''All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing'' - Edmund Burke


S I E R R A  H E R A L D

Vol 9 No 10

The tendency sometimes to protect perpetrators for the sake of peace...doesn't help society. Impunity should not be allowed to stand. - Kofi Annan on Waki report

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Saturday March 9, 2013 - Kenya has a new President. Uhuru Kenyatta, the son of the country's first President Jomo Kenyatta has been declared the winner of polls that had attracted quite a lot of controversy over the handling and counting of the votes.Raila Odinga has challenged the results in the Supreme Court and has said that today's announcement is a test of democracy in Kenya.Uhuru Kenyatta is declared the winner of controversial Kenya polls. He faces trial at the ICC.

Uhuru Kenyatta is the new President of Kenya, the fourth after Jomo Kenyatta, Daniel arap Moi and Mwai Kibaki . This has been confirmed by one of the country's top dailies the Daily Nation of Kenya

Uhuru Kenyatta has been declared the duly elected President of Kenya by the electoral commission. Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission chairman Isaack Hassan made the announcement at the Bomas of Kenya Saturday. He said Mr Kenyatta had fulfilled the constitutional requirements after garnering 6,173,433 votes, representing 50.07 per cent of the total votes cast and getting 25 per cent in 32 of Kenya's 47 Counties. Mr Hassan presented the certificate of presidential results to Mr Kenyatta to wild cheers from his supporters. He was accompanied by vice president elect William Ruto and his wife Margaret Kenyatta, who is the First Lady designate.

Figures show that the winner barely managed to scrape through to avoid a run-off amidst claims by the other front runner Raila Odinga that the entire process had been riddled with inconsistencies and the manipulation of figures. He has already given notice that he would be appealing the decision of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to declare Uhuru Kenyatta the winner.

Even before the formal announcement today Raila Odinga had given notice that he would be challenging any decision that made his main rival Uhuru Kenya the winner - according to another report in the Daily Nation.

" Mr Odinga pointed to problems in tallying the votes and urged his supporters to remain calm as he seeks relief from the Supreme Court. "Raila has no intention of conceding and will be challenging this in court," Mr Odinga's advisor Salim Lone told the Nation. "The level of the failures in the system makes it very difficult to believe it was a credible result, and if Uhuru is declared president, Raila will go to court." Mr Lone said that Mr Odinga would “very strongly ask people to stay calm” and wait for the courts to address his complaints."

The BBC reports suggests that the victory of Uhuru Kenya could well be of a Pyrrhic nature given the fact that he faces trial at the International Criminal Court, ICC

"...the newly confirmed president could face difficult relations with Western countries. In July, he is due to go on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague for alleged crimes against humanity. Mr Kenyatta's running mate, William Ruto, also faces similar charges. Both men deny the accusations. In his victory speech, Mr Kenyatta restated his promise to co-operate "with all nations and international institutions". The ICC has agreed to postpone Mr Ruto's trial by a month until May after his lawyers complained of not having enough time to prepare his defence. Countries including the US and UK have hinted that Mr Kenyatta's election as president would have consequences for their relations with Kenya. The comments have been dismissed in Nairobi as foreign interference."

There are reports already of violence in areas of Kenya with a Raila Odinga heavy support base with supporters protesting against the decision of the electoral body even though Raila Odinga is on record as telling his supporters to remain calm and wait for the Supreme Court's decision to his challenge.

Monday March 4, 2013 - Polling Day in Kenya with hopes and prayers for a peaceful process during the vote and more so after the results are announced.The government says security is in place for Monday's polls

Kenyans go to the polls today to decide who takes over the reins of government after the departure of veteran politician President Mwai Kibaki. Today's vote is the first after the 2007 polls which brought in its wake an unprecedented level of violence that saw one peace communities engaged in deadly and vicious internecine strife. It took the will of the international community and clearly worried and concerned Kenyans to put together a coalition arrangement that saw the chief protagonists forming a government of national unity. More than a thousand Kenyans died in the 2007 post-election violence and millions left traumatised and still trying to cope with the madness that seized the country some five years ago. The International Criminal Court, the ICC has got four key suspects in its sight to face trial among them two key men now contesting in the polls.

Today's polls would be closely monitored by the international community and true friends of Kenya within and outside the borders of the country who would want to see a deep sense of maturity displayed on all sides during today's votes and crucially in the aftermath of the announcement of the results. One of Kenya's leading newspapers, the Daily Nation reported on Sunday the assurances given by the country's elections body, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, the IEBC, that all was set for a successful polling exercise.

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Issack Hassan on Sunday said, with the help of the Police department, they had deployed security personnel to the over 33,400 polling stations across the country. “The commission has put in place all the necessary measures to ensure a free, fair and credible elections,” he said in a news briefing at the National Elections Centre at Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi. IEBC confirmed that election materials had arrived in all the 290 constituencies across the country. “I can confirm that all election materials have arrived at all polling centres in every corner of the country. Everything is going according to plan and we are confident that the election will go on smoothly,” IEBC Chief Executive James Oswago told Nation.
Mr Oswago said all polling stations would open at 6am and close at 5pm but the closing time could be extended to ensure that all voters in the queue cast their ballot. “We will extend voting in areas where voting starts late or in case there are people in the queues at the time of the deadline. This is primarily to enable everybody to vote but we hope that this will not go on for long,” said Oswago.

Al Jazeera's James Brownsell, reporting from Nairobi, said that Kenyans across the country were hoping for a peaceful poll. "The authorities here are much better prepared for the elections than they were in 2007," Brownsell said. "Some 99,000 police officers have been deployed to deal with any potential unrest. But everyone I've spoken to here has said they want peace, only peace, and that they would accept the outcome of the election, whomever wins."

He added: "This, however, is the first election under the new constitution, in which many responsibilities are devolved to regional governors. These new authorities are set to inherit wide-ranging powers, so if any violence is witnessed this coming week, analysts say it will likely be confined to 'hotspots' around contentious or closely run regional races. "On the whole, voters of all political stripes have told me that they are determined not to let the violence of 2007-08 ever be repeated."

Sunday March 3, 2013 - After days of hesitation, dithering and unclear messages, disgraced UK Catholic cardinal finally admits - "there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal."Disgraced Catholic priest Cardinal Keith O'Brien

He would have been in the Vatican as one of the Cardinals that would have been involved in the process of electing a replacement for the departed Pope Benedict XVI. However Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the former leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland gave the public hints that things were not what they seemed when he stated that he would not be in Rome as Britain's only voice in the election of a new Pope citing what he initially called "unspecified allegations of sexual impropriety" against him. He then stated that it would be good for him to stay away as he did not want to be "a media distraction" when the Cardinals meet in the Vatican. Well today Sunday, in an about-turn move Cardinal O'Brien who had threatened legal action against his accusers finally admitted what he had been trying to hide as revealed in a statement quoted by the BBC.

"In recent days, certain allegations which have been made against me have become public. Initially, their anonymous and non-specific nature led me to contest them. "However, I wish to take this opportunity to admit that there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal. "To those I have offended, I apologise and ask forgiveness. To the Catholic Church and people of Scotland, I also apologise. "I will now spend the rest of my life in retirement. I will play no further part in the public life of the Catholic Church in Scotland."

The BBC's Religious Affairs correspondent Robert Pigott adds

"His admission that his "conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal" could be taken to confirm that his improper behaviour continued beyond the time of the initial allegations in the 1980s into the recent past. Cardinal O'Brien is not in a position to say what sort of inquiry will now take place. The cardinal has not been accused of anything illegal, so it will be an internal investigation and the results might not be made public. It will be carried out by the Vatican under a new Pope, not by the Church in Scotland, and any punishment would depend on the circumstances of his improper sexual conduct. Whatever else it tells us, the cardinal's statement does sit uneasily with his years of outspoken denunciation of homosexual relationships."

The UK Daily Mirror adds -

"It has been claimed that during the cardinal’s time at St Andrew’s, late-night drinking parties were common and that on religious holidays, beer and wine were served from lunchtime in parties known as “ragers”. A document outlining the claims of inappropriate conduct by the three priests and the former priest was sent to Archbishop Antonio Mennini, the papal nuncio, or Vatican ambassador, to Britain, earlier this month. One priest said inappropriate contact took place when O’Brien visited a parish where he was living. Another accused him of “unwanted behaviour” after late-night drinks. The fourth said O’Brien used evening prayer as an opportunity for inappropriate contact."
Saturday March 2, 2013 - It's more than a week now since the EU Elections Team that was in Sierra Leone to observe the November 17, 2012 polls presented its final report and we still await a reaction from the government and Lady Christiana Thorpe, the electoral boss on loopholes in the process and the use of state resources by the Ernest Bai Koroma government.

The European Union sent a team to Sierra Leone to observe what went on in the electoral process before, during and after the November 17 polls which, according to the Head of the National Electoral Commission one Dr Christiana Thorpe saw the incumbent Ernest Bai Koroma getting enough votes in the Presidential votes to do away with the need for any run-off between the two leading candidates as he was ruled to have garnered 58.7 percent of all valid votes cast.

The EU team headed by a UK member of the European Parliament was full of praise for the way Sierra Leoneans conducted themselves expressing the hope that the observations in the final report would be a pointer as to how the creation of a level playing field in all aspects of the electoral process would solidify democracy in Sierra Leone - this despite the large volume of currencies, both local and international that was seen to have been moving from government and party coffers to key state holders in a desperate move to get votes using any and all means necessary.

IEU Elections Observer team head Howittn a statement before presenting the EU's Final Report the Chief Observer Richard Howitt noted, among other things, that there was a need to improve on some aspects of the process while praising areas he and his team considered worthy of emulation. The Executive Summary of the Final Report has a number of key points that needs addressing urgently to give democracy a firm base in post-conflict Sierra Leone.

In the final report there's one particular aspect that should be of concern to the man who declared a one-day national holiday to allow party members and government functionaries to witness what he called his second inauguration and knowing President Koroma and his gang's disrespect for financial reporting would have ripped the country's coffers wide open to spend, spend and spend with no proper documentation on how much of the people's resources were used for what, by all account was an APC victory celebration given another name.

"An unequal playing field was evident throughout the campaign period. Although the election campaign was dominated by the ruling APC and the main opposition SLPP, APC clearly benefited from the advantages of incumbency by making use of state resources, enjoying considerably more media coverage and clearly having more financial resources for campaigning, including considerable sums spent on paid media airtime as compared to SLPP and other political parties. The volume of resources invested in the campaign by the ruling party clearly exceeded that of the SLPP. The other political parties, including PMDC, were much less visible as they lacked financial resources to conduct large-scale public campaign events. As no state financial support is made available to political parties, their ability to compete in elections was impaired."

We must also add the illegal participation of a number of business concerns including those in the mining sector in funding the Ernest Bai Koroma campaign as well as providing various logistics avenues that allowed undue advantage of the incumbent over others in the race. Air transport including the provision of helicopters was also noted.

Kindly note this observation which could have led to another Kenya-style hurried swearing-in ceremony, the aftermath of which led to the carnage that the East African country is doing its best to avoid as they head for the polls on Monday March 4, 2013. We had, in earlier articles advised Dr Christiana Thorpe to be very wary and cautious and not become Sierra Leone's version of one Samuel Kivuitu.


Friday March 1, 2013 - All policemen involved in the death of taxi driver are suspended as investigations intensify into the brutal killing by armed police of Mozambican taxi driver. In Sierra Leone killer OSD police and others get protected by President Dr Dr Dr etc Ernest Bai Koroma.The South African Police Chief Riah Phigeya announcing the suspension of all policemen involved in arrest of taxi driver

South Africa's Police Chief Riah Phigeya has assured South Africans that she was looking into what she called the alleged brutal treatment meted out to a 27 year old Mozambican taxi driver  Mido Macia and his subsequent death in police custody. A report on Al Jazeera quoting the Police Chief states - "We would like to assure the country and the world, that what was in the video is not how [police] in South Africa goes about its work." The officers involved were also ordered disarmed, and the station commander removed while the investigation is ongoing, she said. The incident, videotaped on Tuesday and broadcast nationwide on Thursday, was condemned by President Jacob Zuma and opposition politicians. "The visuals of the incident are horrific, disturbing and unacceptable. No human being should be treated in that manner," Zuma said in a statement that described the incident as "the tragic death of a man in the hands of the police".

Police told media they detained Macia after he parked illegally, creating a traffic jam and then resisted arrest. The video clearly shows the man scuffling with police, who subdue him. He was then bound to the back of the pick-up by his arms before the vehicle drove off in front of scores of witnesses in the east Johannesburg area of Daveyton. The latest fatal incident is drawing a storm of protest against the South African police force accused of routine brutality. Lucy Holborn, of the South African Institute of Race Relations, told Al Jazeera that South Africa's police force has a long history of using "brutality and violence" going back to the Apartheid era. "I think that has permeated into the police force in the democratic era," Holborn said.

The poor taxi driver's crime? He dared park on the wrong side of the road!!!!

In Sierra Leone such an incident would have been covered up in one form of legal smokescreen or the other with President Koroma not even acknowledging that such an incident occurred as witnessed in the aftermath of the violence perpetrated on the people of Bumbuna because they dared protest against working and other conditions imposed by a mining organisation in which Ernest Bai Koroma is reported to have very deep interests. Nor did Sierra Leoneans see him act on the recommendations of the Shears-Moses report submitted to him at his State House office. The report, among other issues, called for the sacking of a lawless and armed thug, Idrissa Kamara aka Leatherboot closely associated with the President. When the Sierra Leone Human Rights Commission decided to investigate the Bumbuna violence in which gender-based violence on a massive scale was meted out, President Koroma, in a desperate attempt to snuff out such a move announced that his government would be holding what it termed an inquest into the Bumbuna and other killings of Sierra Leoneans perceived to be political opponents of the government and the ruling APC party.

Friday February 22, 2013 - South African athlete, the man known as the blade runner Oscar Pistorius has been granted bail after dramatic court scenes lasting some four days as the court heard submissions from both the defence lawyers and prosecution on whether or not he should be granted his request. And this was just a bail hearing, not the trial proper which could well start on June 4 when Oscar appears in court again. Oscar with the woman he is accused of murdering with bullets from a hand gun. He has been granted bail and will appear in court on June 4. 2013.Magistrate Nair - he granted bail after four days of hearing

The Guardian newspaper has reported that Magistrate Desmond Nair in a 2-hour summing up gave these reasons for granting bail.

• He did not think Pistorius was a flight risk. • He did not think the prosecution had shown that Pistorius had a propensity for violence. • He did not think the prosecution had shown there would be public outrage if he were released on bail. • He did not think the prosecution's case was so strong that Pistorius's only reasonable reaction were he released would be to flee.

The BBC's Andrew Harding who has been following the case also stated - "The Paralympic champion denies murder, saying he shot Reeva Steenkamp thinking she was an intruder at his home. The next hearing in the case has been set for 4 June. Bail was set at 1m rand (£74,000; $113,000). He was ordered to hand over his passport, avoid his home in Pretoria and report to a police station between 07:00 and 13:00 every Monday and Friday. He criticised the testimony of Detective Hilton Botha for not following up important leads and changing his evidence."

South African campaigners for the rights of women and against violence against women, including the ruling ANC party's Women have been protesting the bail arguments insisting that those who perpetrate violence against women, be they high or low as society deems fit, should all face the full penalty of the law.

The granting of bail to the double amputee who's been accused of murdering his girl friend model Reeva Steenkamp should be a source of embarrassment to the authorities in Sierra Leone who just love denying their fellow human beings their liberty - throwing them in terrible prison conditions or police cells on one flimsy excuse or the other. This is an evil practice honed to near-perfection by the ruling APC now and in the days of Stevens and Momoh who used incarceration of perceived opponents as a form of punishment against people they don't like. Kindly ask relations of those rounded up in party and police dragnets as recently as in the aftermath of clashes between supporters of the ruling APC and the main opposition SLPP. The APC activists including the police are let off the hook while the SLPP supporters, be they victims or not are denied bail and thrown into prison. In the matter of treason cases, once arrested those the government and party want to eliminate never see their homes or walk the streets again - to end up in unmarked graves after being hanged at the central prison at Pademba Road in Freetown.

Monday February 11, 2013 - Pope Benedict the XVIth throws a bombshell - His Holiness has resigned his post as the spiritual leader of the worldwide Catholic community. An action not seen nor witnessed for more than six hundred years. Was he pushed or is his health the real issue that made him voluntarily resign from his sacred duty after almost eight years in the post?Pope Benedict the 16th resigns in a historic move citing health reasons

It came as quite a surprise this morning - that the spiritual leader of the Catholic Church Pope Benedict the 16th will be stepping down as spiritual leader of the Catholic Church at the end of the month - February 28. He will be the first head of the Roman Catholic Church to resign in almost 600 years. In a letter from the Pope on the Holy See website of the Vatican, Pop Benedict stated

"After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is. Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer."

The Statement was released on 10th February 2013.

The main questions now, we dare ask is - could it not have been possible for the Pope to continue in office while delegating responsibility to others in the Vatican? Why has the Holy Father embarked on what is definitely a historic and very surprising action? Is there more going on behind the scenes in the Vatican? Only the fullness of time will tell but today's public announcement came as quite a shock.

Monday October 1, 2012 - The report on the Bumbuna violence in which Hawa Conteh was murdered and several other civilians were shot and wounded by the armed wing of the ruling party has been published...and up till now no reaction from a government that wanted to stall proceedings initiated by the Sierra Leone Human Rights Commission. The blood soaked body of the murdered Musu Conteh. She was killed while protesting for her rights in Sierra LeonePresident Koroma with his friend Timis. There shall be a timing of reckoning...one fine day.

Update: We would urge the international community, more so the UN Security Council to take a good hard look at this report by the Sierra Leone Human Rights Commission into the Bumbuna violence with questions on what weapons were used against protesting civilians. The government had assured Sierra Leoneans as well as the international community including the UN Security Council that those weapons had been put beyond reach of the armed wing of the ruling party, the OSD police. The government stated that the multi-million dollar weapons had been handed over to the military for use in operations outside Sierra Leone. This excerpt from the report is not reassuring, nails the lies, more lies and we dare say damned lies of the smoke and mirrors President. It is frightening to state the least.

"149. Though the police had denied using live ammunition and had indicated that community people might have been shooting using shot guns from the bushes surrounding Bumbuna town, the Panel, with the help of a ballistics expert from the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) is able to confirm that the bullet shells tendered in evidence by witnesses were from modern police guns. In a letter to the Inquiry Secretariat dated the 24th of August 2012, the RSLAF ballistics expert identified the sources of the bullet shells as Self-Loaded Rifles (SLR), General Purpose Machine Gun, G3 Rifles, 741 Heavy Assault Rifle (HBAS), M4 Carbine, M16A2 rifle and M16A1 rifle. These clearly are not shot guns. They are military or police guns."

The report of investigations into the Bumbuna violence in which Musu Conteh, a Sierra Leonean protesting about conditions at a mine with close links to the President is now out and details a number of human rights violations perpetrated on not only workers protesting against working conditions at the mine, but on the entire Bumbuna community for their dare in allowing a protest against a commercial enterprise in which the President himself has more than a passing interest. It is an investigation that highlights to what extent the OSD police is prepared to go in crushing what it sees as any protest against the party which founded them - the APC now led by Dr Dr Dr Ernest Bai Koroma (FBC Division 3 - Let my people go...allowed to pass).

We would encourage all stakeholders within and outside Sierra Leone who want to see peace consolidated in Sierra Leone after those troubling years so they can appreciate the fears of many who believe that in the desperate attempt to get a second term, Ernest Bai Koroma and his gang would go to any lengths using but not limited to murder, arson, abduction, intimidation, extreme violence and the security forces as well as the judiciary to get their wish. It would seem the first five years of corruption, massive corruption and the ravaging of the country's finances and resources has not got them satisfied but yearn to take the country back to the same climate of intimidation and intolerance that led to our troubles and which the country is still trying to devise ways and means of avoiding a repeat.

Details published in the report clearly showed that weapons used against civilians in Bumbuna could only have come from the multi-million dollar weapons purchase as shells recovered after the police rampage showed as well as the excesses of one OSD personnel who threatened women using unprintable language as well as other acts deemed most unwholesome for which President Ernest Bai Koroma must be held accountable.

We would urge everyone to read this report and absorb the enormity of the crimes committed against the people of Bumbuna including the murder of Musu Conteh and how women of Bumbuna were subjected to the worst forms of degradation that could only come from agents of the government who are encouraged by Ernest Bai Koroma and his gang to continue acts that are incompatible with good governance, tolerance, the tenets of law and order and all the good things that make for development.


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