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Sierra Leone Police Imposed Curfew on Eastern Town Due to New Violence

As Sierra Leone prepares for next Saturday’s presidential run-off elections between Vice President Solomon Berewa and opposition candidate Ernest Koroma, Sierra Leone police say they are investigating reports renewed violence among rival political parties.

The latest reports which have yet to be confirmed, say rival supporters of the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and the opposition All People’s Party (APC) have been burning down houses in the eastern town of Segbwema. Opposition candidate Ernest Koroma has been campaigning in the eastern province this week.

Police also say they have imposed a curfew in the eastern town of Kailahun. Chris Charlie is assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of professional standards and the media. From the capital, Freetown, he told VOA that an investigation of renewed violence is being conducted.

“Indeed there were some skirmishes between rival parties in Segbwema in the afternoon hours, the 30th of August 2007. But as I am talking to you now I have confirmed with the regional commissioner in the eastern province that even the assertion that SLPP party building was burned to the ground is not true, and she has yet to confirmed to us here in Freetown whether other buildings have been gutted,” he said.

Inspector Charlie said the Sierra Leone national police have been working around the clock to protect all candidates during the election.

“Our presence is all over the provinces, especially in that part of the country (the eastern province). What I want you to know is that yesterday Mr. Ernest Koroma and his whole team were enroute to Kailahun after traveling from Kenema, the police have ensured that he was provided with the best security. So our presence is felt all over the place. As I am talking with you, the police in Kailahun have declared immediate curfew for people to stay into their homes rather than go out because there were some threats this evening for the native Poro Devil (the secret association for men in Mende society) to come out in the streets,” Charlie said.

He said the police could not confirm whether it were APC supporters or SLPP supporters who were responsible for the alleged violence.

“We can only determine that one when there is a full-scale investigation, which the regional commissioner in the south and eastern provinces has now mounted. As I speak to you, we have authorized her today to send an investigating team to Segbwema to unravel the truth because most times during this period you have reports and counter-reports from rival political parties. And we have the arduous task to investigate speedily the allegations and come out with our findings before we can categorically lay blame on x, y, z party or not,” Charlie said.