By KABS KANU
Chaos is looming in Sierra Leone and the whole nation is on edge as the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party ( SLPP) and the opposition All People’s Congress ( APC ) are ready to defy each other over the commissions of inquiry which will start on Tuesday.
The SLPP has said the commissions will not be governed by rules of evidence. The APC has said that if there are no rules of evidence and if the permanent secretaries and vote controllers are not included in the inquiry, they will not attend the inquiry. President Bio of the SLPP has threatened that whoever refuses to attend the inquiry when called upon will face the full force of the law. The message from the SLPP is unyielding and uncompromising but so also is the message from the APC.
SUPPORTERS OF THE SLPP HAVE TAKEN TO THE SOCIAL MEDIA WITH PICTURES LIKE THIS OF RIOT POLICE MARCHING IN MAKENI TODAY, BRAGGING THAT THEY ARE DOING IT IN READINESS FOR TUESDAY.
The APC stance has been enhanced by the Sierra Leone Bar Association and some civil society organizations and the Inter-Religious council , the Women’s Situation Room ( WSR) , the Advocacy Movement Network ( AMNet), Women’s Forum SIerra Leone , Mano River Women Peace Network ( SL) , YWCA-SL, Market Women’s Association and Graceland Sierra Leone ? They all believe that rules of evidence as dictated by the constitution should have been included in the commissions of inquiry.
What many people are asking is, what will happen if APC officials keep to their resolve not to attend the inquiry ? What measures will President Bio resort to, to ensure compliance ? And the other key question is, how will the people of Sierra Leone respond in the event of mass arrests of members of the former government ?
The situation does not portend any favourable outcome. We have seen the tendency in Sierra Leoneans to hero-worship their political leaders. It remains to be seen if APC supporters will not stage protests against any mass arrests of their leaders and former government officials. Only a fool ha not been paying attention to the staunch support the APC has been giving its Chairman, former President Ernest Bai Koroma, in his recent problems with the SLPP when he was invited to the CID to answer questions to charges of an alleged inciting press statement put out by his party .
Today, in a show of strength to probably intimidate supporters of Koroma, well-armed riot police took to the streets of Makeni City in a march believed to be in readiness for Tuesday, when the commissions of inquiry will start. But how long will this government depend on intimidation of opponents to carry out some of its controversial schemes ? This was the main reason that Sierra Leoneans had always opposed the presidential ambitions of the former junta leader, Retired Brig. Maada Bio. Many people think he is a troublemaker whose ascendancy to the presidency, they always feared, would polarize the nation and probably return Sierra Leone to war.
The idea of a commission of inquiry to get former government officials to account for their stewardship is a popular one among the people and no reasonable person will oppose it. Even officials of the APC, by their utterances, are not opposing the commissions, per se. What they are against is the decision by the Bio Government not to have the commissions guided by the rules of evidence, as stipulated in the constitution. So the question is, why won’t President Bio obey the constitution and run the commissions of inquiry along legal and constitutional lines by having rules of evidence , as even the Bar Association believes he must do ?
The people of Sierra Leone do not want to see any more chaos in their country. However, unless a miracle happens, the stage has been set for one between the SLPP and the APC over the commissions of inquiry.