By KABS KANU-
Yesterday, supporters of the All People’s Congress ( APC ) turned out to counter a demonstration that was supposed to have been held by supporters of the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party ( SLPP ) under the nomenclature of Concerned Sierra Leoneans at the Sierra Leone Embassy in Washington DC.
The organizers said it was to be the first of many demonstrations they had planned in protest against the dismissal of former Vice-President, Mr. Samuel Sam Sumana. However, the planned demonstration ended up not being held.
During the week, some ill-disposed Sierra Leoneans spreading disaffection and discord in the social media had been calling for demonstrations against the government in the U.S. in a belligerent spirit that forbode disorder and a fracturing of the precious spirit of peace and tranquility among our people in the diaspora. Yesterday’s demonstration was supposed to have been one of them.
However, in a message posted on Facebook during the week, the organizers of the demonstration, who called themselves the CONCERNED SIERRA LEONEANS, seemed to depart from the war-like spirit of those who initially announced the demonstration.
According to organizers , members were to dress in formal attire – coat and tie, which they did ; they were to have written out placards in large letters so that people could read it from afar and brought some snack and drink “as we are going to spend hours at the Embassy.” They were said to have brought the placards but they did not display them . They were also to conduct themselves well, which many commentators said they did.
SOME OF THE SLPP SUPPORTERS OR “CONCERNED SIERRA LEONEANS ” WHO TURNED UP FOR THE DEMONSTRATION THAT NEVER WAS
Unlike the threatening and crude plans being hatched by other SLPP supporters in the social media, to their credit, this group of demonstrators was civil and orderly . They had duly advised their colleagues in their public statement that “Participants must put on their best behavior to promote their message to the government and people of Sierra Leone, and to the World.” According to accounts sent to this newspaper by participants from both spectrum, the supposed demonstrators lived up to their resolve. They sang the Sierra Leone National Anthem and offered prayers for the nation and President Ernest Bai Koroma.
ANOTHER VIEW OF THE SLPP SUPPORTERS
What they had not however contended with was that die-hard APC supporters would have been there to counter the demonstration. This newspaper learnt that before even the demonstrators got there, APC supporters led by staunch members like the present Chairman of the APC-USA Mr. Ibrahim Kamara, members Washington DC Chapter President Beatrice Conteh, Abie Mansaray, Mariama Lowe-Bangura , former Chairman Osman T.Conteh, Dauda Tombo Bangura , Mohamed Forna ( AKA Pa Yamba Lawyer ) , APC Pikin Unisa Thorlu Conteh, Bobson Kamara, (More names will be added as we receive them ) were already there and singing the party’s victory song. According to Dauda Tombo Bangura, the demonstrators were outnumbered by the APC supporters. The would-be demonstrators were surprised.
THREE OF THE WOULD-HAVE-BEEN DEMONSTRATORS
According to Women’s Leader, Madam Mariama Lowe-Bangura, “The great turn out of APCiers diffused all tensions. They ( SLPP supporters ) were almost outnumbered , even with the short notice we had. We definitely made a statement that we the APCiers will stand by our President and party through thick and thin. Our Chairman , APC USA , spoke on our behalf , emphasizing our support to the President. ”
YET ANOTHER PICTURE OF THE SLPP SUPPORTERS OR CONCERNED SIERRA LEONEANS
The demonstrators then said they had come to present a petition to Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the U.S, Mr. Bockarie Stevens. Whether they decided to abandon their plans to demonstrate because they were outnumbered is a matter for conjecture. They went upstairs where they were well received by Ambassador Stevens, the Deputy Ambassador, Mr. I.S. Conteh and other embassy staff. They had a meeting with Ambassador Stevens and the Deputy and had the opportunity of presenting their case . According to reports, the meeting was civil and the SLPP officials put their points across in a decent manner , without rancor. Ambassador Stevens himself was highly commended for the matured, professional and experienced manner he and his staff handled the discussion with the SLPP supporters.
ALPHA SAIDU BANGURA PUTTING FORWARD THE CASE FOR THE SLPP SUPPORTERS
People who spoke with this newspaper applauded President Koroma for appointing such a mature, level-headed and politically-savvy ambassador to a country like America, where sophistication , complexity and diversity are the keynote . His ability to reach out fairly to and interact professionally with members of the opposition and various other groups and organizations is a big plus for the kind of diplomacy capable of keeping the Sierra Leone community together in the U.S .
FROM RIGHT : AMBASSADOR I.S. CONTEH, AMBASSADOR BOCKARIE STEVENS, APC MEMBER WHOSE NAME WILL BE REVEALED SHORTLY; PRESS ATTACHE PASCO TEMPLE AND PA YAMBA LAWYER
As we have often said as a newspaper, we are one people, one country. The imperative must always be peace and common understanding between us, regardless of the parties we serve. The Sam Sumana issue and other problems between the APC and the SLPP need not polarize our nation. We can handle matters amicably, responsibly and peacefully as was done yesterday by both the APC and the SLPP.
FORMER CHAIRMAN OSMAN CONTEH AND A FEMALE MEMBER WHOSE NAME WILL BE REVEALED SHORTLY
Those satanic people in the background trying to use this Sam Sumana situation to sow seeds of chaos and anarchy in our country need not be given any listening ear. This is a constitutional matter and it is in the hands of the highest court in the land, the SUPREME COURT. Let the Supreme Court decide the matter . This Sam Sumana issue is not capable of tearing our nation apart, if we really love our country . Those who want power should wait for the 2018 elections, which are just around the corner.
AMBASSADOR STEVENS AND MADAM BEATRICE CONTEH
Back to the story of the demonstration that never was, Ambassador Stevens also held meetings with the APC Branch .
What is important is that supporters of the two parties had time to put their views across in a civilized manner and interestingly took pictures together before they all dispersed peacefully. This should be the spirit in the new Sierra Leone. We do not need guns and matchetes to solve our problems. We can do so through dialogue and consensus.
Mr. Mohamed Bangura, Leader of the United Democratic Movement ( UDM ) could not have epitomized this spirit better when he addressed the SLPP . “I am appealing to all SLPP supporters to ignore Mr. Tejan-Sie’s call and allow the matter of the Vice President to be carefully heard by the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone…Even the Vice President (who is the Plaintiff in the matter) has called on his supporters and well-wishers to remain calm and to abide by the rule of law…The SLPP should not use the matter of VP Sam Sumana as a cover to stir up unrest in the country…This is unacceptable… All of us must join President Koroma and the Government to end the Ebola scourge in our country”.
It was learnt that one of the key men vying for the standard bearership of the SLPP, Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, was completely opposed to the party’s nation-wide demonstration planned for Monday. Dr. Yumkella, it was said, preferred a legal settlement of the Sam Sumana issue, as violence was counterproductive.
Cecil Pratt, a social commentator on Facebook later reported that : “The Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) through it Secretary General Banja Tejansie said they will not go ahead with any demonstration on the 30th March as promised, because they respect the Rule of Law and the Judicial Process. Unlike some unruly, rogue and dishonest lawyers of the Sierra Leone Bar Association who have complete disregard for the Judicial System, SLPP Secretary General Banja Tejansie reportedly explained that they do not want their peaceful action to be hijacked by others; like the situation that happened when the Sierra Leone Bar Association peaceful meeting was hijacked by some rogue members and resulted into an illegal demonstration that the Police rightly and quickly dispersed.”
THIS WAS THE STATEMENT RELEASED BY THE SLPP ANNOUNCING THE DEMONSTRATION
The first of the series of demonstrations to be made against the unconstrainal removal of the Vice- President of Sierra Leone, Chief Alhaji Sam Sumana from office by President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma will be held at the Sierra Leone Embassy at 1701 19th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20009. The demonstration starts at 10:00 am Et. prompt. Fellow Sierra Leoneans, make it a point of duty to attend. To promote the effectiveness of this venture the following are mandated:
1. All participants must dress in formal attire – coat and tie.
2. Participants must put on their best behavior to promote their message to the government and people of Sierra Leone, and to the World.
3. Write out placards in large letters so that people can read it from afar.
Bring some snack and drink as we are going to spend hours at the Embassy.
4. No bad words against the president or his government is allowed.
5. Let us remain focus on our message, which is the condemnation of the unconstrained act which is a threat to our democracy and to our fragile peace.
Your participation and adherence to the above is highly solicited.
Long Live Sierra Leone! The Land that we all love!
The date for this first demonstration is this Friday, March 27,2015, starting at 10:00 am, at the Sierra Leone Embassy in Washington, DC.
PHOTO CREDIT : THE SLPP PHOTOS ARE CREDITED TO MR. SAHR YAMBA AND THE APC PHOTOS TO MR. UNISA THORLU CONTEH ( APC PEKIN )