By KABS KANU
Yesterday was another landmark day in the struggle for democracy and human rights in Sierra Leone as anti-President Maada Bio protests rocked New York City . Hundreds of citizens belonging to the Concerned Sierra Leoneans For Good Governance and Human Rights came out in full force to stage very loud, noisy and powerful demonstrations to protest the human rights abuses, bad governance and tribalism that have torn the nation apart since President Maada Bio came to power in March, this year.
They were assisted by human rights organizations associated with the UN, including the Secretary General of the International Human Rights Council, Mr. Malik Mohamed, who addressed the demonstrators and not only promised to take their case to the UN, but that if President Bio does not listen , will lobby the UN Secretary General to have an interventionist mission sent to Sierra Leone.
The demonstration was held at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza in front of the United Nations building while President Bio was inside addressing the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly. Just about 50 meters across the plaza, supporters of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) were holding a counter-demonstration , but they were outdone by the Concerned Sierra Leoneans who drowned out their voices with loud chants accusing President Bio of atrocities and completely dominated the proceedings at the Plaza.
CONCERNED SIERRA LEONEANS’ BANNERS
THESE ARE SOME OF THE PRO-BIO SUPPORTERS STAGING A COUNTER-DEMONSTRATION.
When the President himself , led by some ministers of his government and U.S. Secret Service officials , passed by on his way to show solidarity with the SLPP demonstrators, he was roundly heckled and booed by the Concerned Sierra Leoneans who had early rejected efforts by Ambassador to the U.S, H.E.Sidiqui Wai and ministers to address them and booed them off too. President Bio was visibly moved and though he tried to prove otherwise by waving back at the demonstrators, it was clear that he was rattled by the forceful voices, insults and booes.
In fact, when President Bio finally got to the SLPP wing of the plaza, he did not address his supporters as could have been normally expected. He just whispered a few words to the supporters standing in the front , before he was whisked away by the Secret Service.It is not know whether the Secret Service stopped Bio from addressing the demonstration.
Supporters of Bio and the Concerned Sierra Leoneans traded angry words across the aisle and once again the dangerous political divide in Sierra Leone was put on international stage for the world to see.