By John Bangura
The violence perpetrated by supporters of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) against supporters of the All Peoples Congress (APC) in Kenema has put the country on edge.
Reports say Makeni and Magburaka, the Northern districts headquarter towns of Bombali and Tonkolili, are presently under curfew as police are desperately putting measures to protect SLPP supporters and people from the east from mob attacks.
On Thursday 4th April 2018, supporters of the SLPP went on the rampage in Kenema, burning down houses of APC supporters and attacking police personnel. In Freetown, SLPP supporters destroyed the market stalls of traders who are mostly Northerners.
A police officer is reported dead.
Mohamed Turay, a resident of Makeni, said the action by supporters of the SLPP in Kenema isn’t the first one, claiming that it is a common practice in Kenema.
“People from the North are always targeted during elections and during riots,” he said, adding that they want to send a message to the SLPP that they will not sit down while their people residing in the east of the country are constantly targeted and their houses burnt.
The Office of the President on Thursday appealed to all those engaged in intimidation and disorderly conduct to desist forthwith.
Augustine Andrew, a teacher, and resident in Freetown said the violence by supporters of the SLPP is broadening the tribal and regional divide in the country and that with what has just happened the new president has so much to do to bridge the gap.
“Every sector in the country is divided. The media, civil society, and even the public sector,” he noted.
Few practicing journalists are imploring the SLPP to restrain supporters from carrying out actions that may derail national cohesion and development.
According to Martha Kargbo, a talk show host in Freetown, she has received several complaints of some people of being threatened for their jobs, also claiming members of the SLPP are instructing affiliate media institutions not to cover or air anything about opposition parties, a failure which will lead to dismissal or demotion of the officials of the media institutions.