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Sierra Leone News: Awoko Tok Tok: National disgrace

At the funeral of the late Head of State (Pa Kabbah), we saw the military in full attendance. However we observed that the soldiers were all in combat fatigues and not one of them wore the red ceremonial uniform. Infact the only thing ceremonial about the dressing of the soldiers was the white gloves they put on.
We just witnessed the funeral of Mandela, and we saw that all the different arms of the military were dressed in their ceremonial uniforms. The navy were in their white, the airforce in their blue, the army in their brown, so what is wrong with Sierra Leone?
This is why we ask the question, are we still at war? Because combat fatigues are only to be worn when an army is at war. Before the rebels ran riot in our country, the military had brown tergal uniforms with blue stripes at the side much in line with what the police wear.
The war has been over now for 12 years. What are we still waiting for? Why is the military still behaving as if we are at war? Do we have a democratic civilian army?
We ask all these questions because just a month ago we celebrated Myohaung day, and we saw the soldiers dressed in their red ceremonial uniforms, including the Commander-in-Chief who addressed them well robed in the full ceremonial uniform. So why is someone or some people making a mockery of this country?
We know that combat fatigues were designed such that soldiers can sleep in them and wear them for the next one month without washing or ironing them. Have these scruffy combat fatigues now become our ceremonial uniforms? Who is it who took this decision and why?
Was it a political decision to make a mockery of us? Was it a deliberate decision to play down the funeral ceremony and make it appear low key and of no real significance? Can those who took that decision own up to the disgrace they have brought on our country when their counterpart military officers in West Africa, Africa and the world watch pictures of this funeral and see the way they have presented themselves and our country? Can any military in the world conduct a state funeral without any soldier wearing a ceremonial uniform? What a farce.
The Ghanaian born BBC journalist Komla Dumour was given a State funeral in Ghana … and the coffin was carried high by soldiers with the navy taking centre stage in their white … so what is wrong with Sierra Leone?
Indeed not one soldier was dressed in their ceremonial uniform. This is disgraceful. Is this the military that we now claim to be above politics?
Moreover this country is no longer at war, why were there military men in full combat gear running around the streets and in the stadium? Is this their constitutional duty? Is the conduct of internal security not the business of the Police? Should the police not have been on centre stage doing their constitutional duty? What security did the military provide that could not have been provided by the police?  Is the business of the military not to protect us from external threats, and to come in only when the Police are unable to provide the required security within? What extra security was demanded at Pa Kabbah’s funeral other than the protection of President Koroma?
It is our view that this government must institute an investigation and explain to the people of this country this national disgrace. It is one thing to stand in public and acclaim the country’s democratic credentials, but it makes nonsense of all the speeches when we conduct ourselves in such blatantly disgraceful manner.
This country belongs to all Sierra Leoneans and until we begin to treat ourselves as equals and with respect, we will never be respected. Until the constitutionally created institutions are allowed to function as prescribed by the constitution, we are merely playing lip service to our democratic credentials.
May God help Sierra Leone
Tuesday March 25, 2014

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