One-time celebrity Judge, His Honor Adrian Fisher , has taken his time to outline the constitutional powers invested in the Electoral Commissioner , Dr. Christiana Thorpe and the National Elections Commission ( NEC ). This should be food for thought for people talking nonsense about her and what she can do and cannot do. The presentation by the learned former Judge should also educate Sierra Leone People’s Party ( SLPP ) supporters who are planning to dispute the results of the presidential, Legislative and local council elections. Much of what they are saying is born out of ignorance and lack of knowlege of the Elections Laws and the powers vested in Dr. Thorpe by the constitution.
Dr Christiana Thorpe is right now taking her time to process all the results coming in from the various polling stations. When he shall have validated the results and announced them, that is it. Nobody has the power to dictate to her what she should have done. Whoever has problems with the results have the recourse to go to court but they must note that the Supreme Court cannot annul the elections because of isolated and unproven irregularities. Those SLPP intellectuals feeding such hopes to their gullible and unlearned followers are just busy passing on ignorance. That is why the ex-judge is advising all Sierra Leoneans to be patient and wait for NEC to validate and compute all the provisional results , instead of forcing her to rush to announce the results.
His Honour Adrian Fisher wrote his piece before Dr.Thorpe’s press conference yesterday where she debunked SLPP and PMDC claims that there were widespread irregularities and ballot-stuffing. She explained the few problems she has evidence about and steps that had been taken to address them AND SO WE KNOW NOW that there is not going to be a massive nullification of votes as the Judge himself predicted. However, his presentation is still very useful because it educates everybody about the powers the constitution bestows on Dr. Thorpe, which the SLPP must respect, whether they like it or not.
GIVE NEC A CHANCE
By Adrian Fisher
The 2012 elections are over or are they really over? The National Electoral Commission has the legal mandate as guaranteed by s33 of our 1991 Constitution to conduct all public elections in Sierra Leone. This right is further reinforced by s7 of the Public Elections Act 2012. Why have I quoted all these sections? To reinforce the message that it is only NEC that has the legal powers under our laws to decide the question of who won and who lost any elections (inc this one) and no one else. The Sierra Leone election is a three stage process:
i. The Registration and pre-election stage.
ii. The election Stage and
iii. the post-election stage ie counting and tallying of votes.
All of these stages are exclusively within the domain of NEC. So far NEC has successfully managed the first and the second stages although there have been some logistical problems which are to be expected of a third world commission, striving hard to conduct elections under difficult circumstances. They have received wide international acclaim for their role. Now they have entered the third and final stage of the electoral process and over the past few days since the elections it has become apparent that some people are not interested in allowing NEC to finish the work they started or want them to finish it in circumstances of extreme urgency. They have sought to place undue pressure on NEC to announce results very quickly by undermining the efforts of NEC by releasing results (purported to be insider information) of the elections prior to NEC even concluding the tallaying process or by telling NEC to ‘do the right thing’.
This kind of conduct is spreading unnecessary panic and alarm amongst the populace whilst hyping them up to be prepared to a state of readiness to use violence. This is unacceptable and wrong and an affront to democracy. The Law does not impose any time limit on NEC to announce results. (s52 PEA 2012). WHY IMPOSE AN ARTIFICIAL TIME LIMIT ON NEC? WHY IS THERE AN UNEXPLAINED HASTE FOR NEC TO ANNOUNCE RESULTS QUICKLY?[(IN BREACH OF S52(2) OF PEA 2012]
IF APC HAS TRULY WON ON SATURDAY, EVEN IF RESULTS ARE ANNOUNCED NEXT WEEK INSTEAD OF INSTEAD OF THIS WEEK, APC WILL STILL WIN! IF SLPP HAS LOST ON SATURDAY, EVEN IF THE RESULTS ARE ANNOUNCED NEXT WEEK INSTEAD OF THIS WEEK, SLPP WILL STILL LOSE. WHY THE HASTE? “FOWL WHITE, E WHITE”. E BLACK, E BLACK’. WHY THE PUSH NOT TO FOLLOW THE ELECTORAL PROCESS TO ITS LOGICAL CONCLUSION ?
THE PRESIDENT DERIVES HIS LEGITIMACY FROM A CREDIBLE PROCESS. A PROCESS THAT IS UNDERMINED OR NOT CREDIBLE BECAUSE NEC HAS NOT CARRIED OUT ITS FULL FUNCTIONS DOES NOT GIVE LEGITIMACY TO THE PRESIDENT. IF INDEED THE PRESIDENT HAS WON THE ELECTIONS, IT WOULD BE UNFAIR TO HIM TO START HIS SECOND TERM AGAINST A BACKGROUND OF CONTROVERSY OVER MARRED ELECTIONS OR AN INCOMPLETE ELECTORAL PROCESS. PART OF THE PROBLEM OUR COUNTRY HAS EXPERIENCED OVER THE PAST FIVE YEARS WAS THE PERCEPTION THAT THE RESULTS OF THE 2007 ELECTIONS WERE TAINTED BY IRREGULARITIES WHICH LED TO THE SLPP NEVER FULLY ACCEPTING THE RESULTS UNTIL 2012. THIS LED TO HATE, MISTRUST, DISUNITY, BITTERNESS, VIOLENCE, NON COOPERATION IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE COUNTRY AND WE AS A NATION HAVE NOT LEARNT ANYTHING FROM 2007 AND WE WANT TO REPEAT THE SAME MISTAKES AGAIN BY NOT COMPLETING THE ELECTORAL PROCESS TO ITS LOGICAL CONCLUSION, THEREBY ENSURING THE PROCESS IS CREDIBLE AND UNTAINTED. NEC is an independent institution guaranteed by law. The supreme law of the Land, THE CONSTITUTION s32(11) and s3 of the Public Elections Act 2012, guarantees that independence.
NO ONE SHOULD INTERFERE INTO THE FUNCTIONS OF NEC. Political parties cannot be referees and players in the electoral process. They have done their bit, the people have spoken, and it is for NEC to follow the electoral process to its conclusion. There have been calls for the opposition Leader JMB to concede defeat. On what basis are these calls being made? NEC is yet to announce a single official result. Should such a concession be made without a single official result being announced, simply because provisional results gives the ruling party an overwhelming lead? Is conceding at this stage not tantamount to undermining the electoral process? WHY NOT WAIT UNTIL NEC ANNOUNCES 75% OF THE VOTES THEN IF APPROPRIATE CALL ON THE OPPOSITION LEADER TO CONCEDE? If that were correct then in the same vein there should have been equal calls for the President to declare himself the winner based on the provisional results, without waiting for NEC to do any official announcements Why have there been no calls in that direction for the president to break the law? Indeed the President decent as he is has made no public comment, preferring instead to abide by the rule of law and to patiently await NEC to announce official results.Why are the supporters not following suit? If this same trend was followed in 2007, Former vice president Solomon Berewa would have won the elections, the moment provisional results came out. International observers have produced interim reports which would be made final in due course. During the tallying stage, irregularities were discovered which led to NEC exercising discretionary powers to nullify the votes on account of over voting irregularities. Berewa lost the elections. What is different in 2012 from 2007? Similar irregularities have been discovered and confirmed by the chairperson of NEC herself. These must be investigated in order to give credibility to the process. The investigation may well reveal that the President has done even better than the provisional results indicate or worse than the provisional results indicate, or that the Opposition has done better or even worse than the provisional results indicate. NEC has a variety of legal powers to deal with any issues of malpractice in ss87. Where NEC is unable to deal with any issues they can refer the matter to the Courts who can deal with any issues under part X of the Public Elections Act 2012 Either of the two parties have nothing to fear if they have not been involved in any irregularity.
The reputation of Sierra Leone internationally is too important an issue to be toyed with for short term political gain. We should not be notorious as a country who do not like doing things properly. Rushing election results could lead to further conflict, hate, economic inactivity and loss of reputation internationally. Indeed as the saying goes “ WHAT DOES IT PROFIT A MAN IF HE GAINS THE WHOLE WORLD AND LOSES HIS SOUL”.