COPPP reaffirms boycott of mid-term census
The Consortium of Progressive Political Parties (COPPP) in a press conference held at the Unity Party (UP) office, on Pademba road, on Friday 10th December 2021 re-affirmed its position to boycott the widely controversial mid-term census, which kicked off on the same day.
The opposition umbrella group frowned at the decision of government to proceed with the census despite numerous challenges.
The Chairperson of the Consortium, Femi Claudius Cole, underscored that members of COPPP were all opposition politicians, who have a very vital role to play in governance.
“Our role is not to be the cheerleaders of the sitting government. Our role is to be the filter, so we can call them to attention where things are beginning to either go wrong or are wrong already. That is the role of a vibrant opposition,” she said.
She further stated that if government was up to its task, the opposition would be little or nothing to contend with, noting that their job was a commitment made to the people when they also vied for the position of leadership. “Our commitment to the people of Sierra Leone is that we may not have won, but we are going to be watching out for them, and be the custodian of our democracy to make sure that things don’t go so badly wrong,” she stated.
Madam Claudius Cole revealed that as a progressive collection of political parties they have been monitoring things as they go along, adding that the reason they came together was the decentralization policy which was a very harmful policy at that time.
“We fought it, and I can say today we succeeded,” she said.
She furthered that the Cybercrime Bill could have endangered Sierra Leoneans, but they as Consortium challenged it and things were changed in the bill, noting that at the time when they were crying about the Cybercrime Bill, they were also talking about the census. “There are people out there who think that we started raising alarm over the census only yesterday. No! That is not true. We were raising alarm over the census invariably, calling them to attention that you are having a plan, but you are not dialoguing, collaborating or consulting”, she said, adding that consultation doesn’t mean seeking permission but rather engaging and dialoguing with other people, and that the government had always been dodging it.
“This time around we are bold, brave and fearless. Those things that they have in their arsenal to threaten us will no longer work,” she reiterated, adding that they were thinking about a new Sierra Leone were people would be their brother’s keeper, noting that, “this time around if the government is not used to this format of opposition, they have to get to reprogram as quickly as possible because those days of intimidation are behind us”.
She stated that when the government does the right thing, they would celebrate them.
She pointed out that the issues that COPPP raised were not far away from what the World Bank raised. “Are we prepared for this? No! The government should be realistic when they are dealing with the lives of over 7 million people. Let them don’t make fake promises to us; let them don’t tell lies,” she admonished.
She disclosed that when they had the three days conference, they spoke about boundary delimitation, and they agreed for 2024.
“We thought we were okay with that because everybody voted. Then they came out with a report stating otherwise, citing externalities, which means, after the census by virtue of what numbers you created or what numbers you arrived at you can now push the boundaries delimitation forward.”
She stated that she was in Parliament when they attempted to make the papers, and that she got a fair share of the pepper spray which they used to assault them on that day.
The Chairperson said that Statistics Sierra Leone called them to a meeting but she only got the information when she was listening to Radio Democracy.
She furthered that there had been many instances when they had asked the government to engage them in dialogue but the government failed to do so, noting that they left them with no option, but to react.
She revealed that they had raised many questions with regard the census but the government has shot them down in every effort they had made.
She concluded by vehemently reaffirming their position. “We will defend the position that we have taken to protect the democracy of Sierra Leone,” she reassured.
Reading the press statement, the National Secretary General of the main opposition APC, Ambassador Foday Yansanneh, said they would like to inform the public that Government’s insistence on continuing with the census against all odds may end up being one of the most wasteful enterprises in recent times. He continued that their position remained unchanged, adding they were not alone in the fight, citing a few international partners.
By Alpha Paul Kamara
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