Sierra Leonean security forces are on high alert after the discovery of an alleged plot to overthrow President Maada Bio, according to reliable sources in Freetown, the capital of the West African state. Liberian Journalist Lyndon Ponnie, monitoring the situation in Freetown reports.
Reports obtained from Freetown say the Bio administration is treating the situation with utmost seriousness, authorizing enhanced security measures around the President.
In the wake of contentious elections, tensions have been running high in Sierra Leone. The alleged plot has further exacerbated concerns about the stability of the country’s democratic institutions.
Prompt action by the authorities led to the arrest of several army officers suspected of involvement in the conspiracy, one top security source in Freetown said.
The source said the government of Sierra Leone is committed to upholding the rule of law and ensuring the safety and security of its citizens adding that President Bio’s administration is working diligently to address the situation and maintain stability in the country.
Further investigations are underway to uncover the full extent of the alleged plot and bring all those involved to justice, the source said.
According to a statement published by the police yesterday in Freetown, senior military officers were among several people arrested and detained by the police, suspected of allegedly plotting to use a planned public protest next week “to launch violent attacks on state institutions and citizens”.
Stopping short of referring to the alleged attacks as a coup against the government, the police said that: “Preliminary investigations have revealed that these individuals planned to use purported peaceful protests between 7th and 10th August 2023, as a guise to unleash violent attacks against state institutions and peaceful citizens.”
President Bio did not attend last week’s ECOWAS leaders meeting in Abuja, as security around the president and State House remains tense.
Speaking at a press conference held at police headquarters yesterday, the police did not disclose the names of those arrested and the number of officers involved.
But these arrests do not come as a surprise to many political analysts who have been writing about fractured relationships between the State House and senior military officers in Sierra Leone, who are deeply concerned about the current political crisis in the country that has been triggered by what international and local election observers have described as “rigged election results” announced by the Electoral Commission..
President Julius Maada Bio was declared the winner of the presidential elections at the first round of ballots in June, but the actual disaggregated polling station results have been hidden from the public by the Chief Electoral Commissioner – Mohamed Konneh, prompting accusations of electoral fraud.
The main opposition APC party and the international community are calling for the publication of all polling station results to ensure transparency and to verify the legitimacy of the Bio-led government.
There has been no statement from the opposition in the country on the alleged plot.