Sierra Leone
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At mile 38 checkpoint: APC accuses police of ‘attempted assassination’ but police says otherwise

By Hassan Gbassay Koroma

The country’s main opposition All People’s Congress (APC) has accused the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) of attempting to assassinate their leader and presidential candidate, Dr. Samura Wilson Kamara.

The APC also accused the ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) of increasing the use of state institutions especially the police and the military against their party, its leadership and supporters. 

WHAT HAPPENED: On Sunday, April 2nd  Dr. Kamara’s convoy was  reportedly blocked at  Mile 38 Checkpoint  by the Sierra Leone Police. The said degenerated into a confrontation between law enforcement officers and supporters of the APC party.

THE APC CLAIMS: According to a press statement from the APC, Dr. Kamara arrived at the Freetown International Airport last Saturday April 1, in the evening. and accompanied by an orderly coterie of peaceful and unarmed supporters, was driving to Freetown when armed police and military personnel stopped the convoy  of their  presidential candidate, accosted  him and his entourage with teargas and live ammunition.

The APC noted that they were very concerned about the arrest of some of their  supporters at the scene and their more concern was the deliberate firing of teargas canisters under the vehicle carrying their Leader and Presidential Candidate but more so the firing of live rounds in his presence and at the tyres of vehicles belonging to his aides.

“The APC believes that this was an assassination attempt, which could have gone terribly wrong if it were not for the peaceful nature of our leader and his patriotic and mature handling of the unfortunate and irresponsible behaviour of the police,” they stated.

 They further stated that even though the Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone (ECSL) has not announced the dates for political campaigns, the incumbent presidential candidate and his ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) officials are all over the country, openly campaigning without any hindrance.

They further stated that while they strongly condemned the assassination attempt on their leader and presidential candidate, they are proud of their Leader’s patriotism and leadership in effectively diffusing such unprovoked animosity and potentially explosive situation

They sated that less than three months to the nations presidential and general elections; it is extremely troubling that the ruling party could instigate such attitudes that clearly threaten the peace and stability of the beloved nation.

They however, demanded the immediate release of all their supporters that were arrested at the scene, and call a speedy and conclusive investigation of those involved in the Mile 38 obstruction and disturbances.

WHAT THE POLICE SAYS:  The Sierra Leone Police also issued a press release in which they accused the APC of defying police instructions and went into physical confrontation with the police.

“The leadership of the SLP wishes to inform the general public that on today’s date (02/04/2023), Dr.  Kamara left Lungi with a ten vehicle convoy, whilst the SLP provided security coverage. The number of vehicles on his convoy kept increasing along the way. By the time the convoy reached Mile 38 Checkpoint, the vehicles on the convoy were over fifty and the Police had to halt their movements, with the view to engage the team, in respect of the gentleman’s agreement,” the police press release stated.

They said whilst the Police insisted that the gentleman’s agreement must be adhered to, Dr. Kamara and team, on the other hand, defiantly told the Police that they must allow all the vehicles on the convoy to pass through the Checkpoint to Freetown.

They noted that some of the overzealous supporters in the convoy even removed shirts and physically confronted the Police and at that point, the Police had to disperse the crowd to restore law and order and reopen the route to normal traffic.

“The Management of the SLP would like to state that they will continue to be fair to all citizens and political parties at all times and to inform the public that the incumbent government has always obtained due clearances for all political meetings and welcoming ceremonies in the past and we intend to keep it that way. This is the only way the SLP is able to preposition resources and provide adequate security as and when required,” the SLP stated.

VOICE OF CSOs: The Executive Director of Centre for Accountability and the Rule of Law (CARL-SL), Ibrahim Tommy, on Radio Democracy ‘Good Morning Program, condemned the action of the police of wanting to stop the convoy of Dr. Kamara.

He described the action of the police as unnecessary and stated that they should have amicably settled their differences instead of hiking the tension.