Salone News

Margai Charged to Court

19 November 2005 at 15:03 | 846 views

By Zubairu Wai

Thousands of supporters of Charles Margai, the leader of the yet to be registered PMDC political party in Sierra Leone on Saturday clashed with riot police in the Southern Sierra Leone city of Bo, reports have confirmed.

According to eye witness reports, riot police opened teargas and shot live ammunition into the air to disperse crowds that had gathered to protest the arrest of Charles Margai. Trouble started on Friday 18th November, when Margai and Solomon Berewa, the Vice President of Sierra Leone and the leader of the ruling Sierra Leone’s People’s Party (SLPP), attended the annual Speech Day and Prize-Giving Ceremony of Christ the King College, (CKC), the alma mater of both men, at the school’s compound.

According reports, a stand off developed between Margai’s PMDC supporters, who had come to CKC to see him, and the entourage of the Vice president. Solomon Berewa apparently took it as an insult and blamed Margai for the standoff. Rumours then quickly spread throughout the city, Friday evening that Margai was going to be arrested on the orders of the Vice president.

Things got to a head on Saturday, 19th November when the police attempted to arrest Margai for unlawful assemblage, a situation which further infuriated his supporters who had gathered to prevent such an arrest. To calm the situation, Margai voluntarily gave himself up to the police, but he questioned the rationale for his arrest and sought an explanation from the head of police for such an action. According to a Margai supporter, the police commissioner apparently told Margai that “the orders were from above.” This information however cannot be ascertained.

Meanwhile, news of Margai’s arrest had spread throughout the city, and crowds of his supporters started gathering to storm the police station and secure his release, hence the clash between riot police and his supporters. A number of people were injured and arrests were made, including some teachers of CKC. A Margai supporter in Bo told the Vanguard that they wouldn’t just stand by and let their leader be humiliated. “What should they arrest him for, given that he did not commit any crime.”
Margai has since been released and he addressed his supporters on Kiss 104 FM in BO. The city is reported calm. Margai has since left Bo for Freetown.

Meanwhile Mr. Margai and some of his supporters have been charged to court for what the authorities described as ’disorderly behaviour’. They will make their first appearance in court in Bo on Tuesday. Stay to tuned to the Vanguard.

Photo: Margai, in the eye of the storm