RE-ARMAMENT, DEPLOYMENT AND REGISTRATION OF EX- COMBATANTS IN THE SOUTH AND EASTERN PROVINCES
Freetown, February 5, 2012: It has come to the attention of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) that the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) has embarked on transporting ex-combatants from different parts of the country to register in towns in the South and the Eastern Provinces, the strongholds of the Opposition SLPP. Ex-combatants armed with weapons and other offensive instruments have already been ferried to Moyamba, Bo, Kenema, Pujehun, Kailahun and Zimmi. In addition, foreign nationals and ex-combatants from neighbouring countries are also being transported by Sierra Leone’s Ambassadors accredited to those countries for the purpose of swelling APC votes in the elections.
In all places where ex-combatants have been deployed, the indigenes of those towns have expressed fear and have made formal complaints to the local police stations. Unfortunately, the Police have refused to take action and have insisted that the ex-combatants have the right to register wherever they wish. The APC has rented houses in all these locations for these ex-combatants where they are intimidating the local inhabitants.
This cross district and regional registration is not without sinister motive on the part of the APC. First, the APC intends to provoke violence in the strongholds of the Opposition during the campaign to have an excuse for declaring a State of Emergency and thereby extending the tenure of the President beyond his five year term. Second, the APC intends to provoke violence in the SLPP strongholds during the campaign and blame it on our Party supporters to have an excuse for mass arrests of our Party stalwarts. Third, the APC intends to use these ex-combatants to create mayhem thereby preventing supporters of the SLPP from voting, whilst voting would proceed smoothly in their own strongholds.
The SLPP will like to inform the public that it has raised this matter with the National Electoral Commission (NEC) at the Political Parties Liaison Committee (PPLC) meeting held on Wednesday February 1, 2012. The Commission condemned the act. Disappointingly, however, despite public knowledge of this deployment of ex-combatants and their registration in Southern and Eastern towns, the Commission is yet to issue a public statement on the matter.
The SLPP is most disturbed that this remobilization, rearming, systematic deployment and registration of ex-combatants is fully financed and supported by official agents of the Government, spearheaded by the Minister of Defence and Minister of Internal Affairs, contrary to all previous disarmament obligations of the Government.
The SLPP is therefore calling on NEC not to register any such ex-combatants except in their usual places of abode. We also call on the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC), Civil Society Organisations, and our Development Partners to take appropriate action to ensure that these ex-combatants are not registered outside their places of abode.
The SLPP is formally requesting UNIPSIL to kindly transmit this Press Statement to the Security Council of the United Nations and the International Criminal Court (ICC) and to draw the attention of these bodies to the potential danger that this extant action of the Government poses to the credibility of the forthcoming elections as well as the peace and security of the State of Sierra Leone
Brigadier (Rtd.) Julius Maada Bio
SLPP Presidential Nominee for the 2012 Presidential Elections
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