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Police boss assures sustenance of peace under APC reign

26 October 2007 at 21:36 | 700 views

A parliamentary Election was conducted in Sierra Leone on August 11 and a run off on September 8, which catapulted Ernest Bai Koroma of the All People’s Congress (which has been in opposition since multiparty politics was re-introduced in 1996) to power. For the first time, the police in Sierra Leone have been observed to play a neutral role in elections, but they are grappling with many challenges in the post elections era. Alpha Jalloh, The Patriotic Vanguard’s Freetown Bureau chief met with Inspector General of Police Brima Acha Kamara(photo) and interviewed him on the police force’s capability to sustain peace in a once beleaguered country that experienced a civil strife that raged from 1991 to 2001. Here is Alpha and the IG:

PV: The elections are over but there have been reports of intermittent violent clashes in different parts of the country, what measures have you put in place to bring them to an end?

IGP: We prepared the strategy for policing the elections. We took into consideration post-election violence. Thankfully, the elections were conducted during the holy month of Ramadan when most Muslims kept the month holy. We did not notice any sign of violence that was anticipated. Immediately the fasting ended, we witnessed specific violent activities in Port Loko between various opponents. Also, we had few instances elsewhere especially in Kono district. We acted promptly and made some arrests and charged them to court, which sent a signal to everyone. Now the situation is quiet.

PV: There have been calls from various quarters for Special Constabularies to be integrated into the Sierra Leone Police Force so as to beef it up with enough manpower and enable it to effectively enforce law and order. Is there any possibility for that?

IGP: I do not consider it an option. I always emphasize quality rather than quantity. They (Special Constabularies) are ill-trained and unprofessional. According to our research, we discovered that they were badly trained and were largely responsible for the battered image of the force. Some time ago, I prepared a paper for the abolition of Special Constabularies and submitted it to the Police Council. It was accepted and endorsed.

PV: what mechanisms have the police put in place to enhance the sustainability of peace in a post-election period?

IGP: We have improved our image and today the public does accept us as partners. We have local police partnership boards all over the country. They have played a pivotal role in solving problems during and after the elections. We have increased our visibility by putting more police on the streets and we continue to work with other security partners in reducing conflict.

PV: It has been observed that the police maintained a neutral role during the elections, was it intuitive or were they schooled as to how they should conduct themselves during the elections?

IGP: In the first place, we had the political will to be neutral since the reign of the then president, Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. Throughout his reign and in all police conferences, our neutrality was hammered home by the then president and other ministers.
In 1998, the government in the Policing Charter, stressed that the police should be apolitical, and we have enjoyed operational independence throughout this period.

PV: What makes you so popular among the rank and file of the police force?

IGP: Because of the type of leadership I offer and also the caring manner towards their (the police) welfare. I always communicate with them and always motivate them. Recently, I made a provincial tour and thanked them for their role in the national elections. I have always freed them from the unreasonable actions of some of their commanders.

PV: What assurances would you give to Sierra Leoneans abroad (through The Patriotic Vanguard) that peace will be sustainable in this post-election period?

IGP: I want to assure them that the peace is sustainable. No deaths were reported during the elections. The security of Sierra Leone now involves all Sierra Leoneans. We have provided security committees at district and regional levels: security is now integrated. I am assuring all Sierra Leoneans that security will be sustained.

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