Thursday, November 6, 2014

Rumors of David Tam Baryoh's Release

President Ernest Bai Koroma
It seems as if the Sierra Leone government of President Ernest Bai Koroma has caved under mounting domestic and international condemnation and quietly ordered the release of radio journalist David Tam Baryoh, a journalist who was once close to the authorities in Freetown, but had recently fallen out of favor due to his close association with the country's Vice President, a man who the President now considers a pariah.

Like a thief in the night, David Tam Baryoh was reportedly quietly released under the cover of darkness. With an intention of hanging on to power beyond his constitutional mandate, President Koroma has over the past two years elevated those brave enough to go against public opinion and openly advocated for the change of the constitution to extend his mandate and quietly dismissed or marginalized those in his party who he views as not dancing to his tune or may be harboring Presidential ambitions of their own.

David Tam Baryoh
If the release of David Tam Baryoh is true, it may not be unconnected with the scathing indictment of the growing tyranny of Koroma by a major British Newspaper, which condemned him for jailing a journalist who questioned the ineptitude of the government in handling the country's Ebola crisis in the country and also queried the selective enforcement of quarantine in the country. Many people are now realizing that the Ebola crisis is being used as an excuse to suppress political opinion and impose an unwarranted state of emergency in the country. Already several people close to the Vice President have been rounded up under the emergency regulations.

The report in the British Guardian that David Tam Baryoh had reportedly been beaten and jailed was a major development, as the British public would not want to see their soldiers fighting Ebola in a country presided over by a tin can despot who is busy trampling on press freedom at a time when his effort should be on fighting the plague that is devastating the lives of the citizens of his country. Koroma would not want the world to add political intolerance to his list of recent failures, as his handling of the Ebola epidemic in his cash strapped country has been nothing short of catastrophe.

David Tam Baryoh would not want to make much trouble for Koroma, a man whose largess he had been enjoying until recently. There was already talk that he had told his lawyers not to pursue legal recourse but to find a negotiated settlement to the situation away from the country's judicial system, a wise move given the fact that Sierra Leone's courts invariably rule for whoever is in power. President Koroma is also very generous to his journalist friend and Baryoh may not want to see this well run dry, so he has decided to settle the matter under cover.
Vice President Sam Sumana

Many Sierra Leoneans are watching in amazement as a country that was just seven years ago seen as a beacon of democracy in West Africa is slowly sliding back into an autocratic state where police brutality is growing rampant, press freedom is under threat, the parliament has become a rubber stamp, poverty is increasing in spite of new found mineral wealth and the President is modifying democratic institutions to create a one party tyranny.

Meanwhile the Ebola scourge continues in the country with the only good news being that now that the international community is sending an influx of resources to tackle the outbreak, new outbreaks seems to have stabilized, at least according to official figures.

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