The government in the last hour has shut down the country’s internet service to prevent the sharing of images of the protests
Three people including one state security personnel and two civilians have been killed during a protest in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
According to Sierra Leone Telegraph, the protesters are calling for the resignation of President Julius Maada Bio who is on holiday in London, UK with his family, over the rising cost of living.
On Wednesday, Vice President Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh confirmed the fatalities, announcing that a nationwide curfew had been imposed from 3:00 pm local time in a bid to curb the violence and also called on the military to assist the police force in enforcing law and order in the country.
“These unscrupulous individuals have embarked on a violent and an unauthorised protest, which has led to the loss of lives of innocent Sierra Leoneans including security personnel,” Jalloh said.
Bio on his verified Twitter account said the incident will be investigated.
He said “As a government, we have the responsibility to protect every citizen of Sierra Leone. What happened today was unfortunate and will be fully investigated.”
Bio is accused of rampant corruption, human rights abuses, killing of unarmed civilians and prisoners, abuse of State power, poor leadership and the acute economic hardship that people in the country are experiencing.
The government in the last hour has shut down the country’s internet service to prevent the sharing of images of the protests taking place in the northern cities and towns, as well as the capital Freetown – opposition strongholds.
On Monday, the streets of Freetown, shops and markets were deserted as people heeded calls from organisers of the protests to stay at home. Schools and offices were also shut.
The protests have brought bloodshed, with the police accused of shooting two people dead. A security officer could also be seen in a video to be lying dead in a pool of blood.
There are calls for the President to return to Sierra Leone and deliver a public broadcast to calm political tensions.
But critics say that President Bio may well use the violent protests as an opportunity to declare a state of emergency to extend his stay in office, with presidential and general elections less than a year away.
It is also being rumoured that sections of the military may stage a coup as the government appears to have lost control.