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.
M. Alieu Iscandari Esq
APC Legal team