Written By Jacob Sax Conteh
As details still pour in about the ugly violence that erupted in Bo in the past two days when an SLPP rally led by Maada Bio, SLPP presidential candidate for the 2012 presidential elections in Sierra Leone reportedly clashed with APC supporters, as a peace loving Sierra Leonean, I am deeply concerned and angry that one year before the elections, violence has already begun to rear its ugly head. What happened to our sanity? What happened to our vow that after ten years of mayhem that saw violent rape of women and children, wantom destruction of property and hacking of people’s limbs we will never resort to violence again? Are we going to return to the dark days when our country was blacklisted in the world? Are we going to revise the gains we have made in the international community as a model of democracy in Africa? No way. Those of us with cool heads will never allow a group of thugs to take over our country again
There are so many questions that need answers about the situation in Bo. What was an SLPP rally doing in front of the APC office as press reports have been saying? Shouldn’t the leaders of the rally know that they should stay out of the APC office? Why will anyone throw a stone at the SLPP presidential candidate? Where was his security entourage? These are questions the police have to thoroughly investigate.
I call on the Koroma administration to use an iron fist to crush violence in Sierra Leone. The time has come to take the gloves off and reign in on remnants of rebels who have now been co-opted by rogue politicians to return our country to its dark days. There should be new guidelines on political rallies. All rallies should be cleared with the police, and no one in a rally should carry any weapon, including stones. We have gone too far in restoring our country to allow a group of thugs to take us back to the bad old days.
I have a stark warning to all politicians in Sierra Leone. The country does not belong to you. It belongs to us, the people. Any politician who wishes to hold office must adhere to the tenets of peace and tranquility. The days of using thugs to intimidate us are over. As I wrote before the 2007 elections, the wheel of democracy is rolling all over Sierra Leone. Those who board that wheel will see prosperity and peace in their lives. But those who stand in front of the wheel of democracy will be crushed. Anyone who uses violence to gain an office in Sierra Leone is not worthy of that office.
My prayer is that the God of our fathers, the God who sent His angels to rescue us from the rebel war will again send his angels of protection in Sierra Leone. I also pray that all of us journalists will give peace a chance, and refrain from yellow journalism which incites violence by publishing untrue and sensational articles to mislead our people. Let us remember that we all need to work vehemently to prevent violence in Sierra Leone. Let us tone down the rhetoric of intimidation.