January 25, 1998
For Immediate Release
Today - Sunday, January 25,1998 - is exactly eight months since a combined force of the Sierra Leone Military and Revolutionary United Front (RUF) seized power from the democratically elected government of President Ahmed Tejan Kabba. This combined force, now known as the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) of Sierra Leone, issued decrees that suspended the Constitution; the dissolution of Parliament; and banned all political parties.
During the eight month period, however, there have been several unfounded and relentless accusations levied against the All People's Congress (APC) Party. As Parliamentary Leader and Secretary General of the APC, it is my duty to set the record straight. The APC has never shifted in its opposition to military rule in Sierra Leone.
Immediately after the bloody and destructive coup of May 25th 1997, the All People's Congress Party along with other political parties unequivocally condemned the coup, and called on the military forces and their allies to return power to the democratically elected government of Tejan Kabba.
These political parties, including the APC party, initiated talks with the coup leaders and passed a resolution calling on the junta to step down.
When the ECOMOG forces bombarded the coastal areas of Freetown on the 2nd of June 1997, the APC condemned this action and called on all parties to explore the diplomatic option for resolving the problem. The APC was gratified when ECOWAS opted for the diplomatic option in their summit in Ivory Coast, followed by the Peace Accord in Conakry, Guinea.
It is the position of the APC that the military coup of May 25th was totally unacceptable and is still unacceptable. This has been our position, we continue to stand by it and we call on the military junta to relinquish power peacefully to the democratically elected government of President Ahmed Tejan Kabba.
It is also our position that we oppose military actions by any armed group or groups to resolve the conflict. The inevitable result of maiming and killing of innocent civilians, the destruction of property, and protracted violence is totally unacceptable.
Since the 25th of May 1997, the day our fragile steps in the democratic process were halted by the coup, violence continues to reign in Sierra Leone. Anarchy, armed attacks on innocent civilians, and continued military engagements between the AFRC's "People's Army" and the Kamajors, the Civil Defense Force in support of the ousted government of President Kabba, are now the order of the day in Sierra Leone.
The APC party calls on ECOWAS and the United Nations to continue unabated, the dialogue option. We believe this is the only way to bring lasting and sustainable peace to our country. A resolution through armed engagements between the AFRC and ECOMOG, or with the Kamajors or any other armed group will not bring lasting peace to Sierra Leone. This option will only result in the proliferation of arms, continued rampage by armed groups and a situation of protracted violence. This in turn will not only render Sierra Leone ungovernable, but will create social and political instability in the entire sub-region.
For the record, the APC will never initiate nor support military rule in Sierra Leone, as charged by certain quarters in the Sierra Leone community abroad and at home. The APC's recommendation for a peaceful resolution to the current crises derives from previous experiences. The APC government was a victim of several coup attempts, including the successful NPRC coup, in 1992. For varied reasons, this coup was accepted by Sierra Leone's civil society and the international community. However, in the wake of its rule, the NPRC brutally murdered 29 of our members and supporters on false coup charges. An act widely condemned by Amnesty International and the international community. This brutal act was carried out by the present Chief Secretary of State of the AFRC, SAJ Musa, under the instructions of the NPRC leadership of Valentine Strasser and Maada Bio. This is all part of the APC history and we can do nothing about the past, but work diligently to rebuild our country for future generations. Because we believe that violence propagates violence, the APC did not take up arms, but instead worked within the evolving democratic framework and presented a revived APC platform to the people of Sierra Leone during the recent elections.
For the sake of rebuilding Sierra Leone, we call on all parties to this current conflict to work together for a permanent and peaceful resolution.
We appeal to the military junta to realize that Sierra Leone is not an island and therefore cannot afford to be isolated by the whole world for much longer. The damage to our people and for generations to come, could be irreparable.
We appeal to President Kabba, and particularly all those who oppose the coup, to exercise restrain in engaging the military option, but continue to support the current dialogue for resolving the crises.
We urge the international community to continue its efforts for a permanent and peaceful resolution to this conflict.
Eddie M. Turay
APC Secretary General and Parliamentary Leader, and Former Presidential Candidate
Currently displaced in the United States