By KABS KANU :
I am very delighted today– and I am sure most of my countrymen and women in Sierra Leone and the diaspora will also be –because at the UN today the Executive Representative of the UN Secretary General in Sierra Leone ( ERSG ) , Mr. Jens Hans Toyeberg Frandzen –The man who replaced Michael Schulenberg –formally briefed a very curious UN about the Saturday November 17, 2012 Presidential, Legislative and local council elections.
It must be recalled that the UN Peacebuilding Commission Sierra Leone Specific Configuration last met in New York to discuss the elections on Friday June 22, 2012 in a special session attended by the Chair of the Elections Commission, Dr.Christiana Thorpe, and participants by satallite fom Freetown including the new Executive Representative of the UN Secretary General, Mr. Jens Anders Toyberg-Frandzen ; the Inspector General of Police, Francis Munu ; the Registrar of the Political Parties Registration Commission, Mr. Abraham John; and representatives of the National Elections Watch, Civil Society and other groups . During this important stakeholders’ meeting, some fears were expressed by some PBC members about the challenges that could arise from the multi-tier elections, including chaos from the politically charged atmosphere and the bitter rivalry between the two leading political parties—The ruling All People’s Congress ( APC ) and the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party ( SLPP ), especially as the country’s media was accused of fanning tribal and regional flames.
It was held by PBC members then that the elections would represent a watershed moment in the Sierra Leone’s progression from a critical post-conflict situation to one fully committed towards promoting democracy and peace and tranquility . It was thought that if Sierra Leone overcame the crucial challenges surrounding the elections, then she would have demonstrated that she was now prepared to put her past behind her and open a new page of peace consolidation and socio-economic and political development. From all the statements made by stakeholders, it was possible that many harboured fears that the going would be very tough for the country during the elections, if the challenges were not handled properly.
Well, two weeks after the elections, the PBC held another session today on Sierra Leone to make an overall assessment of the November 17 polls . The ERSG, Mr. Jens Anders Toyberg-Frandzen , joined by satellite from Freetown , to provide the report of the United Nations Peacebuilding Office ( UNIPSIL ) on the just-concluded elections, the present situation in Sierra Leone and the way forward for the nation.
With a look of satisfaction on his face, the ERSG reported to the UN today that the elections were peaceful, free, fair and credible. He said the polls were well conducted . He also reported to the UN that President Ernest Koroma won the elections and now that the President has a fresh mandate from the people he said he was now looking forward to President Koroma forming his cabinet shortly. He described the elections as a resounding success for the people of Sierra Leone.
The ERSG attributed the
Mr. Jens Anders Toyberg-Frandzen praised Sierra Leoneans for demonstrating a commitment to the principles of democracy and a determination to move the country forward in a new spirit of peace and reconciliation . He said he concurred with the many international observer teams that the elections were free, fair and credible. Voter turnout , he went on, was unprecedented and the polling stations opened on time and polling was well-conducted and peaceful.
MR. JENS TOYBERG FRANDZEN
Mr. Frandzen said that on polling day he saw for himself the enthusiasm and commitment of the people to democracy . He also praised the Police and other security agencies for being able to protect the people on this crucial day .He also said he was pleased to report that after initially registering their concerns for the conduct of the elections, the opposition SLPP stated at a meeting at State House with President Koroma on December 3 that the President’s election was no longer in contention and the party also rescinded its initial plans to boycott Parliament. Mr.Frandzen stated that Sierra Leoneans have sent a strong message of their commitment to democracy, peace and reconciliation. He praised all the political parties for their commitment to peace as there were no serious incident on elections day.
He told the UN that, with respect to the security situation, Sierra Leone is calm and the curfews imposed in Bo and Kenema had been lifted. He promised the UN that UNIPSIL will continue to work with the government, political parties , the PPRC etc. to ensure continuation of peace and tranquility. He called on the PBC and other partners to continue their support to Sierra Leone.
After the Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Shekou Touray read a statement (SEE OTHER COLUMN ), PBC members from Nigeria, Italy, The European Union ( EU ), Benin and Pakistan separately congratulated the people of Sierra Leone for holding peaceful, free and fair elections and reassured the nation of their commitment to continue working with her .
One of the most inspiring statements came from the Nigerian representative, H.E. Emmanuel Obi Okafor , who is a Minister in the Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the UN. He welcomed the positive development in Sierra Leone .He said the greatest thanks went to the Sierra Leonean people . He said that it gladdens the heart and makes Africa proud that Sierra Leone pulled off the elections and he stressed continuous reconciliation and inclusiveness in governance. He called on NEC not to rest on its oars and address those areas of challenges that would have derailed the elections. He asked NEC not to wait until the next elections.
Mr. Okafor made a special appeal to the Sierra Leone media to eschew yellow journalism and begin to portray their country in a positive light. He noted that the media took the last elections to the height of apprehension and cautioned media personnel to notice the important linkage between their work and peace .