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COCORIOKO » 2007 » August

Archive for August, 2007

SIERRA LEONE: Clashes spread to south

Friday, August 31st, 2007


FREETOWN, 31 August 2007 (IRIN) – Sierra Leone’s run-off elections are becoming increasingly chaotic with reports of violent clashes between political activists dogging the political campaigns as they moved through the southern cities Bo and Moyamba.

Supporters of APC presidential candidate Ernest Bai Koroma and the governing party’s SLPP Solomon Berewa armed with sharp sticks and rocks clashed in Segbwema and Kenema on 30 and 31 August, according to reports from the towns.

As tension mounted in Kenema on 30 August, police imposed a curfew, however residents went about their normal business on 31 August.

Berewa’s spokesperson told IRIN that on 31 August, APC supporters attempted to burn down the SLPP party office in Bo, however the charge was denied by the head of the police in Bo, Foday Dabah. “The situation is under control. Media reports of houses being burned are false,” he said.

One of Sierra Leone’s most prominent human rights activists Charles Mambu condemned the increasing violence and appealed to political leaders to restrain their supporters. “The hard won peace must me maintained at all costs,” he said.

Some analysts have expressed concern that Sierra Leone, which experienced a devastating civil war between 1991 and 2002, could divide along ethnic-regional lines. However, senior diplomats in the country have said that low-level violence is not a major cause for concern, and expressed confidence that Sierra Leone’s police and army are sufficiently trained and equipped to quell violence effectively.

Meanwhile the Head of the Outreach Unit of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) Miatta French has confirmed the arrival of elections materials for the 8 September poll.

Who’s responsible for the Segbwema fracas?

Friday, August 31st, 2007

By our correspondent

Friday, 31 August 2007

As expected, accusations and counter-accusations abound over where the responsibility lies for the Thursday 30th August clashes in Segbwema, eastern Sierra Leone, between supporters of the ruling SLPP and the opposition APC. Because of those clashes, a temporary dusk to dawn curfew has been imposed by the police in neighbouring Kailahun.


A Reuters report puts the blame squarely on the door of the SLPP for starting the disturbance. The report published today, Friday August 31st says, ‘dozens of youths stoned a convoy of the opposition All People’s Congress (APC) as it rolled into the south-eastern town of Segbwema. They then fought with the party’s guards before police dispersed them with tear gas. The pro-SLPP youths forced Koroma’s campaign convoy to turn back from Segbwema’.


A Voice of America (VOA) report published also today 31st August, quotes the assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of professional standards and the media, Chris Charlie agreeing with the Reuters report in part that ‘yesterday (30th August) Mr. Ernest Koroma and his whole team were en route to Kailahun after traveling from Kenema, the police have ensured that he was provided with the best security’.


Charlie went on in the VOA report that ‘indeed there were some skirmishes between rival parties in Segbwema in the afternoon hours. But as I am talking to you now I have confirmed with the regional commissioner in the eastern province that even the assertion that SLPP party building was burned to the ground is not true, and she has yet to confirm to us here in Freetown whether other buildings have been gutted’.


‘The police in Kailahun have declared immediate curfew for people to stay in their homes rather than go out because there were some threats this evening for the native Poro Devil (the secret association for men in Mende society) to come out in the streets,’ Charlie said. ‘Our presence is all over the provinces, especially in that part of the country’, he said.


Charlie said the police could not confirm whether it was APC or SLPP supporters who were responsible for the alleged violence. ‘We can only determine that one when there is a full-scale investigation, which the regional commissioner in the south and eastern provinces has now mounted. As I speak to you, we have authorized her today to send an investigating team to Segbwema to unravel the truth because most times during this period you have reports and counter-reports from rival political parties. And we have the arduous task to investigate speedily the allegations and come out with our findings before we can categorically lay blame on x, y, z party or not,’ Charlie said.


Observers believe the elections are bound to attract some amount of violence because they are the first after the departure of UN peacekeepers in 2005. They are a test of the country’s fragile peace, after 11 years of a brutal civil war, and also of its fledgling democracy. It is equally a test of the strength and resolve of the security forces to operate in a democratic climate. Their impartial and professional handling of the present crisis will go a way long way in demonstrating their ability as a force for good in Sierra Leone’s infantile democracy.

Guinea’s President Lansana Conte is interfering in Sierra Leone’s politics ?

Friday, August 31st, 2007

Culled from Standard Times


August 30, 2007 09:21 AM While the PMDC Leader, lawyer Charles Margai may be enduring blows and criticisms from a cross section of home based politicians, he has however been lauded by the Guinean President, Lansana Conte as somebody brainy and hardworking. The Guinean President was speaking on Monday this week to some of his colleagues when he reflected on the political situation in Sierra Leone. “Margai is a brain and hardworking, he said and recalled the role he played while the Tejan Kabbah government was in exile in Guinea. “He played a useful role when his government was overthrown, that notwithstanding “I hate him because he wants to disgrace a friend and brother” Conte fumed, and said that he was prepared to support materially and financially his friend if he fails to control five million people.

President Lansana Conte informed his audience that he has already contacted the NDA leader to team up with the SLPP in the second round of the presidential run-off election, and was also prepared together with ex-president Obasango of Nigeria to refund all expenditures incurred by the leaders of the National Democratic Alliance, Mr. Amadu Boye Jalloh and Dr. Baba Conteh of the Peace and Liberation Party if they throw their support behind Solomon Berewa of the SLPP.

It is not known whether or not the Guinean President would want President Kabbah to use the Police, Military and the Electoral Commission to thwart the desire of the people as was done in Guinea and Nigeria where electoral malpractices are the order of the day. He criticized the musicians, radio stations and the newspapers “these are responsible for the downfall of the Kabbah government in Sierra Leone” He said.

A foreign diplomatic who got wind of the political utterances of President Lansana Conte has described him as a dictator, while giving credit to His Excellency Alhaji Ahmad Tejan Kabbah as a model of democratic leader in the West Africa sub-region.

It would be recalled that similar sentiments had been expressed by ex-president Obasanjo sometime ago when he predicted that Solomon Berewa would emerge victorious in the just concluded presidential elections of August 11, 2007.

The ex-president of Nigeria would have blamed President Kabbah for being a respecter of democracy and its values, when he reflects on the fraudulent manner he conducted the elections in his country and imposed a puppet leader amidst international and local condemnations.

Sadly, there exist individual differences in both President Kabbah and ex-president Obasango, while the latter could be described as a democrat, the former is referred to as a manipulator and disrespecter of democracy. A Nigerian who spoke to this press said that Obasanjo would not favour counting of ballots to take place at the voting centres, but the headquarters so that the opportunity to stuff ballot boxes would be created. In addition, he would not want radio stations and newspaper to announce the preliminary results until the final results are published. “These are the undemocratic characters of Obasango” He said, adding that, had it been in Nigeria, there would have been delay in the dispatch of election materials and staff where support of the ruling party is weak; with about 60-70% of the staff and the security should be what he described “Your people”

According to eye witness account, the election results in Nigeria were first examined by ex-president Obasango with no representation from the opposition parties before they were released.” Obasanjo cares less about election code and foreign observers” he said.

In a very proud mood, President Lansana Conte said to his audience “How many times have I overcome the opposition”? It would be recalled that the Guinea was in a deep political mess as a result of President Lansana Conte dictatorial political ideology that resulted in the deaths of Guinean citizens and a protracted strike action, which up to this time has not been adequately resolved.

 

Live bullets were fired at Koroma and Margai”—Police

Friday, August 31st, 2007

By Sorie Sudan Sesay, Freetown.

Police this evening confirmed that live bullets were fired on the convoy of the leaders of the All People’s Congress (APC)Ernest Bai Koroma(photo) and the People’s Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) Charles Francis Margai, who were on a campaign tour in Kenema, eastern Sierra Leone.

Two of Koroma’s personal jeep vehicles were badly damaged – one of them had its front tire punctured as a result of the firing and is currently at the Kenema police station as exhibit, while the windscreen of the other was damaged.

Both leaders managed to escape through the help of IMATT military personnel who escorted them out of the township. In fact one of the IMATT vehicles which helped to rescue the APC convoy had its windscreen damaged.

The police could not confirm who fired the live shots but admitted that they were forced to fire teargas to disperse the desperate crowds who were bent on causing damage on Koroma and his team.

The convoy was coming from Segbwema where they were also forced to cut short their campaign tour and make a u-turn to Kenema.

On entering Kenema, according to the PMDC spokesman Mohamed Bangura, the police told them they could not guarantee them security forcing the APC men to call in for military and IMATT personnel for securiry.

This latest incident came barely three days to reports of violent attacks on northern businessmen in the township forcing some of them to flee the area because of insecurity.

Ernest and Margai later left for the southern township of Bo where they were also brutally attacked. But the attackers this time met stiff resistance from PMDC and APC supporters who engaged them in a fierce battle plunging the entire township in confusion and commotion.

The Sahara hotel where Margai and Ernest lodged was attacked this morning and police had to be immediately called in who reportedly fired teargas to disperse the attackers.

The residence of Sidique Janneh, the PMDC official who was suspended by his party for insubordination was ransacked.

Calm has however returned to the township but that was after the convoy had left for Taiama.

Meanwhile Ernest and his new political ally of the PMDC Charles Francis Margai, received a massive welcome back in Freetown today.

Koroma and Margai stood inside two jeeps and were driven across the city from the provinces.

Their arrival was greeted with a huge surge of people, mostly their supporters who came out to find out whether their leaders were hurt. The two leaders waved to their supporters, beaming with smiles.

Traffic came to a stand still as supporters ran after the convoy right on to the APC headquarters on Hannah Benka Coker Street, where the leaders briefly addressed their supporters.

The SLPP has not yet reacted on the recent spate of violence in the east of the country in which its supporters are alleged to play a prominent role. The party’s spokesman, Victor Reider, is also unavailable for comments.

 

SLPP, APC fight in Segbwema

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

SEGBWEMA, Sierra Leone, Aug 30 (Reuters) – Rival supporters in Sierra Leone fought with sticks and stones on Thursday, adding to fears that the build-up to next week’s presidential run-off could reopen wounds from the civil war.

Dozens of youths stoned a convoy of the opposition All People’s Congress (APC) as it rolled into the southeastern town of Segbwema. They then fought with the party’s guards before police dispersed them with tear gas, a Reuters reporter said.

APC leader Ernest Bai Koroma, who came first in an Aug. 11 poll with 44 percent of votes, faces Vice President Solomon Berewa of the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), who won 38 percent.

Koroma’s APC is in a strong position because of backing from SLPP dissident Charles Margai and his PMDC party, which has created an opposition majority in the new parliament. There is a split between the APC-leaning north and SLPP south.

The election is the first in the former British colony since U.N. peacekeepers left two years ago after helping end the 1991-2002 civil war.

The pro-SLPP youths forced Koroma’s campaign convoy to turn back from Segbwema, near the border with Liberia. The local SLPP party headquarters was set ablaze in the violence.

President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah said this week he could declare a state of emergency if electoral violence worsened.

Police imposed a brief curfew on Monday in the eastern border region, a centre of the illegal diamond mining trade which fuelled the civil war.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was “concerned about the tensions and violence that have been increasing in Sierra Leone since last week”, his spokesperson said on Wednesday.

“He calls on all parties and their leaders to do everything necessary to prevent the situation from escalating.”


VOLATILE EX-COMBATANTS

More than 70,000 fighters were disarmed at the end of the war, each given the equivalent of $100 to hand in their guns. Many drifted into driving motorcycle taxis after donor-funded skills’ training schemes closed down or ran out of money.

Mustapha Sesay and Femi Rashid are former foes who work together in a motorcycle taxi club that brings together ex-combatants in the southern town of Bo.

“I shoot you like a chicken,” laughs Sesay, 22, an ex-rebel child soldier. “You don’t know how to fight,” retorts Rashid, 40, once a traditional Kamajor hunter who battled rebels.

The Bo Bike Riders’ Association, where the pair work, represents nearly 5,000 motorcycle taxi drivers throughout southern Sierra Leone.

“Once they were fighting, and now they are working together … It is wonderful,” said David Ngombu from international aid organisation Conciliation Resources.

Sesay, who was abducted to fight by rebels when he was 12, says he will not go back to war.

“We only fight with this now,” he said, pointing to his thumb, which illiterate voters use to mark their ballot choice.

PMDC statement on Segbwema SLPP attack

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

PRESS RELEASE
August 30, 2007

Democracy under Threat in Sierra Leone Again

We regretfully bring you this press release of hostilities over the runoff
presidential election campaign from Sierra Leone. As you all know, the
world is yet to end its laudations for what has been named one of the
most peaceful and transparent democratic presidential and
parliamentary elections in Africa.

Now, news has reached us from the APC/PMDC coalition for 2007
presidential runoff election frontline that supporters loyal to the SLPP
have ambushed their convoy in Sebgwema, not far from Kenema,
preventing them from reaching Kailahun, their intended destination.
“We have been forced to return to Kenema, where, about 300 SLPP
youths have surrounded the APC/PMDC headquarters,” Idrissa Kamara
who is with the convoy told us.

Dr. Obaleh, the APC representative at the National Election Commission
(NEC), disturbed, confirmed that the convoy has also called him with
news of hostility against them in Segbwema. “How could we talk of
democracy when people are not free to campaign wherever they want
to campaign?” he concluded.

We called I.B. Kargbo, president of Sierra Leone Association of
Journalists, about the ensuing hostilities in Kenema, Segbwema and
Kailuhun. He also stated that he has talked to the Inspector General of
Police (I.G.) about the unrest in the eastern region and he [I.G.] has
promised to ensure their safe return to Freetown. “We have been told
that the unrest is being caused by SLPP supporters. We also heard that
a Canadian journalist has disappeared and his whereabouts is still
unknown,” he stated.

Ensuring the safe return of the convoy to Freetown is not enough. We
demand that the I.G. act now to ensure safe campaigning by all
political parties everywhere in Sierra Leone.

You may be wondering why news of unrest from Sierra Leone, deep in
the interior, is reaching you from the USA. Well, the answer, in fact, is
in the reason why the people must be given the free hand to choose
their leader: It takes, at least, two days for such ugly development to
reach the rest of the world from Sierra Leone, especially from the
interior, because of the poor or no communication under the SLPP.
Thank God, with the cell phone technology now, we can constantly stay
in touch with our people on the ground. And, with the help of easy
access to information technology on this side of the pond, we are able
to bring you such unwarranted development before it is too late.

We are pleading with the mass media to publish or rerun this news of
hostilities from Sierra Leone by any means available to them to help
protect democracy in Sierra Leone once and for all.

We are pleading with NEC and the international community to rescue
democracy in Sierra Leone.

Democracy has to have a chance in that war torn nation, as we cannot
afford to return to our ugly past. The international community needs to
act fast. Democracy does not like ugliness: Ugliness must be exposed
to give chance to democracy to choose from the good, the bad, and
the ugly. Democracy under threat in Sierra Leone is democracy under
threat everywhere.

THE END

Karamoh Kabba
Comm. & Media – PMDC-USA

Foday Mansaray
Public Relations – APC-USA

 

SLPP. Kailahun is not your fiefdom

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

By a correspondent :

The beautiful land of Kailahun, home of some of the friendliest and most welcoming Sierra Leoneans has paradoxically always produced some of the vilest and most viperous politicians ever to crawl on our nation’s good earth.

The war criminal Foday Sankoh made Kailahun the headquarters of his sick rebellion and turned it into the poster child of savagery and fiendish barbarism. Even Guinea’s chain-smoking diabetic president felt the need to pinch a piece of Kailahun at Yenga just for the hell of it, eliciting only feeble complaints from the KabbahBerewa kakistocracy.

And now this incompetent SLPP cabal that has done nothing to alleviate the misery of Kailahun has the temerity to declare it their personal property, not a part of a democratic Salone, but their own personal latrine to defecate on and ill-treat.
To enforce their diabolical plans they have unleashed the vile mobsters Foyoh, Benjamin, Karimu and Nyumah to harass political opponents. These reprehensible SLPP desperados attempted to assassinate Charles Margai in the past and have now attacked Ernest Koroma’s convoy at Segbwema. These knaves seem determined to keep Kailahun in the Dark Ages and are ready to do anything, even plunge the country into civil war, to achieve their dastardly goals.

Berewa’s mafia will however fail miserably. The proud people of Kailahun are fed up with the political serfdom designed for them by the SLPP with the complicity of their own native sons. Newsflash SLPP: After ignoring Kailahun district for 10 years, you will not be allowed to come over, pull down your pants and relieve yourself messily over the good people of this noble land. Enough is enough. Shame on you. Stop practising One Party politics in Kenema and Kailahun.

Open petition to Dr. Christiana Thorpe , Chairlady of the NEC : From APC-NA

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

We the members of the APC North America Chapter, speaking on behalf of ourselves and the APC chapters both at Home and in the Diaspora would like to express our concern at the vicious attacks by SLPP supporters on the APC/PMDC campaign team, and the escalating violence between the APC/PMDC campaign team and the SLPP. We further note that another added calamity in this calculus of SLPP orchestrated violence, is the prevention of the APC/PMDC campaign team, from campaigning in the SLPP areas of Kailahun, Kenema and Segbwema, in clear and unequivocal violation of the Electoral Laws Act of 2002.

The incidents occurring in Kenema, and Segbwema are very telling, in that if they could be used as a paradigm of things to come, then we as a nation should expect an escalation of violence on the campaign Trail. Thus, we make this very public appeal to you madam chairlady, for the NEC to make all haste to provide security for the APC/PMDC campaign team to campaign in the areas of Kailahun, Kenema and Segbwema, which is within the spirit of the Electoral Laws Act of 2002.

The following is a rendition of the facts which we believe to be true and from which this very public appeal arises:

In Segbwema today a motorcade of APC/PMDC campaign team was on its way through Segbwema to Kailahun, when it was attacked by SLPP youths armed with rocks and other missiles, and guns. It is our understanding that many vehicles in the APC convoy were destroyed or suffered substantial and material damage. We are informed that the vehicle containing the APC leadership was one such badly damaged vehicle.


We are further informed that the Vehicle belonging to Ernest Koroma, suffered damage to the side glass. The home of a PMDC parliamentarian elect, in Segbwema was burned down. We are further informed that the APC/PMDC campaign team was not allowed entry into the town of Segbwema. We are further informed that although there was police presence, nothing was done to protect the Campaign team and provide an enabling environment for the free and fair exercise of their rights with the spirit of the Electoral laws Act of 2002.

We have further been informed that after the APC campaign team retreated to Kenema. Five miles out of Kenema, the retreating convoy was again stopped by a unit of the Sierra Leone Police force commanded by Local Unit Commander Nabieu, who refused to provide safe passage for the campaign Team. Rather than provide protection and safe passage for the APC convoy, LUC Nabieu ordered that the campaign team should be rerouted through a circuitous route through Panguma.

Negotiations then ensued between the leaders of the Convoy and LUC Nabieu who steadfastly refused to provide protection for the Convoy, until the intervention of the IMATT team which offered to provide Military Protection to the leaders of the APC and PMDC and the campaign convoy.


While driving through Kenema, the convoy was again placed under direct attacks by over vigilant SLPP youths in the presence of members of the Sierra Leone police, who did absolutely nothing to provide protection. Although many vehicles were damaged, including the IMATT vehicles in the convoy, the group was able to make it to the southern capital of BO and relative safety.


Furthermore, We are informed that the campaign team had been threatened with death and destruction, were they to proceed to Kailahun for the purposes of campaigning there.

All of these acts, are clearly in contravention of the Electoral Laws Act of 2002, (hereinafter ELA) and more specifically sections 109 (a)(b)(c)(d) and 110.

Section 109 et seq states as follows:

Prohibition of interference with free political canvassing and campaigning. 109. Any person who— a. Directly or indirectly, by the use of threat or force, violence, sexual harassment or otherwise, prevents the conduct of any political meeting, procession, demonstration or other event of a political nature or any person from attending or participating therein; or b. Creates a material disruption with the intention of preventing a political party from holding a public political meeting; or c. Impedes or prevents or threatens to impede or prevent the right of any representative of any political party to gain access, in the manner and during the hours prescribed, to voters in any particular area, whether public or private, for the purposes of conducting political canvassing or campaigning and of soliciting membership and support; or d. Impedes or threatens to impede or prevent any member of the Electoral Commission, any representative of the Electoral Commission or any other person or organization engaged in voter education to gain access, in the manner and during the hours prescribed, to electors in any particular area, whether public or private, for the purpose of conducting voter education; or
All of these events occurred, and were witnessed by members of the National Democratic Institute a US based Election Monitoring group, European Union, and Reuters.

These developments are troubling and we would like to call the world’s attention, and that of NEC, to the fact that repeatedly, “Agent Provocateurs” of the SLPP have been found to have started violent frays with opposition parties. We believe that Sierra leone and its citizens have a Right to an election free from violence and intimidation. We believe that the NEC has a duty to provide such an enabling environment.

We demand that you madam Chairperson, provide full and unequivocal assurance to the voting public, that the NEC, to the fullest extent of the Law, will prosecute any violations of the Electoral Laws of 2002. We further demand, that you use all of the resources at your disposal to provide support and an enabling environment for ALL political parties to campaign anywhere within the state of Sierra Leone.

To this end, we are asking that the NEC be informed, and that they are charged with providing an enabling environment for the peaceful campaigning of ALL political parties. We in the APC demand that our campaign team MUST be allowed access to Kailahun, Kenema and Segbwema for the purpose of campaigning prior to the Run Off elections which are presently scheduled for September 8, 2007. We further demand that the NEC and the government of Sierra Leone provide safe passage for our campaign team, with military and police escort at all times.

We further demand that the Sierra Leone police force be authorized to make arrests of persons who are in contravention of the section 109 et seq of the ELA of 2002. We further demand that any persons so arrested be booked and made to appear before any courts of competent jurisdiction. We further seek to have the establishment of Section 111 courts with immediate effect to try crimes presently committed in violation of ELA.

We remain pregnant with expectation that our very reasonable demands would be reviewed by you madam chairlady, and that efforts be made to provide a remedy with all speed, such that all parties would be provided a fair opportunity to take their message across the length and breadth of our great nation.

Respectfully Submitted:

M. Alieu Iscandari Esq
APC Legal team

Foday Mansaray
PRO

Leslie Allen
Acting Chair

 

UN Secretary General concerned over violence in Sierra Leone

Thursday, August 30th, 2007


Washington, Aug 30 (PTI) Expressing concern over reports of violence in Sierra Leone after the first round of elections, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has urged all political parties and leaders in the country to do “everything necessary” to prevent the situation from escalating.

“The Secretary-General once again commends the people for the peaceful and orderly manner in which the first round of the electoral process was held,” the Secretary General’s Spokesperson said in a Statement.

“He is however concerned about the tensions and violence that have been increasing in Sierra Leone since last week. He calls on the ll parties and their leaders to do everything necessary to prevent the situation from escalating,” the statement said.

The August 11 presidential and parliamentary elections were it’s second since the end of the decade-long civil war in 2002, and the first since the withdrawal of the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) in December 2005.

The UN Security Council earlier this week issued a statement hailing the “exemplary conduct” of Sierra Leoneans during the first round of the polls.

The Council also urged the public to maintain the same sense of purpose, discipline and patience as the electoral process enters it’s final and decisive phase, the run-off in the presidential election on September 8 between Ernest Bai Koroma of the All People’s Congress (APC) and incumbent Vice-President Solomon Berewa of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP). PTI

Presidential Affairs Minister Arrested in Makeni…

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

By our correspondent

Dr. Shekou Sesay,current Minister of Presidential Affairs in the SLPP government with office at the Presidential lodge was arrested and later released in Makeni yesterday while heading for his home town, Kabala in the Koinadugu District.

According to the Local Unit Commander, Mr. Christopher John, the police received intelligence report which they acted on immediately Dr. Shekou Sesay emerged at Makeni, but ended up saying that nothing of police interest was discovered. “We found nothing of police interest so we released him to proceed with his journey” LUC John emphasized.

However, the explanation of the LUC appears to be different from eye witness account. Dr. Sesay was traveling with two military officers, a staff sergeant by the name of Conteh. B.S attached to the Wilberforce Battalion and private Conteh Ballah,and a civilian called Farrah Kamara with four political party’s T-shirt. The civilian Farrah Kamara claimed to be a student of the Milton Margai College of Education when he was apprehended.

When the vehicle was searched by police officers two riffles were discovered, SLRA6222 and SLRA 38794 with four magazines containing twenty bullets each with an addition of two empty magazines.

A UNDP vehicle with registration plate ADG 330 different from the license of the vehicle ACU 041 registered on the 31st January, 2007.

Mr. Kasho Cole, an employee of the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) in Makeni who learnt about the incident and the items discovered in the vehicle with fraudulent registration number plate expressed grave concern, saying that why should military officers be in the company of the Minister of Presidential Affairs contrary to the political party code of conduct.

As if the concern raised by the PPRC staff was not enough to instill fear into the youths at Makeni, journalists and youth organizations in the provincial town of Makeni and its environs are becoming very jittery with the prevailing situation and have equally expressed similar concerns.

When this press crosschecked with the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Brima Acha, he confirmed both the arrest and release of Dr. Sesay, stating that the military officers were provided to him by the Chief of Defense Staff, Brigadier Sam M,boma. When our reporter contacted the Chief of Defence Staff for comment one of his aides said he was at a meeting, but would return the call which he failed to do up to press time.

Mr. Acha Kamara said that the police are responsible to provide security for all Government Ministers and dignitaries “I don’t know why he was provided with military officers instead of police officers” Acha queried.

According to reporter Mbanga, when the arrest of Dr. Sesay was made yesterday afternoon, several telephone calls were made from state house by senior government officials urging his immediate release, but could not tell which of the government official made the calls. He however cited the telephone call from the office of the Inspector General of Police instructing junior police officers to release the government Minister. It is not known why the Presidential Affairs Minister was using vehicle with fake registration number plate and why the UNDP released one of its numerous vehicle to him.