Breaking entrenched barriers to become MP far away from home


By Ahmed Sahid Nasralla (De Monk)

In the suburbs of Kailahun District, Eastern Sierra Leone, people of all ages and titles, including from the surrounding villages, trooped in small groups to the community barray (hall) at Ngolahun village, Peje Bongre chiefdom, for what seemed to be a very important meeting.


That was Constituency 010 and the meeting was about politics. The Kailahun Women In Governance Network (KWiGN), with support from Irish Aid and SEND Sierra Leone, was behind the organization of the meeting to present a woman candidate to the people for the position of Member of Parliament for the constituency come 2023 national elections.

The woman, Zainab Kama Braima, actually contested for the same position in the 2018 national elections as an Independent candidate after she was denied symbol under her Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP).


“We fought for a woman (Zainab) to become Member of Parliament for this constituency but we did not succeed. Instead, the SLPP gave the symbol to a man and you (the people) voted for him. We respect your decision. However, our candidate did not lose and that’s why we are presenting her again. We are not waiting until 2023; the work starts now,” said Theresa Satta Garber, Secretary General of KWiGN, while explaining the purpose of the meeting. KWiGN is a consortium of 106 women groups with a membership of over 5400 women across the 14 chiefdoms of Kailahun district.


Zainab’s candidacy in the 2018 elections attempted to break very strong traditional, tribal and regional barriers that have shackled the politics of Sierra Leone for decades.

Firstly, she’s the first female in the history of Peje Bongre chiefdom to contest for the MP position; the men considered that as an affront. Secondly, she’s not a native of the chiefdom and doesn’t speak their language and, thirdly, she hailed from the Northern Region of Sierra Leone. The people considered her as a stranger; despite being the wife of their son.


“The odds were literally against me,” recalled Zainab. “I was insulted and humiliated. I faced utter discrimination as if I was not a Sierra Leonean. But I stood firm to prove a point. I feel no wounds and bear no grudges. I think the mistake they (the people) made was to allow their son to marry a Loko woman (laughed). And I am proud to say I am a Loko.”


Inspired by this experience, Zainab’s determination is to ensure her footprints are all over the chiefdom to which she will proudly point come 2013.

She has constructed a bridge in Jui community while a community health centre in Foindu Mawei and a Barry in Fowaya are under construction. She is also supporting eight community health centres in both Peje Bongre and Penguia chiefdoms with essential drugs and other medical items: in Ngolahun, Pujehun, Mamboma, Grima, Gbahama, Woroma, Sandaru and Manowa.

In addition, Fowaya and Jui communities have come together to do a self-help project on swamp rice cultivation with support from Zainab.


Mid this week, Zainab and her husband visited all communities in order to ascertain the status and progress of the various projects and engaged with the people to jointly plan the next phase of the work after the raining season.

“This is our community; whether we win or lose we have an obligation to give back to help develop these places and ensure a better life for our people,” said the husband Keikura Braima, an international civil servant who has been very supportive of his wife’s ambition.

SLPP patron

The couple have been married for 30 years now and have three children, two girls and a boy. During the 2018 elections, Keikura said he traveled about 25 times from abroad to attend and support campaign activities of her wife back home.

“I actually presented her officially to my people (and my party the SLPP), and kindly requested them to support her candidacy,” explained Keikura.

Describing himself as a Patron of the SLPP and up-to-date with his membership dues (together with his wife) Keikura claimed the awarding of the party’s symbol for constituency 010 was unfair.

 “We were disappointed, but that will not change our membership. We are SLPP today, tomorrow and forever. My wife decided to go independent to prove a point,” he said.


Adding to Zainab’s hopes of becoming the next MP of Constituency 010 is the Paramount Chief of Peje Bongre chiefdom, Pejehunkpoh Baion, who has been impressed with her engagement with the people after the 2018 elections.

“As a development oriented leader I am more than happy with Zainab’s development interventions in my chiefdom,” said PC Baion. “Yes she did not get the party’s symbol in 2018 and she faced a lot of challenges when she decided to contest as an independent, but I want to assure her that we’ll not allow any unfair means of awarding symbols in my chiefdom come 2023.”

He added: “Going forward, I think we should encourage all political parties to always engage with the chiefs, as custodians and the people’s representatives, before awarding symbols to potential candidates. We know our people better than anyone else.”


For Zainab, the 2018 elections was an eye-opener.

“We will not have understood the deep rooted issues if we had not come in,” she noted. “Some things need to change. They should not remain the same. Women don’t have power in this constituency. It’s a taboo for a woman to aspire for power here. We need to change that.”

A private entrepreneur in the construction sector, Zainab was born in Kalangba, Makeni, Bombali District, Northern Sierra Leone.

“I have a vision and a program for this constituency. I will not abandon that because I didn’t win an election,” she said.

IMF provides another US$21.62 million for Sierra Leone after Executive Board Review

The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has enables the immediate disbursement of US$21.62 million, bringing total disbursements under the arrangement to US$43.25 million.

The Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair, Tao Zhang

The authorization was made after the Executive Board of the IMF completed the first review of Sierra Leone’s performance under the program supported by an Extended Credit Facility (ECF) on June 28, 2019.

The Executive Board approved the authorities’ request for a waiver of non-observance of a performance criterion. Sierra Leone’s 43-month ECF arrangement for US$172.1 million or 60 percent of the country’s quota at the time of approval of the arrangement was approved on November 30, 2018.

The government’s reform agenda, supported by the ECF, aims to create fiscal space for priority spending by strengthening revenue mobilization, containing current spending and improving the efficiency of public investment.

The Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair, Tao Zhang, said performance under the ECF-supported program has been satisfactory in the face of a challenging economic environment but noted that progress on structural measures has been slower than anticipated, although the government remains firmly committed to their reform agenda.

Zhang also noted, “Securing fiscal sustainability and creating space for priority spending will be crucial for tackling Sierra Leone’s development needs. The authorities have made commendable progress since the start of the program, both in mobilizing revenue and taking a cautious approach to expenditure. Going forward, durably higher revenue will be essential to boosting social spending and investing in infrastructure—key goals of the government’s new National Development Plan.

“The authorities’ more cautious medium-term fiscal approach is appropriate given fiscal risks. Managing fiscal risks expeditiously will provide more certainty about the space available for priority spending. In this regard, quick actions to complete the arrears stocktaking and the diagnostic of state-owned banks will be particularly important.

“Structural reforms are a central component of the authorities’ fiscal strategy. Achieving the program’s revenue mobilization goals will entail continued tax policy and administration reforms. Improving public financial management will help control expenditure and avoid the emergence of new arrears, while reorienting spending to priorities with clear economic or social returns. Efforts to develop a Medium-Term Debt Management Strategy will help to better manage fiscal risks.

“Monetary policy remains appropriately focused on reducing inflation to single digits over the medium-term. Progress toward developing indirect instruments will, over time, improve policy effectiveness. Enhancing exchange rate flexibility and reserve buffers will be vital to boost the economy’s resilience to external shocks.

“Continued reforms to strengthen the Bank of Sierra Leone’s governance will be critical for the institution’s accountability and operational effectiveness. In this spirit, finalizing the new central bank law and the recently completed forensic audit were important milestones. Quickly acting on both will help advance the BSL’s reform efforts.”

Sierra Leone: Blaming rape victims betrays women

By Alpha Bedoh Kamara

The public statement by Sierra Leone minister of Basic and Secondary Education, Alpha Timbo, that women sometimes are responsible when raped is a deliberate act by the minister to cast aspersion on women’s stories of rape in the country.

Timbo says some women are to blame

“Sometimes the women are to blame. They provoke the men to rape them,” Alpha Timbo said at a UNFPA event in Freetown.

Unfortunately, the statement by Timbo is being downplayed by some sectors in society as a mistake and something not to be taken seriously despite the the high rate of rape cases and sexual abuse in the country. In February this year President Julius Maada Bio declared rape and sexual violence a national emergency and called for an end to the culture of “indifference” and impunity surrounding it.

The president’s announcement follows a national outcry over the prevalence of sexual violence in the West African nation, where recorded cases of sexual and gender-based violence doubled last year, reaching 8,505 in a population of 7.8 million, according to police statistics.

Timbo’s statement does not only creates a sense of fear but also bringing to mind memories of sexual abuse perpetrated against women and girls during the 11 years of war in which rape was used as a weapon.

Must women and girls always be on their guard to fight off rapists or its the responsibility of the government to ensure the protection of every girl child and woman in the country? Sierra Leoneans want answers.

The widespread and systematic use of rape and other sexual violence during the ten-year civil war in Sierra Leone is documented in a new Human Rights Watch report released on January 16, 2003.

The 75-page report, Sierra Leone: Sexual Violence Widespread in War, states, “‘We’ll Kill You If You Cry:’ Sexual Violence in the Sierra Leone Conflict,” presents evidence of horrific abuses against women and girls in every region of the country by the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF), as well as other rebel, government and international peacekeeping forces.

“In this report, we have documented unimaginable atrocities against women in Sierra Leone,” said Peter Takirambudde, executive director of the Africa division at Human Rights Watch. “The people responsible for these crimes must be held accountable.” Takirambudde also said the victims of sexual violence urgently need help to regain their health and reintegrate into their communities.

According to the AfricaRenewal, The Sierra Leone civil war was known internationally for its horrific atrocities — especially the widespread amputations of villagers’ limbs. But until recently, little attention was devoted to abuses directed specifically against women. “Violence against women was not just incidental to the conflict,” Ms. Nowrojee told Africa Renewal, “but was routinely used as a tool of war. Sexual violence was used in a widespread and systematic way as a weapon, and women were raped in extraordinarily brutal ways.”

The statement by the minister of education speaks volume about the level of acceptance in government circles the suffering and abuse women are going through in the country. Sexual abuse and violations are committed with impunity and victims left to leak their wounds and suffering in silence, with tears and shame their only solace.

Unfortunately for women in the country the Government of Sierra Leone is yet to make a statement regarding the minister’s senseless pronouncement and we are still unable to understand why the statement was made in the first place, only if one may assume, is the minister emboldening perpetrators of sexual crimes in the country?

Society For Democratic Initiatives (SDI) Calls For Democratic Policing Under The New Direction

By Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai

On the 4th April, 2018 President Julius Maada Bio assumed the mantle of leadership from former President Ernest Bai Koroma as President of the Republic of Sierra Leone.

Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai

In his party’s New Direction manifesto, he promised a New Direction for Sierra Leone as a united, peaceful, progressive, dynamic, confident, enterprising and happy nation where the people have unlimited access to jobs, food, education and health services and where there is equal justice and equal opportunity for all. 

Twelve Months on, there have been instances involving the Sierra Leone Police and the general  public which hinge on the manner in which they have been discharging their constitutional mandate. Today’s ideal is “democratic policing.”

This means, broadly, a Police force that is publicly accountable, subject to the rule of law, respectful of human dignity and that intrudes into citizens’ lives only under certain limited circumstances.

It is on this basis that as an Institution that has worked extensively on human rights and democratic good governance in Sierra Leone since its inception in 2003; and has engaged with Sierra Leone authorities on a range of issues, we would therefore like to take this opportunity to raise with the issues that require President Maada Bio and his new government’s urgent attention.

On this, we want to bring to his attention that the Sierra Leone Police should be mindful of the fact that the right of Freedom to Peaceful Assembly and Association can be exercised by individuals, groups and associations. Participation in peaceful assemblies helps ensure that people have the opportunity to express opinions they hold in common with others and supports dialogue within civil society and among civil society, political leaders and government, as well as being important for the full enjoyment of other Human Rights.

Mr. President Sir, the restriction on the freedom of association creates a chilling effect on people and limits their ability to exercise their Right to freedom of peaceful assembly. There is a justifiable culture of fear in Sierra Leone because people know that if they come out to protest, they will be intimidated by the police in one way or another and it is unlikely that anyone will stand up for them. 

The right to freedom of peaceful assembly, together with the closely related rights to freedom of Association and Freedom of Expression, is enshrined in human rights treaties to which Sierra Leone is a party, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Africa Charter and the constitution of Sierra Leone explicitly provide for the Right to the Freedom of Assemble which include the Right to protest. Member states to these treaties have an obligation to respect, protect, promote and fulfill these rights, that is, to ensure that their  own agents do not violate these rights further that no restrictions are imposed on them other than those which are demonstrably necessary and proportionate for a legitimate purpose permitted under international law; to protect the exercise of these rights against interference by third parties; and to ensure that individuals within their jurisdiction are able to exercise these rights in practice.
It will interest you to again note that the Sierra Leone Police have used lethal and excessive force to disperse protests over the past 10 years with impunity. This approach limits the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and creates a chilling effect, with people reluctant to exercise this right due to fear of intimidation and violence 

SDI is of the view that democratic policing should be viewed as a process and not an outcome. Societies experience a continual tension between the desire for order and liberty. There is a paradox in the fact that a democratic society needs protection both by police and from the police. Given the constitutional mandates of Police in democratic societies, citizens must continually ask “how efficient do we want police to be and under what conditions are the police discharging their responsibilities?
Democracy, whether viewed as a process or an end condition, is defined by broad values involving participation and formal rules. But for most persons most of the time, these are removed from daily life. That is not true for the police, the agency of government that citizens are most likely to see and have contact with.

All democratic societies use police to control crime and to contribute to public order (e.g., mediating and arbitrating disputes, regulating traffic and helping in emergencies). However, the organizational conditions under which police operate, the means they use and the ends they seek vary greatly between democratic and non-democratic societies, even as there are overlapping areas involving the control function of policing
One element in defining a democratic society is a police force that:1) is subject to the rule of law embodying values respectful of human dignity, rather than the wishes of a powerful leader or party 2) a police can intervene in the life of citizens only under limited and carefully controlled circumstances and 3) is publicly accountable

On Tuesday 17th July 2018, the Executive Director of Native Consortium – a civil society activist Mr. Edmond Abu was invited by the Sierra Leone Police to give an account of a peaceful protest he intended to stage over the removal of fuel subsidies which consequently led to the increase of fuel product prices in Sierra Leone from Le. 6,000 to Le.8, 000 
His Excellency, SDI fully believes that citizens have the fundamental human right to protest on government policies without any limitation or hindrance from the Police as provided by the 1991 Constitution Section 26 (1) which states “Except with his own consent, no persons shall be hinder in the enjoyment of his freedom of assembly and association, that is to say, his right to assembly freely and associate with other persons and in particular to form or belong to any political party, trade unions, or other economic, social or professional associations, national or International, for the protection of his interest”

Similarly, an opposition politician who is the Leader of Alliance Democratic Party, Mr. Mohamed Kamarainba Mansaray was again invited to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) for allegedly speaking his mind on radio and television interviews he granted to Radio Democracy Good Morning Salone program and the Africa Young Voices (AYV) respectively.
As a democratic state, free speech is guaranteed which is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or a community to articulate their opinions and ideas without fear of retaliation, censorship, or sanction. The term “freedom of expression” is sometimes used synonymously but includes any act of seeking, receiving, and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used.

Freedom of expression is recognized as a human right under article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and recognized in international human rights law in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 19 of the UDHR of which Sierra Leone is a party thus states that “everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference” and “everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice”

It is important for the Sierra Leone Police and Public officials to note that “Freedom of expression…is applicable not only to information of ideas that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive or as a matter of indifference, but also to those that offend, shock, or disturb the state or any sector of the population”.
It is on this basis that SDI strongly condemns the actions of the Sierra Leone Police and also notes that individuals have the right to express their opinions with regards the state and on government policies. Government in turn has the mandate to correct any information which they deem as inaccurate or misleading rather than to arrest or invite citizens to the Police for expressing their fundamental rights

We believe that it is government’s responsibility to protect the universal rights and freedoms of all Sierra Leoneans and foreign nationals living in Sierra Leone. As the fountain of honor, the President wields great influence in ensuring that the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) respects and enforces the rights and freedoms embodied in both part III of the 1991 Constitution as well as international human rights instruments. What he says in support of rights and freedoms can have significant influence in consolidating democratic policing.

We therefore urge the President and his government to make these issues a priority. We divided our recommendations on each subject into those that can have near-immediate impact on the human rights situation of large numbers of people, and those that will require longer-term commitment of political will and resources; There should be robust engagement between Sierra Leone police and the communities they serve around the policies and priorities of policing.

• Police actions should be guided by rules and policies that are transparent and formulated with input from the public
• The Sierra Leone Police should develop and use sound metrics of success that encompass all of the goals of policing, including community trust.
• The Sierra Leone Police should ensure they adhere to conventions and treaties signed by the government of Sierra Leone on behalf of its people 
• The responsibility of the police is to protect lives and properties and also provide security for peaceful protests when the need arises 
In anticipation of your usual cooperation, we thank the President in advance for taking robust action on this all important issue

Sierra Leone’s main opposition APC party boycotts State Opening by the President

All 63 Members of Parliament of Sierra Leone’s main opposition APC party have staged a walkout of the House minutes before the State Opening by the President.

Some of them carried placards demanding the dropping of election petitions against some of their MPs . In April of last year the High Court of Sierra Leone granted an interim injunction restraining ten elected Members of Parliament representing the main opposition All Peoples Congress (APC) from taking up their seat in Parliament ahead of the elections of the Speaker and his deputy this morning.

The affected MPs include the running mate of defeated APC presidential aspirant Dr. Samura Kamara, Hon. Chernor Manju Bah of Constituency 126, Serajin Rawlings-Kamara of Constituency 117, Ahmed Mansaray of Constituency 121, Osman Timbo of Constituency 130 and Kadiatu Davis.

Sierra Leone: My humble words for the Sierra Leone Peoples Party

Dear brother SLPP

It is over a year since the family gave you responsibility to take care of the household in the hope that the wheels of development will take another positive turn for everyone in the family and I am optimistic you are working hard to make that possible.

It is also my hope that everyone will support you in fighting corruption, be tolerant to others with different views and political affiliations and put the family first in our differing views about the development in the family.

President Julius Maada Bio: Sierra Leoneans want answers to the high standard of living

Unfortunately, developing trends are indicating an unstable progress in the family’s drive for sustainable development, cohesion and peace. Our story has always been a challenging one and is still being the same sad story with little to cheer about, but I believe we could change the narrative to that of better affordable public health care, standard educational institutions, enabling market and job opportunities, effective accountability and transparency of all public institutions, and adherence to the democratic tenets, among others.

I could sense your frustration in your determination to make things work, but I also assume, as it has often been the case with brother APC, some of the men and women you rely on to row the boat seems preoccupied with party politics and time-wasting propaganda instead of focusing on governance. We have you now at the helm of the family and it is my hope that you break the vicious cycle of politics that has made us one of the poorest families.

The broken system has caused an atmosphere of endemic corruption, violations, and the blatant disregard of the rule of law. Today, our young aren’t proud about the family because of the failure of the leaders to own to their responsibility – too much corruption in the public service sector.

Brother SLPP, you need everyone onboard to make your dream a reality. Today people are crying and blaming you for the high cost of living and I do believe you are also not please about the development and might have summoned meetings of few friends of yours to explain the reason for the hardship ‘Gron dry’ problem.

I also believe you would want to wake up in the morning and see everyone in the family happy, such were the expectations of your predecessor; but the dreams are farfetched from the reality because of the endemic hurdles caused by political interference in the public service sector. I could understand your frustration, especially having always to go public to clarify sensitive statements by your children. I also could understand why they have so much energy; but they need to slow down and be accountable when making public statements.

Your promise has always been to do the right thing for the family and I still hope you will do right, now that you are responsible for the food and how it is shared in the house. You have the power to direct the processes of governance, protect and uphold democratic principles, protect the family and ensure peaceful coexistence. Yet the songs are still sad and the children and women are crying.

But I am optimistic the story will be better if all of us see beyond political party lines, tribe, and region and work toward the single goal of making the family a better place. You could break the cycle by being the big brother of every one by engaging the various stakeholders from all walks of life, regions and tribes, for the common goal of working together for better healthcare, standard education, and jobs opportunities.

I am not the only one who believes you could do it. Everyone in the family believes in you and voted you into office for a better Sierra Leone.

Yours Sincerely

 Alpha B. Kamara



The Secretariat of the Commissions of Inquiry wishes to inform the public that the Commissions will commence public hearing in January 2019.
The Commission of Inquiry will implement a key manifesto promise of His Excellency the president Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio, to combat corruption, bring accountability in governance and foster economic growth for the people of Sierra Leone.

The secretariat therefore wishes to encourage members of the public to support, assist and own the process as the “THE PEOPLE’S COMMISSION”. You can support the process by providing relevant information relating to the assets of persons who were President, Vice Presidents, Ministers, Deputy Ministers, and other public officials who served in government between 2007 and 2018.

Assets for which the Secretariat seeks information on include: lands, houses, bank accounts, shares in companies, cars and any other property of value. The commission Secretariat will also appreciate any other information regarding mismanagement and misconduct in their official functions.

In view of the above, members of the public are encouraged to own and assist the process by providing relevant information regarding the assets of public officials and pecuniary resources while in office during the said period to the following email addresses:

    Alternatively, members of the public who reside in Freetown could take relevant information regarding the assets of public officials and pecuniary resources or other information regarding mismanagement and misconduct in their official functions to the Commissions Secretariat at the LAW OFFICERS’ DEPARTMENT, FIRST FLOOR OF GUMA BUILDING, LAMINA SANKOH STREET, FREETOWN.      
  3. For members of the public residing in the provinces, who hold relevant information that will aid the work of “the peoples’ Commission of Inquiry”, are encouraged to call or text your name, address and telephone contact to the following numbers and the Secretariat of the Commissions will get in touch with you to obtain your information.
  4. +232 75 011982
  5. +232 76 649647
    The Commission wishes to assure potential witnesses that their identity would be protected.
  6. Signed by
    The Secretariat of the Commission
    Ministry of Justice
    17 DECEMBER, 2018