Reports say at least three persons have been confirmed dead in the Sierra Leonean capital Freetown as the Government imposes a straight curfew following violent protest.
Angry protesters shut down the country demanding the resignation of President Julius Maada Bio who is currently on a month-long vacation with his family in London on Wednesday, August 10.
The Vice President of Sierra Leone, Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh declared a nationwide curfew amid violent protests across communities in Freetown and other parts of the country.
Local Sierra Leonean daily, the Telegraph reported that the government 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 – opposition APC strongholds.
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 African Press reported days earlier that the country’s finance ministry misappropriation of almost One Hundred Thousand Pounds to fund the president’s holiday abroad – with the country in economic turmoil.
The said funds were transferred and processed strictly for the alleged purpose of the president’s visit and are not related to the official budgetary transfers and normal allocations to diplomatic missions in respect of their official activities abroad, the African Press reported.
Reports said on Monday, the streets of Freetown, shops and markets were deserted as people heeded calls from organizers of the protests to stay at home. Schools and offices were also shut.
Wednesday’s protest brought bloodshed, with the police accused of shooting two people dead. A security officer could also be seen in a video to be lying dead in a pool of blood.
There are calls for the President to return to Sierra Leone and deliver a public broadcast to calm the political tension.
But critics say that President Bio may well use the violent protests as an opportunity to declare a state of emergency to extend his stay in office, with presidential and general elections less than a year away, the Telegraph reported.
There were also fears that section of the military could stage a coup as the government appears to have lost control.
Reports say the protests began during the early morning hours of Wednesday across different communities in the east end of Freetown and other major towns across the northern province.
The violence erupted days after a group of concerned citizens planned the protest seeking to express their views over the continuous hardship in the country. Over the past couple of months, the costs of basic commodities, fuel, and other needs have skyrocketed rapidly in Sierra Leone and there seems to be no change.
There have been condemnations pouring in following the violent clashes. The Commission of the sub-regional grouping ECOWAS in condemning the violence has called on all to obey law and order and that perpetrators of the violence be identified and brought to justice according to law.
The United Nations Country Representative, European Union in Sierra Leone, and the U.S Embassy have condemned the act of violence and called for a swift intervention over this incident.
US Embassy Freetown (@USEmbFreetown) August 10, 2022
Receiving disturbing reports of violent acts in the context of demonstrations in some parts of Freetown. 🇪🇺EU Delegation encouraging all sides to refrain from violence and to stay calm. Sierra Leone 🇸🇱 is known as a peaceful country.
EU in Sierra Leone (@EUinSierraLeone) August 10, 2022
The United Nations in Sierra Leone expresses serious concerns over the violent incidents that occurred today in Freetown, including reports of casualties. The UN calls for calm & dialogue and stands ready to facilitate such dialogue.