In other security-relted news from Sierra Leone, VOA reports that Victor Foe, the Secretary-General of the country's governing All People’s Congress (APC) party, has reaffirmed that the government of President Ernest Bai Koroma is committed to holding free, fair, and non-violent elections in November. Foe’s comment came after the UN Security Council last week advised the government not to over-react to security threats after its reported purchase of assault weapons for the West African nation's police force.
The opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) had accused the government of trying to intimidate its members ahead of the November 17 elections.
The APC's Foe firmly rejected the allegation, saying the opposition should look for a better message to counter Koroma’s record on socioeconomic development.
Foe said the government is being proactive by preparing for war in time of peace.
Police Force Doubled in Size
“The police force was only 5,000 in number" Foe explained. "Now, the police have grown in number to 11,000. That is more than a 100 percent increase. So, they have to be armed; they have to be provided with boots, uniforms and all of that. So, bringing in arms is not necessarily an unusual thing. It is merely the usual thing, to be proactive."
Foe said the elections should be a referendum on Koroma’s first term in office.
“The opposition ought to do their homework," Foe said. "President Ernest Bai Koroma has done a good four-year, five-year term of office. I believe the elections [in] 2012 should be a referendum on what he has been doing in his first term in office."
Regional Security Threats Noted
Foe stressed that Koroma is not afraid of elections, and not interested in intimidating an opposition that Foe described as a fragile group that is losing its membership by the day. [Foreign Confidential™ sources in Sierra Leone confirm that the SLPP is suffering mass defections as Koroma's popularity seems to be rising along with increased foreign investment in mining, agriculture, tourism and other sectors of the economy.]
Foe said current upheavals in the West Africa sub-region give are reasons for Sierra Lone to prepare for war in time of peace.
“Look at what is happening in the sub-region," Foe said. "Look at what has happened in Mali. Look at what is happening all around us. Do [you] want to tell me that President Ernest Bai Koroma’s government must sit idly by and not arm the police, who are in charge of internal security and military, who are charge of external security?”