their love and encouragement were given to him and assured them that he will take Pujehun to a glorious level after winning the elections.


Former football star George Weah has been elected as Liberia’s president

Former football star George Weah has been elected as Liberia’s president with nearly all ballots from Tuesday’s run-off vote counted, according to the BBC.


Mr Boakai conceded victory and phoned Mr Weah to congratulate him.

Mr Weah, a former footballer for Paris St-Germain (PSG), AC Milan, Chelsea and Manchester City, will succeed Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first elected female president, in Liberia’s first democratic handover in decades.

“My fellow Liberians, I deeply feel the emotion of all the nation,” Mr Weah wrote on Twitter after the results were announced.

Weah also noted, I am deeply grateful to my family, my friends, and my loyal supporters who contributed to our campaign during this extremely long election season. We are on the verge of making history for our people.