Page last updated at 17:47 GMT, Thursday, 14 August 2008 18:47 UK

Unrest 'appals' S Leone leaders

File photo of Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma
Ernest Bai Koroma was elected in September 2007

Sierra Leone's government is "appalled" by clashes between supporters of the ruling and opposition parties in the capital, a minister has told the BBC.

Minister of Information Ibrahim Ben Kargbo promised that the incidents would be investigated.

Clashes on Wednesday included an attack on offices and a radio station belonging to the opposition.

Sierra Leone has been trying to rebuild itself after a decade-long brutal civil war that ended in 2002.

'Model of democracy'

At a meeting called by President Ernest Bai Koroma, who won elections last year, both parties agreed to call on their supporters to show restraint.

But after the end of the emergency meeting ruling party supporters apparently threw water on opposition representatives and several journalists were beaten up, the BBC's Umaru Fofana reports from the capital, Freetown.

Mr Kargbo said the meeting had been held in good faith.

"What happened at the gate was a matter that we have to investigate," he told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.

"We have allowed the media in this country to practise freely, and therefore we should also be able to protect members of the media," he added.

The ruling All People's Congress (APC) party had no reason to attack the opposition Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP), he said.

"We are appalled because this is a government that is working towards reconciliation - that is working towards bring back happiness to the people of this country," said Mr Kargbo.

"We also want to see ourselves as a model of democracy in Africa," he said.

Mr Kargbo suggested President Koroma might take measures to boost the country's police force following the unrest.

"I would not be surprised if the president takes the decision one of these days to restructure the police force," he said.


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