Police in Sierra Leone have arrested several people, including high-ranking soldiers, who are suspected of planning violent attacks on citizens and state institutions. The arrests were made following intelligence reports that the suspects were working to undermine the peace and stability of the country.
According to a police statement, the suspects intended to use peaceful protests scheduled for next week “as a guise to unleash violent attacks against state institutions and peaceful citizens.” The statement did not reveal the identities or the number of the suspects, but said they were assisting the police with the investigations.
The planned protests are part of a series of demonstrations that have rocked Sierra Leone since the general elections on June 24, 2023. President Julius Maada Bio was re-elected for a second term, according to official results, which the opposition disputes. International observers noted “statistical inconsistencies” and condemned a “lack of transparency” in the ballot count.
The opposition has refused to participate in local or national government, with all but one MP boycotting parliament. The opposition accuses the government of human rights violations, corruption, and economic mismanagement.
On August 10, 2022, economic and political protests in the capital Freetown and other cities spiralled into deadly clashes. Twenty-seven civilians and six police officers died that day and in the several days that followed, according to official figures. Amnesty International said it had gathered testimonies alleging excessive use of force, and condemned internet restrictions.
The police statement said the arrests were made to prevent President Julius Maada Bio’s democratically elected government from being toppled, as it happened last week in the Republic of Niger when President Mohamed Bazoum was removed by the junta.
Bazoum was ousted in a military coup and General Abdourahmane Tchiani, also known as Omar Tchiani, took over the affairs of the country. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) led by Bola Tinubu has given the coup leaders to reinstate Bazoum in one week.
While foreign nations like the United States and France have thrown their weight behind the ECOWAS, Mali and Burkina Faso pledged their support to the military regime in Niger. #Sierra Leone
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