Sierra Leone’s president, Julius Maada Bio, on Friday said recent anti-government protests that turned deadly were meant to overthrow his government.
He was addressing the nation for the first time since the protests that lead to the deaths of six police officers and at least 21 civilians.
The protests were over alleged economic hardships and bad governance by President Julius Maada Bio’s government.
The protesters, mainly youths had gained entry into the country’s Lungi airport after the military and police unsuccessfully tried to stop them.
Some of the protesters were demanding that President Bio must go.
Police officers then used tear gas and in some cases guns to disperse the large crowds of protesters who were throwing rocks and burning tyres in the capital Freetown and several towns in the opposition’s northern heartland.
Residents accused the police on Wednesday of firing live bullets at the protesters resulting in violent clashes and the deaths.
In a statement ECOWAS said it “strongly condemns the violence that occurred in many locations in Sierra Leone and have led to loss of lives.”
ECOWAS called “on all to obey law and order and for the perpetrators of the violence to be identified and brought to justice, in accordance with the law.”
President Bio said in his national address that “This was not a protest against the high cost of living occasioned by the ongoing global economic crisis.
“The chant of the insurrectionists was for a violent overthrow of the democratically elected government,” he said, assuring that the government would investigate all the deaths.
ECOWAS and partners hope there is no escalation from this civil unrest in Sierra Leone, which has not fully recovered from its bloody civil war of 1991 to 2002.