The Mayor of Freetown, Yvonne Aki-Sawyer, is featured in a new BBC documentary titled “Mayor on The Front Line,” which highlights the challenges she faces in her re-election campaign for the June 24, 2023 elections.

The documentary details the constraints Mayor Aki-Sawyer encounters due to her party being in opposition for over five years. She expresses concern that her efforts to transform Freetown are hampered by her political affiliation.

“My party has been in opposition,” Aki-Sawyer said. “I promised to transform Freetown, and I know I can do more. But I have spent five years with my hands tied behind my back, facing investigation after investigation. The government took me to the Anti-Corruption Commission, Parliament, and a special audit. My tenure has seen the highest level of intimidation and harassment compared to any politician in recent years.”

The documentary showcases instances where the Mayor interacts with the police and prepares for legal proceedings related to charges of disorderly behavior and obstructing police duty.

“I was about to board a flight with my councilor, and the police stopped him,” Aki-Sawyer explained. “I asked them why he couldn’t board and expressed concern about this operation. Is this how we should operate in Sierra Leone now?”

She further elaborated on her legal case regarding a Facebook live video, stating, “It’s ridiculous to be in court over a Facebook live. Even if I raised my voice, it feels disproportionate.”

The documentary also includes a response from the Local Government Minister, who stated, “The ministry condemns such behavior. What the police did was within their mandate.”

Aki-Sawyer describes her experiences with intimidation and confrontation, including threats against her sister. She believes these tactics, along with the legal cases, are intended to hinder her work and weaken her campaign.

“I feel like a hunted animal, a rabbit with foxes after me,” she said.

The documentary notes that while the first two years of her term saw some cooperation with the government, her criticisms of certain policies led to increased pressure and ultimately, the charges against her.

Aki-Sawyer’s lawyer contends that the charges against her are politically motivated and lack evidence.

The documentary offers insights into the challenges faced by Mayor Aki-Sawyer in her re-election bid while raising questions about the use of legal and security measures in the political landscape.