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Pre-Election Political Rhetoric Heats Up in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's President Ernest Bai Koroma
Sierra Leone's President Ernest Bai Koroma

The opposition SLPP charges ruling APAC with ferrying people from outside country into SLPP strongholds ahead of November’s election

The National Secretary-General of the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) said his party is making preparations for the country’s presidential election slated for November this year.

But, Sulaiman Banja Tejan-Sie said the party is concerned that the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) party is bringing in people from outside the country into SLPP strongholds.

He said the SLPP has appealed to civil society groups and the international community to impress upon the government the need for free, fair and non-violent elections.

“Our party is well-prepared for those elections, but we have certain concerns, as we speak, regarding preparation for the election. Among the concerns we have is the fact that we have had evidence of the governing All People’s Congress party ferrying people from across the borders into our strongholds,” he said.

Tejan-Sie said those allegedly being brought into SLPP areas are coming from both within and outside Sierra Leone’s international borders.

“We are concerned about the ferrying of Sierra Leoneans and non-Sierra Leoneans from neighboring Guinea and neighboring Liberia into our stronghold, especially in the Pujehun District,” Tejan-Sie said.

He said the SLPP is not opposed to Sierra Leoneans living in neighboring countries coming home to register to vote. But, Tejan-Sie said they should go back to their original districts.

Tejan-Sie said the SLPP is also concerned about the government deploying ex-combatants in SLPP stronghold, a move he said is intended to create chaos on Election Day and to intimidate SLPP voters from voting.

Victor Foe, Secretary-General of the ruling All People’s Congress party said those the SLPP considers to be foreigners are really Sierra Leoneans living in Guinea who want to come home to register for the election.

Foe said the SLPP is fabricating stories because it knows it cannot win elections in Sierra Leone.

“The Secretary-General is not telling the truth. They are falling from grace; they are not popular; the people have rejected them, which is why they causing trouble. The opposition cannot win election anywhere in this country. They are falling from the favor of the people, so they are just trying to cause confusion,” Foe said.

Foe said the ruling APC will win November’s election by a landslide.

“Of course we will win. We don’t even imagine. We don’t even guess. We will never get involved in any election fraud. The people of this country will massively vote for the APC,” Foe said.

Tejan-Sie said the opposition SLPP wants to lead Sierra Leone again because the ruling APC has failed the people in several areas.

“Especially in the management of the economy, in the management of our natural resources, in fighting corruption, providing healthcare, and good education for our people. We think they have failed, especially when it comes to bread and butter issues,” Tejan-Sie said.

But, Foe said Sierra Leoneans rejected what he called the failed policies of the SLPP in the 2007 election.