Sierra Leone
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Dozens of youths arrested by Sierra Leone’s military in the opposition heartland of Makeni

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 10 October 2022:

Dozens of unarmed youths were taken away from a house on the outskirts of the northern city of Makeni by the army, believed to be involved in ‘illegal activity’. The army has not confirmed the nature of the illegal activity, other than to report that the arrested youths spoke Guinean or Malian language.

But critics of the government are accusing the military and police of stoking political tension in the country, and that the arrest was a fabrication by the government, to implicate the main opposition APC party leaders, whom President Bio has branded as terrorists.

Last week, the police in Freetown said at a press conference that it believes there are plans by opposition political parties to cause unrest in the capital, without giving any specific evidence other than social media chit chat.

Some opposition critics say that President Bio himself and senior members of the ruling SLPP are trying to create false instability in the country, so as to declare a state of emergency that could see a whole swathes of opposition politicians arrested and the possible cancellation of local, presidential and general elections next June.

The whereabout of the youths picked up by the army last weekend and carried away in a military truck is unknown. But critics say the whole affair was stage-managed by the authorities to smear the opposition.

Independent investigations into the killing of several unarmed youths by security forces in Makeni have exposed an intolerable level of police brutality and impunity, which was also evident two months ago when dozens of youths taking part in street demonstrations were shot dead by security forces.   The remains of most of those killed are yet to be handed over to families for burial.

Scores of unarmed prisoners were shot dead two years ago at the Pademba Road prison in Freetown by presidential guards. No one in the government or ruling SLPP party has been held accountable, despite several incriminating video and audio evidence suggesting the involvement of senior government ministers and party operatives.