March 25, 2023

The ‘PAOPA’ phenomenon is still a threat to the nation and the people of Sierra Leone, who must find ways to stop it. It will continue to weaken the pillars of peace and strengthen the pillars of conflict if allowed to thrive. The ‘PAOPA’ ideology was adopted by SLPP to win the 2018 election, and they must not be allowed to use the same model to win 24 June 2023 elections.

Sierra Leone is a civilised and democratic nation, and the laws and law enforcers must not allow a few people to hijack the peace of the state.

The United Nations, the AU, ECOWAS, MRU and other members of the international community should not sit by and allow Sierra Leone to be dragged to another conflict. The country is heading for another all-out conflict if measures are not taken to reverse the trend of violence.

In as much as we are aware that non-interference into member states’ internal affairs is a key  principle that guides international relations, the people of Sierra Leone however are calling on world bodies to reconsider this principle. The international community must be pro-active in the maintenance of global peace and security.

It must make necessary and expedient rules that where a country is exhibiting signs of war, it is imperative for the international community to intervene and make a difference. Events on the country’s political landscape are signs that mime the 1994 Rwanda genocide in which 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus lost their lives.

The UN Force Commander, Romeo Dallier who foresaw the doomsday in the tiny African country appealed to the international community to change his mandate from peace keeping to peace enforcement so that he could search homes and confiscate cutlasses which already had been kept for use in the genocide.

The UN and other global bodies failed to respond to the Dallier’s call, and in a day, the bloodbath unfolded.

‘Kill the cockroaches and cut down the tall trees’ was a statement that sent irate crowds to one of Africa’s deadliest violence that still lingers in the annals of world history.

When world leaders met at the UN after the brutal massacre in Rwanda, one of the most mind-boggling questions was: where was the international community when the carnage was taking place in Rwanda? An answer to this question was not readily available, but it was thought-provoking.

It compelled world bodies to change their scope and style of operation to prevent nations from falling into deadly conflicts. The world witnessed ECOWAS’ intervention in Liberia in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s to restore peace there. The world also saw another ECOWAS intervention in Sierra Leone to bring peace to a war-torn nation.

The world also saw ECOWAS’ role in the Gambia where Yayah Jammeh who had ruled for 20 years was in no mood to relinquish power after he was defeated in the ballot box. The world also saw AU’s peace missions in Sudan and Somalia where African soldiers are currently struggling to restore peace after years of civil wars.

These interventions are necessary, but they are more necessary when done pro-actively. Sierra Leone’s situation calls for the international community to intervene before it is too late. Let us do away with the non-interference principle; let us do away with the sovereignty principle to save Sierra Leone.

Brutal events that unfolded yesterday on the arrival of the newly elected APC flagbearer, Dr Samura Kamara foretell danger in the June elections. Senior APC officials including the Secretary-General, Lansana Dumbuya were allegedly physically assaulted by guards at State Lodge claiming to have acted upon orders from President Bio. His driver too was maltreated, and images on social media showed serious injuries to his back.

Supporters of SLPP and APC were nearly at each other’s throats at Calaba Town in eastern Freetown, until police fired teargas to disperse the crowds. The situation deteriorated to an extent that police officers were dragged into the conflict. The men in uniform were about to fight each other had the situation deteriorated further.

Even the army are divided, another danger signal for the peace of the state. ‘PAOPA,’ in its embryonic stage was a development strapline: ‘PAOPA’ Salone For Betteh’.

In his April 2018 handing over notes, President Ernest Bai Koroma referred to ‘PAOPA’ as Prompt Action For Poverty Alleviation. It was after SLPP (Sierra Leone People’s Party) took over state governance that the term got the real meaning of violence. It later came to be understood that ‘PAOPA’ is about the forceful acquisition and exercise of power to achieve political end. It rhymes the Machiavellian political philosophy.

For peace and security, ‘PAOPA’ must be stopped and defeated before elections, or Sierra Leone is sacrifices on the altar of bloodshed.