After chaos that almost shook  Bo last weekend


Tuesday November 22, 2005

By Wilfred Kabs-Kanu

Everywhere one went yesterday, whether it was in Sierra Leone or the other half of the nation in the diaspora, the heated topic of discussion was Saturday’s disturbances in Bo. The clash between supporters of two heavyweight SLPP politicians –Vice-President Solomon Berewa and former Interior Minister, Charles Margai ( who has now left the party to form his own ) has claimed the attention  and concern of Sierra Leoneans at home and abroad.

The Bo turmoil cast an ugly pall over the possibility that Sierra Leonean politicians and their supporters have learnt anything from the bloody war that killed 200,000 innocent people and left a colony of disabled and amputated citzens. The ferocity, the venom, the bravado of Saturday’s bitternes and its untasteful aftermaths of finger-pointings and recriminations are frightful commentaries of oncoming events that have frankly started casting their shadows in Sierra Leone.

The biggest concern of Sierra Leoneans is that if the present acrimony within the SLPP  is not contained, it could lead to a resumption  of hostilities in Sierra Leone. There is no way that Sierra Leone would avoid another war if the likes of Solomon Berewa, Charles Margai and Hinga Norman do not sit down and in the interest of the nation decide to smoke the peace pipe.

Sierra Leoneans have already taken sides and it is a matter of concerb that the  three men can boast of tremendous support . Those who have been underrating Charles Margai saw the gigantic support base he has acrued in so short a time .Margai’s supporters virtually shook Bo last Saturday and they prevented a whole Vice-President from entering a school.  And this is not the only thing  creating concern among Sierra Leoneans. The optimism that Vice-President Solomon Berewa expressed that he would sail through to victory in 2007 seems  to have been wishful thinking after all. Berewa and President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah can  prepare for victory in 2007 but in their own interest they cannot foreclose the possibility of defeat as well. One can now speculate that Vice-President Berewa could lose the 2007 Elections.

For some Sierra Leoneans, the blame for Saturday’s angry demonstrations against Vice-President Berewa in Bo lay squarely on the shoulders of President Kabbah and the present SLPP vanguard . They feel that Kabbah insulted the intelligence of the nation by “imposing Berewa” on the country as his heir-apparent. Recriminations from the SLPP Delegates Convention three months ago have not cooled down. Anti-Kabbah/Berewa Sierra Leoneans feel that the votes at the convention were fraudulently manipulated in Berewa’s favour.  And this was one of the factors that fuelled the anger in Bo last Saturday. A lot of Sierra Leoneans feel that the Kabbah-Berewa union will not augur well for Sierra Leone.

According to our Provincial reporter, Soriebah Kalokoh, the hostile reaction in Bo was both a demonstration of support for Margai’s position and a protest action against the Makeni Convention where Berewa was elected Presidential candidate for the SLPP. And the  concern here  is the SLPP government’s unwillingness to accept that the events of Makeni  put a dent on the party’s unity and could be a catalyst for the 1967-like downfall of the SLPP in 2007 . Only when the present government agrees with dissidents that something was not right in Makeni that efforts can resume immediately to pacify angry parties and to reconcile with them. This gesture is not forthcoming and it is worrisome to Sierra Leone. Ofcourse, it must be noted that Kabbah and Berewa do have their own support and a huge one at that.

Margai too is receiving a fair share of the blame for the unpleasant events of Bo last Saturday. According to some Sierra Leoneans, he is too determined to be President for the nation’s good. Some Sierra Leoneans have a problem with the unwillingness of Mr. Margai to back down, stay in  the SLPP and wait for his time to lead. They feel that his program of splitting from the SLPP and forming his own party is divisive. And many SLPP lovers are not hiding their resentment for him . They cast worrying glances back to 1967  and see Margai as the one factor that could provoke a repeat-performance. But again, other SLPP supporters disgruntled with the mess the SLPP has created in power see Margai as the redeemer of the party.

As could be seen therefore, the nation is being torn into different factions supporting different personalities, each bent to leave no stone unturned to outdo the other in 2007. When you place this scenerio in a country where peace remains fragile and elusive, you see why Sierra Leoneans at home and abroad have been worried since Saturday’s violent events in Bo.



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