By Mohamed Massaquoi, Freetown
|Few years ago they appeared to be friends|
Freetown —The controversial leader of the People's Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC), lawyer Charles Francis Margai has categorically stated that his party will from now on work with the main opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to stamp out what he referred to as assault on the country's democratic process by the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC).
Speaking at a press conference jointly organized by the SLPP, PMDC and NDA at the SLPP headquarters in Freetown few daysago, the PMDC leader noted that it’s high time for Sierra Leoneans to take their own destiny in their hands. "We have acted individually for a very long time without success, this is the moment we have to take our destiny in our hands," he said. "We are here to condemn the action of the Inspector General of Police for banning political party activities. We will always act within the parameters of the law but we will ensure that any attack on SLPP is considered an attack on PMDC and NDA.
Though rumors have been spilling around that Mr. Margai and his party are ready to throw their weight behind the SLPP during the next presidential elections next year after the much touted marriage with the APC ended in chaos, this is the first time the PMDC leader has publicly make a statement in the direction. "From now on, all national issues will be discussed collectively. I am not going to talk about the Kelvin Lewis committee report. Let them charge SLPP members to court, I will be there to defend them without any remuneration," Mr. Margai said
|Is this a formidable force?|
In a joint statement issued by the three political parties regarding recent political mishaps and the action of the police against political party activities in the country, they pointed out that President Ernest Koroma has contravened the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone in the case of the Moses Shears Commission of Inquiry. "The Moses Shears Commission submitted its report to the President about a year ago. Contrary to the constitutional prescription that a Commission's report should be published within six months of receipt, this stipulation has simply not been adhered to," the joint release stated. "Despite persistent demands for publication, the Government has either deliberately ignored the report or has just let it gather dust on its shelves. We consider such misfeasance utterly repugnant and unacceptable in a civilized society, for it creates the impression that ill-motivated elements so inclined can perpetrate acts of political violence and intolerance anywhere anytime with absolute impunity.”
"Equally so, it’s difficult for our Parties and the public in general to understand why a Government that lays claim to being responsible and a respecter of the rule of law and human rights would allow this to happen in the full knowledge that the appointment of the Commission was necessitated by the need to ascertain the root causes of intolerance and political violence in the country and the urgency of taking adequate measures to prevent its recurrence in future.”
"In contrast to this uncaring attitude of the Government of President Ernest Bai Koroma towards the Shears-Moses Commission Report, we observe the extraordinarily hasty response of his Government to the Investigation Panel's Reports on the disturbances in Kono and Bo.”
It must be recalled that incidents of political violence within the APC in Kono and between the APC and SLPP in Bo occurred on the 3rd and 9th September 2011, respectively. Whilst for the Kono incident President Koroma directed the Police to investigate, for the Bo incident he constituted on the very day a broad-based Investigation Panel headed by Mr. Kelvin Lewis of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) to look into the stoning of the SLPP Presidential Flag Bearer, Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio, the burning down of houses and the shooting and injuries sustained by several persons. This Panel submitted its Report three weeks later, on 30th September 2011. On 5th October 2011, less than one week after its receipt, the Government described the Report of the Panel as good, accepted its findings and recommendations, assured the general public that they would be fully implemented and declared that "over 40 persons" would soon be charged to court.