Sierra Leone: SLAJ Urges BioTo Adopt Conciliatory Tone In Response To Recent Unrest

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) Ahmed Sahid Nasralla

President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) Ahmed Sahid Nasralla has called on President Julius Maada Bio to approach the August 10th violent incidents in the country in a conciliatory tone adding the first gentleman should be the last person to get angry if he wanted to get angry at all.

Ahmed Sahid Nasralla made this statement on Thursday, 18th August, whilst speaking at the CSO’s and Media dialogue with President Julius Maada Bio at State House on reflections on the August 10th violent protest in the country.

‘’Tell your people that you understand the problems of this country and you are doing something about that. Tell them in the language they understand. And stressed that, that doesn’t mean people should take the law into their hands,’’ he said.

Nasralla praised the president’s meeting with stakeholder groups in the country which he said ‘’ this is the way to go’’ calling on citizens and everyone to play a role in addressing the challenges we are facing as a nation thus stating we all should take responsibility for what has happened from the government, the opposition, the security sector, the media, CSOs, traditional and religious leaders, and Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora.

‘’In the midst of our problems let us sit down and talk. Lek we kin say pa krio- mek we sidon talk man to man. Let us engage. It is not a sign of weakness. It is STRENGTH. You break down recalcitrant and ill-motivated people when you talk with them rather than talk to them or talk at them,’’Nasralla urged Bio.

President Nasralla called on Bio’s government for an independent and impartial inquiry into the incidents of August 10th to get to the bottom of the underlying issues whilst stating that the law take its just course.

‘’Images of the August 18th violent protests were shown on international media screens across the world; and now they are also showing images and reporting news stories of extra judicial killings and unlawful arrests and detention of civilians. This is not good for our country. This is not good for your leadership. Those are the things the international community will use to evaluate us and that is not the Sierra Leone we all know and love,’’ the SLAJ President lamented.

The SLAJ President urged the opposition to change their approach as he said, as opposition, their responsibility is to provide an alternative to the government adding they are a shadow government; a government in waiting.

‘’If government say they are going to build a bridge from Freetown across to Lungi and it will cost us X amount and it will take Y years to complete, we expect our opposition to give us an alternative. Yes, it is good to have a bridge to Lungi but it is a long term project with huge capital. As an opposition, and if we were in government, we will focus on the immediate needs by procuring 2 or 3 ferries; it will cost us less, and it will ease the transportation challenges to and fro Lungi in the interim. This is the kind of opposition we want. ‘Nor to Opposition wea just de go en hol meeting all over the place and fan ethnic rivalry and say den wan ya we de pull dem na power by all means.’’

The SLAJ boss claimed that he don’t remember the opposition condemning and calling on the public to disregard the invectives, inciting audios and videos coming from Adebayor and his likes, all of which basically makes the elected government unpopular and favors them as Opposition.

‘’The Government is stretching its hand for dialogue, reach out and grab it. The role of the Opposition is not to undermine the Government of the day but to work with it in the interest of the general good’’

Commenting on the issue of politics the SLAJ boss further added, as a country we are playing with too much politics saying politics is diverting and distracting the government from focusing on the New Direction that Bio promised his countrymen.

‘’The too much politics is promoting hate and hypocrisy; it is undermining patriotism, nationalism, and peace and national cohesion. The too much politics is eroding our core values of labour and expect, dignity in labour, excellence, dedication to duty, integrity and trust. Let us please de-escalate,’’the SLAJ President urged.

‘’Now to the Sierra Leone Police (SLP): We are all mourning with the SLP. We have lost loved ones. But we should also be concerned about the living. We encourage the SLP to show concern for civilian lives lost and for those that have been arrested and detained. Respect their rights to legal representation and justice,’’

Meanwhile , in his state of the nation address on 12th August , Bio referred to the August 10th incident as an ‘’insurrection’’ which he claimed was executed by clearly identified partisans using the cover of follow-on crowds including children was characterized by targeted killings wanton looting and destruction of property.

Bio added the protest, was not a protest peaceful cost-of-living protest stating it was simply an attack on the peace and security and an attack on the rule of law and an attack on democracy.

‘’On that day, the peace, security, and stability of this nation were shattered
by persons whose insurrection was pre-meditated, well-planned, financed,
and executed with shocking brutality. Before August 10th, they had severally identified themselves on social media as APC Warriors, PPP, and persons who are determined to capture political power even at the cost of hundreds of lives,’’ Bio alleged.

The country’s main opposition party, the All Peoples Congress (APC) have repeatedly denied those allegations that they are a responsible, and law abiding party that respects the rule of law and good governance adding that they are committed to peace and stability in the country.

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