Bio: marked for assassination?
The National Secretary-General of the opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) has named some senior ranking personnel of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) who according to him have plotted to assassinate their presidential candidate, Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio.
Umaru Napoleon Koroma, while speaking to the press Monday at the Radisson Blu Hotel, alleged that the plot to assassinate their presidential candidate was part of a strategy by the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) to undermine the peaceful outcome of the presidential run-off election.
Koroma also said that in the face of heightened intimidation and an unprecedented level of deployment of armed military and police officers on polling day, the last resort of the ruling party was to eliminate their presidential candidate, who took a slender lead going into the crucial run-off.
"It is now apparent that the ruling All Peoples Congress, after being rejected at the polls, is now very determined not only to obstruct the electoral process but most importantly to create chaos. There is now an active plan to assassinate the presidential candidate of the Sierra Leone peoples Party, Brigadier Julius Maada Bio," said Koroma.
He named the alleged plotters as Major-General Sullay Sesay, Brigadier AY Kargbo, Brigadier UP Turay, Colonel RS Conteh, Brigadier Abu Conteh and Colonel Tee. He added that the alleged assassination plot has the full knowledge of General David Taluva, Deputy Chief of Defense Staff and Minister of Defense, Paolo Conteh.
"These named military officers have already been supplied with arms and ammunition, including GPMGs to kill our leader Maada Bio," he said, adding that his party has won the presidential run-off election and that they were now awaiting the National Electoral Commission to announce the final result.
However, a statement signed by Chief of Defence State, Lt. Gen. Brima Sesay denied the claim and said they "strongly condemned and take great exception to the dangerous and misleading allegations that have the tendency to undermine the integrity of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces and also the peace and security of Sierra Leone."
The statement further called on the Inspector of General Police to speedily investigate the allegation while reassuring the public of their "unwavering determination to remain apolitical, professional and respectful to the Constitution of Sierra Leone."
The opposition party had complained about intimidation by the security forces in the lead-up to the election. During the first round of vote on March 7, armed police and military personnel besieged a residential building Mr. Bio had transformed into his Tally Centre, on the flimsy excuse that he was 'hacking' NEC computers.
NEC denied their system could be hacked, while international observers condemned the move, describing it as harassment and intimidation.
Also, just as polls closed Saturday night on 31 March, it was reported that the residence of Mr. Bio came under attack and live gun shots reportedly fired by some unknown gunmen.
In another incident on Monday, April 2, one Abubakarr Brimah, who reports say is a supporter of Retired Brigadier Bio, was allegedly shot by an armed police officer very closed to the residence of the opposition presidential candidate.