Police summons Sierra Leone’s opposition leader.
By KEMO CHAM in Freetown
The police in Sierra Leone have ‘invited’ the presidential flag bearer of the main opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP), (rtd) Brigaider Julius Maada Bio, over allegations he made about rearmament of ex-combatants.
The case has occasioned a tense atmosphere in fear of confrontation between the two main political parties ahead of elections this November.
The SLPP presidential aspirant who is also a former junta leader issued a press release at the beginning of last week in which he accused the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) party of “exporting” and “rearming” ex-combatants in opposition strongholds with the intent of causing violence.
The statement claims operatives within the governing party, naming specifically the Defense and Internal Affairs ministers, have embarked on transporting the ex-combatants from different parts of the country to register as voters in towns in the southern and eastern provinces (opposition strongholds), and that the ex-combatants are being armed with weapons and other offensive instruments.
It added that foreign nationals and ex-combatants from neighbouring countries (Liberia and Guinea) are also being transported into the country.
The government reacted angrily to the statement, and it has said it is considering legal suit.
Inspector General of Police, Francis Munu, described the matter as a “big national concern”. He said the Sierra Leone police took “these allegations very seriously” as they have the “potential to subvert the security interests of the state as they are likely to generate feelings of hatred…”
The police chief said they want to talk to Bio to help them get relevant information on his allegations. But SLPP supporters have raised suspicion over the possibility of detaining their flag bearer.
“We want Mr Bio to throw more light on the press release. We can obtain statement from him at any place where he feels comfortable,” the head of the Criminal Investigations Department, Chief Superintendent Alfred Karrow Kamara, said Friday.
“We are treating him as complainant and not as suspect in the ongoing investigation,” the CID boss said.
Defense minister Alfred Paulo Conteh was quoted promising to resign if an investigation found him involved in any such act.