Written by Alie Formeh Kamara :
Sierra Leone’s 2012 Presidential election is a turning point in the history of Sierra Leone. It is important for several reasons chief of which is that Sierra Leoneans voted in massive numbers to chose between the politics of yesterday versus the politics of the future. This is synonymous to choosing between the politics of violence versus the politics of peace or choosing between the politics of retrogression, thievery and corruption versus the politics of prosperity and integrity.
The 2012 Presidential elections is also important because there was a major shift in the political landscape of such immense significance, as we shall see later, that warrants noting.
The best way to see the major milestones in the 2012 elections is by comparing it to the Presidential elections of 2007. On the overall, both political parties bolstered their national votes in 2012 relative to 2007. But the APC showed a much more impressive performance with an overall increase of 364,474 votes or 38.3% compared to an increase for the SLPP of 47,866 or 6.1%.
From the district perspective, APC votes rose in all districts and in the Western area except for two districts namely; Bo and Bonthe, both of which are major strongholds of the SLPP and are located in southern Sierra Leone.
The picture is not all that good for the SLPP which posted negative votes in seven of the twelve districts in the provinces, when compared to its performance in 2007, with the single largest numerically negative vote in Kono district of negative 31,546 votes. The dismal performance of the SLPP in Kono is followed by dismal performance in Kailahum and koinadugu districts where the SLPP posted negative 26,170 and negative 14,797 votes respectively.
The SLPP’s best showings are in Bo and in Bonthe where statistics show that the get-the-vote-out strategy for the party paid off the most with an impressive increase of 63,795 or 60.5% and 24,449 or 86.4% for Bo and Bonthe respectively when compared to its performance in 2007. The Bonthe increase comes as no surprise as Bio is the son of Bonthe district.
To make sense of the major shifts in statistical performances one should examine the possible causal effects. The SLPP has lost its footing in Northern Sierra Leone and this is exemplified by its dismal performance showing losses at every district in the North. The choice of Bio as SLPP’s flag bearer is suspected to be the cause of its poor showing in the north and this may not be unconnected to the extra-judicial killings by Bio’s NPRC of 29 innocent civilians including Bambay and Salami Coker.
Also significant is SLPP’s loss in Kono of the Eastern province to the APC. Though Kono is a major loss for the SLPP, but its loss was a forgone conclusion because Kono is home to major players in the APC to include the Vice President of Sierra Leone and the First lady Mrs. Sia Koroma.
By far, the most telling of a diminished SLPP in 2012 is the shift in the stronghold of the SLPP that saw Pujehun and Kailahun posting high percentage increases for the APC in their quest to show that they are grateful for the new developments in their districts. While Pujehun posted the highest astronomical increase of 267% in the 2012 elections as a whole to any single party, Kailahun posted the second best percentage increase of 126% for the APC. These shifts, in particular, in the eastern and Southern regions of Sierra Leone has demonstrated that the APC is now also the party of progressive Easterners and Southerners all because of the warm embrace of His Excellency Ernest Bai Koroma of all his people.
Now for a final examination of party posturing during the campaigns and what that meant, the APC’s last rally in Bo was so dismal that Awareness times Newspaper published a provoking article describing the rally as a flop. Not surprisingly, the flopped rally was reflective in the poor performance of the APC in the elections. Bo district, incidentally, was one of the two districts that the APC polled negative votes when compared to its performance in 2007.
Now, for the SLPP, one wonders why in its last day for campaigning in Freetown they chose the need to, using the popular phrase, ‘rent people’ from other districts far from the south to rally in Freetown merely for the visible effect to show parity with the APC’s best Freetown mammoth rally? That SLPP showing was deceptive at best and it is consistent with current allegations that the rally was staged to portray false impressions of their voting strength to use as evidence after the SLPP pull strings to undermine the integrity of the Freetown elections and seek its disqualification.
We clearly saw with our naked eyes pictures of ‘rented people’ packed like sardines and stranded in Lorry parks waiting to return home after the Freetown rally. We also were privileged to see copies of emails exposed online in Newspapers from Mr. Nyale and other senior SLPP folks igniting fuses to set off major disturbances they hoped will lead to the cancellation of the Freetown and Northern province votes where the SLPP knew they will be beaten severely
Unfortunately for the SLPP and fortunately for Mama Salone, God foiled the plans of the SLPP. Long live Sierra Leone.