The spokesman for the Presidential candidate of the All Peoples Congress (APC) Alpha Kanu has at a Press conference convened at their Party Headquarters explained why their leader Ernest Bai Koroma boycotted the planned peace rally on Thursday.
Addressing Journalists, Hon. Alpha Kanu said “we derive no joy from the fact that our leader did not participate in this rally”
He explained that in the electioneering process leading to the run-off on Saturday, series of violent actions targeted at the members of the APC, were perpetrated by supporters of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP).
Spokesman Kanu called these alleged attacks “blatant acts of harassment, intimidation, provocation and actual physical attacks, whose sole objectives are to disrupt the forthcoming elections.”
Kanu maintained that after the massive defeat of the SLPP by the APC which saw the ruling party’s share of Parliamentary seats drop from 83 to 43 against the APC party’s 59 and trailing in the Presidential poll with only 38.3% of valid votes cast, the SLPP is frantically devising diverse ways, including violence, to rig the elections in order to perpetuate themselves in power.
He explained how President Kabbah, summoned a special meeting of the two Presidential candidates Solomon Ekuma Berewa of the SLPP and Hon. Ernest Bai Koroma of the APC to prepare a road map to free, fair and credible run-off elections devoid of violence on Sunday 2nd September 2007.
The spokesman stated that the meeting was held at Presidential Lodge culminated in the signing of a communiqué by the two Presidential candidates and President Kabbah.
The communiqué he said called for the ferreting out of all unauthorized military training cells and the discontinuation of all Kamajor initiation ceremonies for subversive purposes.
Also included in the communiqué was a call for the arrest and prosecution of supporters of political parties who obstruct and prevent rival political party members from campaigning in any part of the country through acts of violence and intimidation.
Alpha Kanu lamented that despite the communiqué, yesterday was the last day for canvassing and Kailahun District in the East was still a no-go-area for the APC.
He alleged that in Kenema, Kono, Moyamba, Bonthe, Pujehun and Bo Districts supporters of the APC were being harassed, intimated and sometimes forced to leave their homes with the intention of preventing them from voting in the run-off “these are a great disadvantage to the APC whose strongholds in the North and Western Area are open for all parties to campaign freely”
Spokesman Kanu stated that Hon. Ernest Koroma finds this situation totally unacceptable and until this situation is properly addressed and all terms in the communiqué are fully adhered to, he will not participate in any peace rally “for this will only be seen as a whitewash.”
In another development almost simultaneously a press conference was held at State House by advisers to the President and chaired by Information Minister Prof. Septimus Kaikai.
Dr Ramadan Dumbuya explained what the President did to bring the two presidential candidates together reading out a letter sent by Ernest Bai Koroma complaining about harassment of his supporters in Kailahun and other places and also another letter written by Vice President Berewa responding to the allegations and also making fresh allegations of his own and the reply to Ernest’s letter by President Kabbah.
For his part, Dr Sama Banya also made fresh allegations about 13 men being arrested in Kono when they were found to be dressed in black and armed with offensive weapons, and also that villagers in Mende Gboyeima had also in the early hours of the morning stumbled on men dressed in black.
The question of Kamajor training in the Moyamba district also came up during question time, and Chris Jassabee another of President Kabbah’s advisers tried to explain that the SLPP did meet the Kamajors though were not soliciting their armed support.
Questioned what moves the President had taken since the peace march was aborted, Dr Sama Banya replied that we had to look to the international community and civil society to appeal to the supporters of the two political parties to be peaceful.