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APC Office Tear Gassing is Bad Leadership

By Abdul Suhood Komeh,

London, UK.

Firing of tear gases by the Sierra Leone police at the offices of the opposition APC in Freetown is cowardly, dangerous, inflammatory, unprofessional, and so on - the most dispiriting optics for democratic hopes.

This comes only a few days after a government-commissioned conference on peace in the country. We never learn. Experience, even the most grotesque, is no lesson for our selfish leaders.

The fact is this. Nothing, absolutely nothing, squirt, was revealed at that ‘peace’ event that was not already known. And no solutions were put forward, that were hidden from basic reasoning, prior to the conference. And that is because Sierra Leone’s problems have one source, and one source only: lack of leadership; the political will to do things differently for the benefit of the country as a whole.

It’s moronic, and as authoritarian as can be, to attempt to disperse people already encamped at a building. Of which both its occupants and owners are known and can be held responsible. Why resort to violence? The head of the Sierra Leone police must be held fully accountable for the behaviour of his officers. But again he owes his ascent to the president, and therefore his services are primarily to him and the SLPP.

Surely, the APC can dance and sing - whether in defiance or protest - at the residence of their party, without being shot at by the police. If we cannot as a country manage that, we have no chance. Even if the APC were to do so on public space. As long as they pose no tangible threat to general peace, the security force should be capable of restraint. If only to prove that at its head is competent leadership.

It matters very little, what the APC leadership did in the past. If you are in control now, law, order and a fair arrival at, and distribution of justice is your responsibility.

Maada Bio must now prove his interest is not just on becoming, but being president. He can show leadership and condemn an attack against his opponents, unequivocally. He can even order an inquiry into the matter to prove he understands, that injustice does not and cannot deliver peace - that’s the mettle of leadership. Does he have it? I doubt it, and so do a lot of people.

The president of the Sierra Leone Bar Association, Basita Michael was right. ‘You cannot use past wrongs to justify more wrong’. In other words, striking a conciliatory tone only when it suits you, is hypocritical. Especially if when tested you are more than prepared to bulldoze and stretch conventions - moral and legal - to prevail.

The issue, always, is whether the two leading parties have the moral rectitude to lead, and steer the country away from a repeat of the 1990s, as a result of the recklessness of the 70s and 80s. Sadly, the new government is found woefully wanting, window-dressing ’peace’ conferences or not.

‘In framing a government, you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself’, - James Madison.