Friday, July 06, 2007

Sierra Leone army assures citizens of political neutrality

APA-Freetown (Sierra Leone) Sierra Leone’s army deputy of defence staff, Brigadier Alfred Nelson-Williams, on Thursday assured the citizens of the country of the army’s neutrality in political issues and pledged the institution’s readiness to safeguard peace and ensure security throughout the upcoming general and presidential elections.

Brigadier Nelson-Williams made the statement at the military headquarters in Freetown to allay rumours and apprehension among the civilian population that stems from fresh memories of military takeovers shortly after elections.

In May 1997, a military junta overthrew the then ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) government barely a year after it won a democratic election and held sway for nine months before it was flushed out by a Nigerian-led regional intervention force, ECOMOG.

Also in 1967, the army seized power after a disputed general and presidential election and many now fear history might well be on the way of repeating itself.

“The Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces personnel would not meddle in the conduct of the general and presidential elections in August besides providing security,” Brig. Nelson-Williams reassured.

He then explained that the army has formulated and adopted a code of conduct for personnel who will be on duty during elections billed for 11 August 2007.

The system of separate voting for military personnel would have to be abolished so that the forces can not be seen as owing allegiance to a political party, he insisted.

In the last presidential elections, the army and para-military forces massively voted for a military-turned-civilian candidate that came close to clinching the presidency.

Sierra Leone army assures citizens of political neutrality | Afrique en ligne