By Titus Boye-Thompson :
The announcement of the recently concluded election results brought with it the realization that one would be apt to never forget that precise moment when such a historic and momentous announcement was made. These things tend to linger on your subconscious and you would recall it years later as you tell your grandchildren who would care to listen to your ramblings about how you played a part in making Sierra Leone what it shall have become by then. Whether you encrust the truth with snippets of anecdotes, tell of the interesting event or hilarious happenings that convey a lighter side to bear on your retelling of events or you are serious and sombre just to impinge on your audience, the sense of sinister foreboding and the danger that very nearly engulfed the nation if the wrong choice were to have been made is only a matter for speculation. The simple truth is that as Sierra Leoneans played their part in that epoch making moment, they all contributed to the process of making our democracy stand up to international scrutiny. Our Country should hold itself proud in the company of civilized nations as a result of exercising its duty to manage a truly fair and competent election process. We have successfully passed the test of true and mature leadership. The die is cast. There can be no turning back, Sierra Leone must not be for turning and this nation should march on with that resounding hope for a future filled with greatness.
The Institutions that guided this great ship of State to such lofty heights must not be forgotten in the ensuing jubilations. Already, Christiana Thorpe, the National Electoral Commissioner who suffered vilification and aspersions to no end is hailed as a forthright and principled person but guardedly and in some quarters, she continues to be held in awe and consternation as to her ability to hold a steady head in the midst of such vociferous admonition from those who felt hard done by within the process. Even the devil as they say have someone who loves him, so let it be that some may loathe Christiana Thorpe but that should not detract from the fact that the lady has done a good job, all told. Her announcement prior to the release of these results made a few days before the actual release tells volumes of her fortitude and inner strength of character. In essence, she made it plain that there was no need to cast doubts on provisional results in a process where adequate measures were in place to deal with anticipated irregularities. She had advised anyone with an axe to grind, especially in relation to any discrepancies to take their grievances to the Police as invariably, and rightly so, any such accusations or allegations were matters for the police to deal with. The youth in their usual extension of interpretations coined the phrase, “if you are hurt by anything, go to the police,” or as more vividly put in local creole parlance, “if ee art you, go police.” Nonetheless, the NEC staff and those of other institutions such as the Political Parties Representation Council, development partners represented by the Global Fund, DfID , the EU and those international observers from ECOWAS, Mano River Union, Commonwealth Secretariat, AU and also not forgetting local actors such as the Women’s Situation Room, Civil Society Watch etc. have all played their part in this process. The contributions made by each and every one of these institutions secure their place as guarantors of our fledgling democracy.
It is inevitable that for the smooth Administration of Government, the President has to be swiftly sworn in. This was done with utmost fiat and demonstrated that the wheels of State and sovereign authority were well heeled and functioning appropriately. It is also significant to note that upon being sworn in, the President’s first affirmation was to continue what he has been doing in the past five years, dedicating himself to working for the good and for the benefit of the people of Sierra Leone, relentless in his ambition to secure a nation of prosperity as a lasting legacy to this Country. President Koroma has reconfirmed his promise to do more for Sierra Leoneans. To those who lost the elections, a worthy adversary has taken the torch and it is but right that the business of Government should proceed. The results will not please everyone, not even in developed countries are elections settled without rancour. The challenge for us now is to work on our democracy, see how we can improve its efficiency and institute proper guidelines that would ensure that future elections and other acts of democratic endeavour are carried out with much less chagrin. In the event, one of the urgent and most pressing need would be for a process of national reflection so that we can together as a Nation, review the manner in which this election was conducted and to gain closure on the results, to offer an opportunity for reviewing the legal and constitutional parameters that guided the major institutions involved in its execution. To this regard, a conference on national reflection would not go amiss as that would accord all those who have a stake in these events would be given a chance to present their positions for peer review or for national debate and consideration. Having said that, there is however the alternative for these results to be challenged in the Courts as per the Constitution. That is sure to bring about a long drawn out and in some cases internecine battle that would detract from the business of democratic governance. The case of flying chads, hanging chads and other chads hung over an election process in America some years back. This did not result in a drawn out battle but was conceded after an initial court challenge that in the interest of securing the tenets of a truly democratic dispensation, it were better to loose honourably than to relegate the process of election management and supervision to the scrutiny of the legal system. In the event, George Bush was allowed a second term as the incumbent and also on the principle that any further arguments over the results will tend to undermine American democracy and cause more damage to the social and political psyche than any victory that may ensue from such engagements. So it is in Sierra Leone, where the matters at hand are incomparable to the situation in the USA. This is not a case of a closely run race but one in which the losers are sore that they are not in a position to be offered a consolation prize. That the elections were held on a “first past the post” basis is lost on those who now cry foul, even though to some pragmatic thinkers, the post is set rather too high.
It is but necessary therefore to promote peace and stability in the Country for the elections to be put behind us. The die is cast. President Ernest Koroma has been given a mandate by the people to continue in office. The international observers have given the elections a clean bill of health. There is no reason to countenance a ;power sharing or government of national unity when the APC Party has so firmly won the elections. The democratic rights and privileges of other parties have not been unduly denied, all parties were free to campaign everywhere and so they did. Just that the people have spoken in essence and the victor is clear for all to see. No amount of reconsideration or otherwise recalculation or re calibration will erase the true result that President Koroma was the popular choice and the choice least likely to cause an upset in the political and socio geodynamic of the Country. The Man has done a good job and that is widely recognized. Let us move on and start the work of making Sierra Leone a donor country, a prosperous nation and the best place to live, work and learn. The die is cast.