Sierra Leone received another accolade in the area of democracy and political tolerance when on Thursday 12 June President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma launched the opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) Unity Radio at the Miatta Conference Centre. The symbolic event attracted audience from a wide spectrum of society including present and former government ministers. President Koroma said his acceptance to launch the opposition radio demonstrates the level of political tolerance that has been attained in the country. President Ernest Koroma who describes the occasion as unique said “if the radio operates effectively and efficiently I will stay in power as I will be critisised where I go wrong, which will make me take corrective measures.” Awareness Times says Sierra Leoneans were full of praise for President Koroma’s magnanimity saying it will help in consolidating sustainable peace. The News and Awoko also report the launch.
SLPP suffered big blow as aspirants step down for APC candidates in Kono
Three Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) candidates contesting the local council elections in Kono have reportedly step down for the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) candidates. According to Salone Times, SLPP’s popularity in Kono has dwindled making it difficult for their candidates to survive the local council elections. Meanwhile, Concord Times says Paramount Chiefs that were ally to the SLPP have defected to the APC on the grounds that the district stands to benefit in terms of development under the ruling government.
Residents of Bambara Chiefdom in Kenema District threaten to boycott local council elections
Residents of Lower Bambara Chiefdom in the Kenema District, Eastern Sierra Leone, have threatened to boycott the 5 July local council elections in protest for the under development of the chiefdom. Head of the Youths and miners in the chiefdom, Saidu Kulangbanda, told Concord Times that people in the chiefdom may not vote in the local council elections because they have not benefitted from politics and that development projects have not been directed to their chiefdom.
FBC students threaten to demonstrate
The News in its front page of today’s edition says students of Fourah Bah College have threatened to demonstrate if they are not allowed to return to their hostels before the commencement of the second semester exams.
The Principal of Fourah Bay College, Professor Aiah Gbakima, told journalists at the weekly government press briefing that students have shredded examination time tables in protest for being ordered out of their hostels.
In a rather angry mood, Professor Gbakima remarked, “if they behave in an animalistic style, we can treat them that way, but if they behave like gentlemen, they will have the treatment.” He said million worth of properties were destroyed during the last demonstration and stated that the money to repair the damage will be recovered from the student fund.
Government denounces increase in fuel price
The Minister of Trade and Industry, Alimamy P. Koroma, has denied rumours that the government is about to increase prices on fuel. He told journalists at the weekly government press briefing that even though the price of fuel is escalating in the world market, the government is not planning to increase prices on fuel. The pump prices remain as they are and warned that anyone that sells fuel beyond the official price will be dealt with accordingly. The Minister warned against the dangerous rumour which he said will not auger well for the stability and development of the country. The story is reported in The New Citizen, The News, For Di People and Premier News.
APC to institute Commission of Inquiry for ex-SLPP Ministers, Government officials
A press release from the Ministry of Information and Communication says President Ernest Bai Koroma has announced the setting up of a Commission of Inquiry to investigate alleged culpable individuals of government and institutions including former Ministers in the Tejan Kabbah led government. The release says the Commission of Inquiry will in no way duplicate the functions of the Anti corruption commission (ACC).
“We are not going to tolerate a situation that would allow holders of public offices to abuse state property or embezzle state funds and get away with it,” the release stated. According to Standard Times and Concord Times, the Commission of Inquiry culminated from the 17,000 page report compiled by the transition team set up by President Koroma some time last year to look into the state of affairs of the SLPP government.
Election materials for the 5 July Local Council elections arrive in Freetown
The News reports the arrival of election materials for the holding of the 5 July elections. According to the Head of Outreach of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), Miatta French, the election materials which arrived at the Lungi International Airport on Wednesday 11 June have been transported, with the help of the Sierra Leone Police, to the NEC headquarters for safekeeping. The election materials she said include voting slips, indelible ink, stamps, ballot box and other items.
Former British Prime Minister pledges to help Sierra Leone develop
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair who was in Sierra Leone on a three-day visit has pledged to help Sierra Leone develop. Addressing journalists at a press briefing at State House, Mr. Blair said he is prepared to assist Sierra Leone by pleading with investors abroad to invest in the country. Mr. Blair said Sierra Leone has a lot of potentials and promised to do his utmost to ensure that these potentials are tapped for the good of the country. President Dr. Ernest Koroma called Mr. Blair a special friend of Sierra Leone and expressed his government pleasure of playing host to the former British Prime Minister, The News reports.
Sierra Leone First Lady accused of political intimidation
The New Vision in its front page says the First Lady, Sia Koroma, has been accused of involving in political intimidation and harassment in her home town in Kono district. Youths of Kamara Chiefdom, in Kono district, claimed that the first Lady has allegedly told chiefdom people not to allow candidates from the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP), Peoples Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) and Independent Candidates in the Chiefdom. The report quote the first lady of alleging that encouraging opposition in the chiefdom will not be good for her image, the APC and her husband, the President.
Government lifts ban on logging in Sierra Leone
The government of Sierra Leone has lifted the ban on logging in Sierra Leone and at the same time issued a stern warning that the logging business will now have to abide by new regulations and regulations. According to the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Sam Sesay, loggers should now apply for a transportation permit from his Ministry before moving any log from its place. He also said that all logs exported from the country should have identification code. The Minister warned that any forest invader that cuts logs without his Ministry’s permission will be dealt with according to the law. Premier News quotes the Minister as saying that “the new regulations are not to frustrate investors but a regulatory mechanism to ensure that forest products are used responsibly”.
Immigration Department clamps down over 100 illegal immigrants in Sierra Leone
The immigration Department has arrested over 102 foreign national that are staying illegally in the country. Speaking to journalists at the Immigration Department in Freetown, the Chief Immigration Officer, Alpha K. Koroma, said for the past two days they were busy arresting foreign nationals without valid documents to stay in the country.
“It is illegal for foreigners to be in the country without legal documents,” he was quoted as saying. He stated that his department is not against foreign nationals staying in the country, but that they should do so with due regard to the laws of the country; write The News and Premier News.
SLPP plans fire for fire attack on alleged APC militia
As campaign for the local council elections heats up, the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) Secretary General, Jacob Jusu Saffa, has warned that the SLPP will return what he called ‘fire for fire’ against alleged APC private militia should they continue to harass and intimidate their supporters especially in the Northern Province, For Di People writes. Jacob Saffa said since the National Electoral Commission (NEC) has declared the commencement of campaign; they were now prepared to start their campaigning in a peaceful manner. “Our only fear is that the APC has a private militia which was part of their campaign strategy to win political power,” he reportedly said. He revealed that they have received several reports from the party members who are contesting the 5 July local council elections, of harassment and intimidation for the so called private militia.
PMDC, SLPP frown at Tony Blair’s snub
The opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) and the Peoples Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) are unhappy with the former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, for snubbing them during his visit to Sierra Leone. PMDC scribe told Concord Times that they remained dissatisfied that Tony Blair could come into the country without meeting with members of the opposition. He said the British envoy should have realized that in modern day politics a country can only survive when opinions of opposition parties are sought and incorporated into national programmes. SLPP Secretary General, Jacob Jusu Saffa, expressed similar sentiments but shifted his anger to the British High Commission in Sierra Leone for their failure to advise the former Prime Minister as to whom to meet and hold consultations with.
President Ernest Koroma launches APC campaign for the local council elections
President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma who doubles as leader and Chairman of the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) on Tuesday 10 June launched his party campaign for the local council elections at their headquarters in Freetown. Addressing aspirants for the local council elections according to Awoko, President Koroma challenged them to win their seats in their respective wards, but at the same time caution them to carry out their political activities peacefully devoid of violence. He warned against harassment and intimidation of opposition supporters pointing out that Sierra Leone is a democratic nation.
Berewa to launch SLPP campaign for the local council elections in Bo and Kenema
Former Vice President and flag bearer of the opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP), Solomon Berewa, will on Friday 13 and Saturday 14 June launched the SLPP campaign for the local council election in Bo and Kenema. According to New Vision and Concord Times, Mr. Berewa will be given a rousing welcome by thousands of SLPP supporters who want to use the occasion to send a strong signal that Bo and Kenema are still the strong hold of the SLPP. This will be Mr. Berewa’s first visit to the two regional headquarter towns since he lost the last presidential election.
No PMDC-APC alliance for coming elections
Presidential Affairs Minister Alpha has said that the PMDC-APC alliance was an arrangement of convenience the APC needed at the time for the presidential election which the party ultimately won. He said the PMDC is an independent political party that should not rely on the APC when it comes to fielding candidates for the upcoming local council elections. Life Herald quotes Mr. Kanu as saying that the PMDC are at liberty to sever the ties with the APC at their whims and caprice.
(Compiled by UNIOSIL, Public Information Office, Freetown, Sierra Leone).