Sierra Leone’s opposition parties in a battle of words in the Associated Press

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A war of words has ignited another round of accusations and threats from Sierra Leone’s leading political parties. This new bout began when opposition leader Maada Bio accused the ruling APC party of inciting violence. The most serious of his accusations is that the APC is using  ex-combatants to create mayhem thereby preventing supporters of the SLPP from voting, while voting proceeds smoothly in their own [APC] strongholds”. Bio further added that the government wants to increase cases of violence so that it can declare a state of emergency thus preventing SLPP supporters from registering to vote.

In response to the accusations made in the Associated Press, the Minister of Information, IB Kargbo, has threatened to sue Mr Bio under the nation’s archaic seditious libel laws if he does not provide proof of his claims. This is “an attempt to tarnish the image and good works” of the government, Kargbo said.

There has been no reported evidence in the local media to confirm the complaints of the SLPP. However, devout supporters of the SLPP would probably argue that the press have been bought by the ruling APC.

As voters continue to register for the November elections the accusations will continue on both sides. It seems as though both the SLPP and the APC are in a battle to bias the international community in their favor

Without evidence to substantiate Mr. Bio’s claims why was the AP so quick to publish the story? At minimum, they should have reached out to the government for a statement before they did so. But I guess bad news like the prospect of violence in Sierra Leone whether real or perceived makes for lots of web traffic. The AP was forced to amend the article after it was contacted by APC government watch dogs in New York.

Sierra Leone is going to need a large monitoring team on the ground before and after the elections to ensure that the country does not become another Ivory Coast.  But most importantly, the Military and the Police need to be independent, and protect ordinary citizens above all else.