Julius Maada Bio, Sierra Leone president, has formally accused the principal opposition party of organising a series of violent incidents which skyrocketed an expanding political argument that risks undermining the country’s efforts to contain the Coronavirus outbreak.
At least 18 people have been killed in three riots in different parts of the country recently, including a public disorder at Freetown central prison on April 29 after a prisoner tested positive for Covid-19.
Sierra Leone President Bio, in a televised address, accused the members of the All People’s Congress (APC) party to be behind the violence.
“These attacks are hence premeditated, orchestrated, and executed with a clear goal – to make the country ungovernable,” he declared in the unscheduled broadcasted a few days ago.
The APC has rejected the accusations. “These president claims are shocking,” party spokesman Sidi Yayah Tunis affirmed.
It was only last week when the United Nations reinforced the importance for the authorities and all political parties to work together to avoid distracting from the fight against the virus, which has so far infected 291 people and killed 17.
Since then, two prominent opposition members have been incarcerated without charge. Amnesty International and local rights groups have called for their immediate release without success.
Without referring to specific occasions, Bio said any recent arrests were not politically motivated but linked to investigations into the violence. The officers will take further steps to protect the safety and rule of law for every citizen’s safety, he said, without adding supplementary details.
As part of the national response to the pandemic outbreak, courts have been shut down and those considered to be serious offenders were held without bail, the chief justice ruled a few weeks ago.
The APC and Bio’s Sierra Leone People’s Party have been opponents for a very long time now.
Indeed, it is widely known that after beating an APC candidate to the presidency in 2018, former president Bio threw a suppression on alleged graft which resulted in numerous APC ministers’ imprisonments.