Threats to the country’s peace and security exist after SLFA (Sierra Leone Football Association) announced the elections in the north-eastern headquaters of Makeni. The elections take place on 4th and 5th June, this year to choose a president for SLFA.
It has been widely reported that the proposed elections could turn violent if held in Makeni owing to the prevailing tension among rival candidates, supporters and groups. Thuggery and physical confrontations could not be ruled out in the coming elections.
Investigation mounted by this press shows that candidates would take along hundreds of supporters to Makeni for election euphoria. The euphoria could undermine peace and security in that part of the country.
With a large crowd of supporters in Makeni, there is a looming threat of thuggery and violence. It is widely expected that the violence would come from supporters of the incumbent, Isha Johansen. The northern and north-western delegates have been steadfast in their support for Madam Johansen who are determined to offer her their votes.
Makeni is also considered a risky place to hold elections as the Mayor, Sunkarie Kamara and Alie commoner have thrown their weight behind the incumbent. The public including observers in the media are concerned about what happened recently in Makeni over the relocation of thermal plant from Makeni to Lungi town by EDSA (Energy Distribution and Supply Agency). The conflicts that occurred between Makeni youths and security operatives led to fatal injury of six youths.
Others were also seriously injured. The wounds inflicted by the armed security personnel are still incurable, and feelings of animosity are still fresh.
The animosity is worsened when dozens of Makeni youths are still behind bars. The tragic episode in Makeni is also widely expected in the forthcoming SLFA elections. Expectations of violence have prompted suggestions for the Office of National Security to order the Electoral Committee Chairman, Oluniyi Robin Koker and the SLFA Secretary-General, Chris Kamara to transfer congress to Freetown for safety concerns.
Principal law enforcement agency, Sierra Leone Police has also been called upon to closely monitor events as they unfold in the SLFA.
The Inspector-General of Police is also specifically urged to take control of the security situation, and prevent a slide into a dangerous conflict. The main aim is to avoid a catastrophe or security crisis that could lead to loss of lives.
It has also been confirmed that APC leadership is less comfortable with the congress in Makeni. Accusing fingers might be pointed at the party for any outbreak of major violence as the hosts are strong APC members.
The likelihood of violence happening in Makeni is great, and the party prefers the transfer of the elections from Makeni to Freetown. An experienced sports journalist in Freetown who has covered four congresses since 2008 has advised this congress which is riddled with signs of violence and thuggery to be held in Freetown.
Freetown is the seat of governance and security and thus the fit place for the elections to be held.
He says: “only a [unconscious] security apparatus will allow this election in Makeni. The danger is there for all to see and the lives of the candidates and delegates will not be protected in Makeni.”
The veteran journalists also suggested that the number of officials should not exceed 200. He said congress should be restricted to the following:
Current SLFA Exco-9 members, Ministry of Sports and National Sports Association-8, a maximum of 5 secretariat staff, Electoral and judicial bodies-23 members, a team of 50 media practitioners, approximately 13 candidates with 2 invitees per candidate.
It is also suggested that extra observers must not be permitted into the hall where elections would be conducted. Thugs most times wear the cloak of observers to cause mayhem.