Have The CSOs And PPRC Gone On Vacation?

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By Mohamed Sankoh (One Drop)

In today’s One Dropian dropping; I will not write about the latest Amnesty International Report on Sierra Leone which shows the gloomy human rights record of the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP)—making the last two Scorecards of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), on the country, appear to look like sexed-up data doctored in the offices of the Centre for Accountability and the Rule of Law (CARL) and the Institute for Governance Reform (IGR). 

I will not write about the European Parliament’s Annual Report 2022, on Sierra Leone, which seems to infer that the Bio-led administration’s notion about the practice of human rights and democracy should be compared to how Vladimir Putin practised them in Russia. In fact, the SLPP government appears to look like a miniature of Putin’s!

And I won’t even write about the United States of America’s State Department’s “2022 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices in Sierra Leone”; because in it the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) appear to look like a sort of modern day version of the Gestapo in Nazi Germany or the far-right paramilitary Death Squads in El Salvador of old. The police’s various “peacekeeping missions” in the north-western strongholds of the main opposition, the All People’s Congress (APC), have always been footnoted or bibliograph-ied by what seems to be extra-judicial killings!

And in the whirlwinds of these three international hyper-credible Reports, CARL is quietly quiet like a centenarian tomb while IGR has directed its indefatigable energy elsewhere. To these two so-called “independent” think tanks on “Accountability” and “Governance Reform[s]”; it is as if these three latest credible international Reports on the SLPP government’s ominous human rights record and its bastardizations of democratic tenets do not exist. Probably, just a probability, CARL and IGR might have raised these issues, in camera, with some top Government’s functionaries at either the Roof Garden Restaurant at Wilkinson Road or the Papa Cliff Beach Bar at Aberdeen in Freetown! But I’m still waiting for them to do so on camera. Ibrahim Tommy of CARL and Andrew Lavalie of IGR will not disappoint me. That I know for sure. They might soon find their pre-Maada Bio presidency energy—the same energy they had during the erstwhile government of Ernest Bai Koroma!

But for the moment, let me go to another issue which has become an issue of the day despite it seems to be a non-issue to either CARL or IGR. First Lady Fatima Bio, on 19 March 2023, made what appeared to look like flammable statements while she was in Kailahun District, eastern Sierra Leone, on one of her “meet-the-people” tours which she and her husband suddenly realised are now hyper-important than overseas travels.  

According to a press release by the APC, dated 23 March 2023, “In a video and audio clip being shared widely on social media, the First Lady uttered, amongst many other things, that the APC did not conduct elections during [its] National Delegates’ Conference (NDC) but rather did selection of National Officers, that all [its] National Officers with the exception of two are from villages along Kamakwie Road, that former President Koroma had stated that Kono does not ‘matter’ (is irrelevant), that Former President Koroma has said that he has made sure that the East is not part of the APC, that [its] entire National Executive consists of only Lokos and Limbas, and most dangerously that APC should not be allowed to have party offices in the East…”

Even though the leadership of the APC has brought it to the notice of the Political Parties Regulation Commission (PPRC) since those statements were made; the PPRC has been eerily quiet. Despite the fact that such statements from Fatima Bio are in direct contravention of Section 39 (1) of the Political Parties Act 2022 which states that, “A political party, including its members, supporters, candidates and operatives shall not be involved in the use of incendiary and inciting statements, including hate speech against political opponents”; the PPRC is yet to reprimand her for such flippancies!

And when one juxtaposes the First Lady’s statement about not allowing the APC to have offices in the southern and eastern parts of the country with President Bio’s urging south-easterners to “protect their votes” because he would not guarantee the security forces to do that for them; then the silence of the PPRC and some Civil Society Organizations like CARL and IGR is worrisome. It is worrisome because those two seemingly combustible and inciting statements, from the First Gentleman and First Lady of the state, could be likened to some of the statements made by some politicians on Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) prior to the Rwandan genocide of 1994.

But since such seemingly incendiary and inciting statements are not coming from APC politicians; the PPRC, CARL and IGR appear to have been anesthetized to be in a state of inertia. Even though they know that such statements will expose the APC, “its property, membership and supporters in the East to hate, possible attacks and destruction” (according to the APC press release of 23 March 2023); our Civil Society-dom and the expected arbitrator, the PPRC, are conspiratorially quiet!  Does that mean what is bad for the APC and its members must be good for the SLPP and its members?

My concern here is the factual fact that if the PPRC is the arbitrator for all political parties; if CARL is claiming to be concerned about national issues that have to do with “accountability and the rule of law”, and if the IGR is concerned mainly with surveys that have to do with good “governance reforms”; then the latest credible Reports by Amnesty International, the European Parliament, and the US’ State Department, coupled with the seemingly fire-starting and rabble-rousing statements by the First Lady in Kailahun District, should be of great concern to them. But since they appear to believe that what is good for the cow will give the heifer a running stomach, they appear to be looking sideways each time the SLPP government violates citizens’ fundamental human rights or every time SLPP functionaries make statements that have the tendency of evoking the spectre of the 1994 Rwandan genocide!

It is on that note that I will end today’s One Dropian dropping with a Masai proverb that says, “Baboons do not go far from the place of their birth”. The inference here is that because Andrew Lavalie of the IGR and the PPRC Chairman, Abdulai M. Bangurah, are alleged to have once been party-card holders of the Sierra Leone People’s Party; I do not expect them to criticize the SLPP government even if its senior operatives bring down the heavens. Why not? Because they know that the chickens will one day have to go home to roost!

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