ECOWAS, MRU Condemn S/Leone Violent Protests -As Govt Imposes “Nationwide Curfew”

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Mano River Union (MRU) have sharply reacted to the violent protests in a number of places in Sierra Leone, including the Capital city, Freedom, where it was reported that at least 3 persons were killed on Wednesday, August 10, 2022 and call for calm and prosecution of the perpetrators just as the government has imposed an indefinite curfew to avert further widespread of the crisis.

The regional body, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) condemned the violence and called in a Twitter post for “all to obey law and order and for the perpetrators of the violence to be identified and brought before the law.”

Commenting also on the protest, the Executive Secretary of the Mano River Union, Mrs. Medina Wesseh in a social media post said the organization is deeply concerned over the protests of monday 8th and Wednesday, 10th August 2022 in Sierra Leone and that it condemned the violent protest of Wednesday  August 10 that led to the loss of human lives and the destruction of properties.

“The Mano River Union Secretariat calls for calm and is ready to join other international partners to encourage national dialogue”, the Madam Wesseh concluded.

In a national broadcast yestertday, Vice President Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh who is acting as President in the absence of President Maada Bio who is on a private vacation confirmed fatalities without giving further details however announced a nationwide curfew from 3 p.m. local time in a bid to stem the violence.

“These unscrupulous individuals have embarked on a violent and an unauthorized protest, which has led to the loss of lives of innocent Sierra Leoneans including security personnel,” Jalloh said, adding that some public buildings including police stations had been attacked and burned down. “The government hereby declares a nationwide curfew,” he said. “The security sector has been authorised to fully enforce this directive.”, he further said.

On Tuesday, the national security coordinator asked the armed forces to be prepared to back up the police from Aug. 9 to 12, warning of a “potentially volatile security situation”, according to an internal letter shared widely online.

The government has also shut down the country’s internet service to prevent the sharing of images of the protests taking place in the northern cities and towns, as well as the capital Freetown believed to be the strongholds of the opposition All People’s Congress(APC).

The protesters on Wednesday were calling for  President Julius Maada Bio, who was elected in 2018 and still has 10 months left in his term to step down immediately, and chanted “Bio must go” as they made their way through the capital, Freetown.

President Bio is accused of rampant corruption, human rights abuses, the killing of unarmed civilians and prisoners, abuse of State of power, poor leadership and the acute economic hardship that people in the country are experiencing

The cost of living in Sierra Leone has risen by more than 40% within the last few months: A bag of rice that used to cost 350 leones now costs more than 500, consumers say. Meanwhile, electricity and fuel prices also have spiked.

The government has criticized the unidentified organizers of the protest, warning that the country already has suffered enough through more than a decade of civil war that ended in 2002.

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