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Political & Gang violence… “An expression of criminality”-Herbert McLeod

The Chief Co-coordinator of the Sierra Leone Conference on Transformation and Development, Herbert McLeod, has harshly condemned the spate of political and gang violence in the country and has expressed concern about the effectiveness of the police in enforcing the law noting, “what we see being perpetrated now in the guise of political (and gang) violence is a sad commentary on the state of the institution that should support and protect the citizens.”
Forcefully putting his points across during an interview with Awoko, Mr. McLeod emphasized that Sierra Leone does not have a disproportionate distribution of evil people. He said; “I think it is the same in all countries. But in those countries that one does not find what we are experiencing here, one has the rules and regulations of society that control and effectively limit the extent to which these excesses are being perpetrated.”
Addressing the issue of reconciliation which many have called for to be included in the conference agenda, Mr. McLeod noted that the peace process was very successful because there was widespread commitment by the population and determination to have peace.
He however pointed out that the issue of leadership and reconciliation is interesting, since it perhaps provides the opportunity for Sierra Leoneans to understand much better, what he considers as one of the major failings in the development of the country.
“We tend to think that we understand our problems-but what we really do is look at the symptoms of these problems, and when we proffer solutions; these are solutions to the symptoms rather than the root causes, which if well constructed would enable us to deal with these problems,” he noted.
The Sierra Leone Conference Co-coordinator pointed out that the peace process was also successful because of the leadership at the time, which he noted, “was unwavering in its desire to have peace”, adding that the success of the peace process was also largely due to the significant external supports that took the country through those difficult years.”
Linking the recent spate of street and political violence which has characterized the country with the on-going reconciliation process, Mr. McLeod commended the action of Women’s Forum of Sierra Leone (WFSL) and Women’s Solidarity Support Group (WSSG) in their condemnation of last week’s bye-election related violence and strong expression of their displeasure over the state of affairs in the country, thereby blaming the political and security class for their poor handling of affairs, when it comes to violence, law and order and the safety of the country.
“I think the women were right. The reconciliation efforts are failing because the solution to political violence, which in my view is an expression of criminality, is to ensure that the security apparatus in the country function.”
According to McLeod, his reference to security apparatus is not limited to the police, but to the judiciary, the prison and all those agencies directly relating to security of the country.
“I am saying that if these were working effectively, when someone threatens a candidate, that person should be locked-up, and when someone goes beyond that, to attack a candidate, or an individual, that person should be sent to jail,” McLeod maintained.
The Sierra Leone Conference Coordinator went on to state that politicians should be magnanimous enough to condemn violence perpetrated by their supporters.
“The fact that we are still having it, confirms that there is no solution to the menace,” McLeod further noted.
By Winston Ojukutu-Macaulay

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