By Ahmed Sahid Nasralla
Sierra Leone’s main opposition leader, Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio, may have to face trial in the court of public opinion if he fails to clarify what United Democratic Movement leader, Mohamed Bangura, has described as ‘inciting statements’.
This comes in the wake of an address by the Sierra Leone People’s Party leader to supporters at the party’s headquarters on Wallace Johnson Street on June 25th, 2012, on his return from a long overseas tour.
“…. I Julius Maada Bio and my party, the SLPP, have the capacity to resist any violence coming from the ruling APC…,” the controversial United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader quoted in a press release issued yesterday as a statement by Mr. Bio during his June 25th address.
Mr. Bangura described the statement as inciting and called on Mr. Bio to clarify its contextual meaning.
He further claimed that the statement has been interpreted to mean that Mr. Bio intended to use violence to resist any perceived violence without least mindful that it was the Police and the Military that have the constitutional responsibility to maintain law and order, and to defend the sovereignty of Sierra Leone, respectively.
“Which capacity?” Mr. Bangura queried in apparent desperation while speaking to AYV following the release of his party’s press release.
“If any violence happens between now and after the elections, Maada Bio will be held responsible.”
Furthermore, Mr. Bangura said such a statement has the tendency to undermine the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) and the National Electoral Commission (NEC), both important institutions that he claimed consistently detest inciting statements from politicians.
Mr. Bangura said he was very alarmed by the statement when he realized that Mr. Bio was once a coup maker by being a key member of mutinied soldiers who in 1992 overthrew the then ruling APC government, and subsequently ousting his colleague mutineer, erstwhile Head of State of the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC), Rtd Captain Valentine E.M. Strasser.
In addition, Mr. Bangura said his concerns became more real by statements uttered by Mr. Bio’s National Publicity Secretary, Hon. Musa Tamba Sam, on air recently that the SLPP was tired of “complaining,” coupled with the opposition party’s recent blanket indictment of the Sierra Leone Police as being unprofessional.
When asked what he would do if Mr. Bio refused to clarify his alleged statement, the UDM leader and flagbearer said he would have no option but to take the former junta leader to what he referred to as the court of public opinion.
Meanwhile, in reaction to the UDM’s press release, SLPP’s National Publicity Secretary, Hon. Musa Tamba Sam, told AYV last night that Mr. Bio’s statement was clear and simple, and said he found it strange that the UDM leader did not understand the English language.
“We owe Mr. Bangura and his UDM no clarification,” said Hon. Tamba Sam. We are very clear; we know the APC is a violent party, but if the APC comes with any violence this time round we have the capacity to resist such violence. This time we will not run away to Guinea; we will resist and even prevent such violence.”
Hon. Tamba Sam said that’s why the first step they took as a party was to awaken the attention of the International Community to the potential for violence in the forthcoming elections.
“That is one way to resist and prevent any violence from the APC,” he said.