Wednesday May 26, 2004
The Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) has suffered a rather devastating blow after that resounding success scored at the general and Presidential elections exactly two years ago. This time around the party has woefully failed to click in the Local Council elections held last Saturday in the Western Area.
ERNEST KOROMA : HIS PARTY IS ON THE MARCH ONCE AGAIN
They woefully fell prey to their long-term rivals the All Peoples’ Congress (APC) who swept the polls in almost the entire Western Area. The APC seem to have repeated the 1964 feat when they swept the polls of the Freetown City Council election that paved the way for the late Siaka Stevens to become Mayor of Freetown. It was from that position that he led the APC to defeat the SLPP in the next General Elections.
The landslide victory of the APC has been attributed to the voter-apathy adopted by most citizens in the Western Area, more especially those in the elite class who did not even bother to register. Majority of them adopted the not-too-interested stance. Some later regretted that they did not register when the photographs of the eligible contestants were placed over the various wards in the city.
A teacher who registered for the exercise, but did not cast his vote said, “how can I go to the polls when my April salary is not yet paid?” However last Saturday’s elections have some hitches as confusion and irregularities tend to mar the rebirth of Local Council elections after a lapse of almost three decades. In about six areas, elections were cancelled because the names of the candidates were printed alongside the wrong symbols on the ballot papers The SLPP however will be represented in the City Council through Aruna Bangura who made it at the polls in Central 11. Down in Kono, the All Peoples’ Congress lost all the seats it contested. In Kamakwie, veteran Sports Journalist of the former Daily Mail Newspaper, John Roc Kargbo made it through under the banner of the APC. The SLPP took consolation by winning some seats in the strong hold of the APC in Port Loko. Up in the Mountain Rural District the SLPP made a clean sweep through Godwin Thomas, Edward Caesar and Idrissa Kamara. The Secretary General of the SLPP Mountain District, Mende Bangura also won a seat as an Independent candidate. Meanwhile it has been reported that the only successful independent candidate in the Kenema District was reported to have died in a road accident along the Bo-Kenema highway last Sunday.
WE ARE NOT HAPPY WITH THE GOVT–SLPP SUPPORTERS
A cross section of SLPP members stormed our office last Sunday complaining about SLPP’s inability to win in the local council elections in Freetown.
Speaking on their behalf one of them said that they represented over 1000 SLPP registered members with party ID cards and NEC registration cards but refused to vote because the government is not doing well. He went on to say that two years ago, they rallied behind President Kabbah and the SLPP so that they would defeat the APC, which they did successfully.
According to him, because the government refused to help the poor, “we decided not to take part in this Local Government Elections, which we think is the only way we can vent our anger.” Another member in the group who is a lady said that what angered them most is the cement crisis.
She said that the cement company Leocem and the government issued a press release that the price of cement is Le16, 400 but in the shops, it is being sold for Le25, 000 and the government is doing nothing to reverse the situation. “We are tired of this government as they have turned their backs on us. We were humiliated by APC we did everything possible for the SLPP to win in 2002, but they in turn have proved ungrateful to us.”
The results coming out in the Western Area is speaking for itself. The leader of the group went on to admonish President Kabbah that the SLPP should be aware of the years ending in the figure ?7′ as they have experienced problems during such times. In 1967 he went on they lost the election because Lansana Brewah who was an independent candidate switched over to APC and Brig. Bangura took over. “In 1997, Johnny Paul overthrew us. So we want to remind the SLPP that come 2007, if they continue to suffer us we would do the same” he added.
PRESIDING OFFICER CAUGHT FORGING
A Presiding Officer of the National Election Commission (NEC) was caught forging results in the just concluded Local and District Council elections at Mile 91. According to report monitor here in Freetown, the Presiding Officer was alleged to have attempted to forge the results in favour of an SLPP candidate.
The latter was reported to have lost the election to the APC candidate. His untimely behaviour nearly brought the peaceful scene that prevailed at the area to an ugly situation. It was the timely intervention of the Police that denied the occurrence of any ugly scenario. The police also arrested a man with four different identity cards bearing the same photos, but with different names in Magburaka. He has been detained pending court action.
According to source at the Police the security situation in Makeni, which was dubbed as a flash point before the elections, was without any hitch during and after the elections. Giving an overall assessment of the security situation in the country, the Inspector-General of Police- Brima Acha Kamara maintained that despite minor election malpractices the entire process went on rather peacefully. He however said that there were some minor clashes in Port Loko between the two rival parties – SLPP and APC but his men deployed out in the field quelled the situation.
The Inspector-General also spoke about an attempted demonstration in Kenema by supporters of an Independent candidate, but the security personnel on the ground also thwarted that incident. He confirmed that at least some 16 people who were caught during the elections in some act that has no bearing to the elections law would soon be charged to court.
WESTERN AREA RURAL DISTRICT
MOUNTAIN RURAL AREA (4 COUNCILLORS)
Idrissa Kamara SLPP 986
Godwin Thomas SLPP 879
Edward Caesar SLPP 904
Mendi Bangura INDEPENDENT 834
WESTERN AREA RURAL DISTRICT
KOYA RURAL AREA (4 COUNCILLORS)
Abu Bakarr Bangura APC 1905
Cecilia Harding APC 1902
Abu Jalloh APC 1889
Thaimu Kanu APC 1772
WESTERN AREA RURAL DISTRICT
YORK RURAL AREA (4 COUNCILLORS)
Alhassan Cole APC 4421
Samuel Billy Kanu APC 4003
Mohamed A.K Kamara APC 3814
Paul Akim Sesay APC 3546
FREETOWN CENTRAL I
Rev. Lawrence Lawson APC 6463
Mariama S. Sesay APC 5983
Foday Mahmoud Sesay APC 6377
Samuel Bonghor Sesay APC 5828
FREETOWN CENTRAL 2
Rosalind Forde APC 3267
Herbert George-Williams APC 3243
Eugene Sankoh APC 3047
Momodu C.S. Kargbo APC 2901
FREETOWN EAST I
Hamid Samba Kamara APC 8183
Abdul Salaam Lewally APC 7546
Lambrana Mansaray APC 8141
Ahmed Samba Turay APC 7892
FREETOWN EAST 2
Ibrahim Samba Kamara APC 7181
Chernor G. Kamara APC 7287
Mohamed B. Kamara APC 6963
Sheka Koroma APC 6203
FREETOWN EAST 3
Foday Kaloko APC
Abu Bakarr Kamara APC
Abdul S. Kanu APC
Gibril I.B. Kanu APC
FREETOWN WEST 2
Augustine Kamara APC
Collins Thomas Pearce APC
Ahmed Kabba Turay APC
Kainde Bangura APC
FREETOWN WEST I
Whistanley R.B. Johnson APC 2747
Eluzai Cole APC 2874
Virginia Renekeh Kamara APC 2607
Aruna Bangura SLPP 2555
FREETOWN WEST 3
Shaik H. Sawaneh APC
Contago M.C. Sesay APC
LOW TURN-OUT AT LOCAL COUNCIL ELECTIONS
Voters trickled into polling stations in Freetown Saturday to cast their ballots in the first local government elections for over thirty years. Unlike the 2002 Presidential and Parliamentary elections the long lines were not evident, dispelling hopes by election officials that late in the afternoon voters would troop into the polling stations.
After casting his ballot at the Old School polling station Saturday, President Tejan Kabbah said he was pleased the elections process had been without violence. Speaking briefly to reporters the President said “this is a very important step in the consolidation of the peace,. the hard won peace in Sierra Leone. It’s my dream coming true, that we Sierra Leoneans should put behind us the association of the exercise of our democratic rights by way of voting with violence.”
President Kabbah noted that “This is the second major elections that we’ve had since 2002 and the nomination days for both, on both occasions passed on peaceful; and this one has so far gone on peacefully.” He stated that he was “very pleased about it” adding that “this means that we really are there as far as violence is concerned we now have it behind us.”
Meanwhile the main opposition All Peoples Congress party leader Ernest Koroma was not too happy with the entire process. Just after casting his vote at the Seventh Battalion polling booth in Goderich, Mr Koroma told reporters that in “certain areas specifically the Tonkolili District in the Yoni chiefdom, in Kono District especially in the polling station that is close to the residence of Chief Kamanda and also Kamakwei in the Sella Limba Chiefdom wherein the Chief is reported to be snatching voter ID cards from the voters and in the Tonkolili District senior government Ministers plus the Paramount Chief of the Yoni Chiefdom intimidating people”.
He also accused minister Okere Adams of threatening to kill one of his supporters, alleging that this happened in front of the police. Mr Koroma also alleged that in Mathoi and Masorie and Mathei villages”the presiding officers have commandeered the voting, they have chased all the voters out and it is just a field day for the SLPP in those areas. Mr Koroma maintained that these actions would affect the out come of the elections.
Questioned whether he subscribed to the President’s statement that the elections were violence free Mr Koroma argued, ” No violence does not necessarily mean a free and fair elections.” He warned that they are “still committed to the process but we are observing.” He went on “I have warned the SLPP government that we are not going to accept the outcome of any chequered election in the name of peace we are not going to accept any process because we have to guarantee peace, I think we have had peace long enough for us to be able to put in place structures and systems that will guarantee our democracy.