As APC meets tomorrow, let us see what happened at signing of Tripartite Committee TORS ( From another credible newspaper )

*_‼️Tripartite Committee Co Chairs Sign ToR with Opposing Views on Election Review_*

*_By Amin Kef (Ranger)_*

During a special Press Conference convened by the Ministry of Information and Civic Education on Tuesday February 6th, 2024, at New the Brookfields Hotel on New England Ville in Freetown, the Co Chairs of the Tripartite Committee, Dr. Emmanuel Gaima representing the Government of Sierra Leone and Dr. Kaifala Marah of the main opposition All Peoples Congress (APC) signed the Terms of Reference of the Tripartite Committee witnessed by the UN Resident Coordinator, Madam Seraphine Wakana.

Gracing the signing ceremony were eminent personalities including the United States Ambassador to Sierra Leone, the British High Commissioner, the European Union Head of Mission. Through electronic broadcast, the programme was also followed by a global audience via TV Stations and the Information Ministry’s Facebook platform and other outlets.

The Co Chair of the APC, Dr. Kaifala Marah, began by stating how the June 24, 2023 multi-tier elections ended in a controversy and standoff between the APC and the Government of Sierra Leone, prompted by many issues among which were lack of transparency in the tallying process and the deliberate refusal of the Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone to publish the elections results.

He continued how such a situation made the independent verification of results impossible amidst serious concerns of the public and Election Observer Missions of electoral irregularities and fraud. Dr. Marah underscored how on account of that, the APC Party decided not to participate in governance until its demands on the publication of results were met.

The APC Co-Chair intimated that in order to resolve the impasse, among other things, there was a mediated dialogue facilitated by the Commonwealth, the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States and supported by development partners on 16th to 18th October 2023 which culminated into an Agreement for National Unity with 8 Resolutions.
He disclosed how the parties to the agreement – the APC and the Government with support from Co-Chair, Seraphine Wakana the UN Resident Coordinator, they harmonized and finalized the terms of reference within the stipulated thirty days period further expressing hope to keep the same spirit for the remaining five months of the Committee’s work.

The APC Co-Chair, Kaifala Marah, said the ToR will guide the Committee in its examination of Elections Results Management, which will include the 2023 elections results and previous ones; shipment, tallying and announcement of results, the procedure for the certification and publication of results; electoral redress mechanisms, data migration and voter registration processes; reviewing the efficacy of our electoral laws and regulations, systems, and processes; reports of election observer missions such as the EU and Carter Centre and their recommendations; functional review of key elections management bodies including the ECSL; assessing campaigning and media coverage, etc.

According to him, the Committee will be supported by a Technical Secretariat with relevant expertise to be supported by development partners saying they will be guided by Rules of Proceedings, and a Communication Framework for outreach, sensitization and engagement of relevant stakeholders, including the public.

Dr. Marah highlighted that the assignment, therefore, comes as a sacred responsibility to clear doubts surrounding the 2023 multi-tier elections which, the APC and many others believe were compromised.

He expressed the view that it is in meeting the spirit of that monumental task that he would like to restate the commitment of the APC side of the Committee to ensuring that it is judiciously done and to reaffirm that they will collaborate and cooperate with the Government side, and the development partners to come out with recommendations that will be clearly informed by their findings.

The APC Co Chair then pointed out that all the parties of the Tripartite Committee will now officially append their signatures to the Terms of Reference marking such as the guide in the dispensation of their mandate. Dr. Marah made a passionate appeal to members of the public not to pre-empt the recommendations that will emanate from the Tripartite Committee.

On his part, the Government Co Chair, Dr. Emmanuel Gaima said he would like to remind all that the Tripartite Committee’s mandate, out of the eight (8) resolutions agreed upon at the Bintumani Dialogue Agreement , relates to Resolution 3, underscoring that its main import is for the Committee to review electoral systems and management bodies.

According to him, the national constitution of 1991 and the Public Elections Act of 2022 make provisions for how electoral issues must be addressed. He gave a synopsis of how previously President Bio announced in Parliament the setting up of the Committee but after doing so and with concerns raised he removed the Vice President as Head of the Committee and instead left the entire process to be in the hands of a Tripartite Committee.

Dr. Gaima reiterated President Bio’s commitment to peace and unity revealing that the Government has decided to commit some funds to add to what is being provided externally just to ensure that the process is owned by Sierra Leone.

He said as Co-Chair he is dedicated towards ensuring that the process is widely embraced and to work together with the APC to put Sierra Leone first in the spirit of inclusivity.

During question time, it was asked to what extent the Committee’s mandate will be exercised in the review of past elections. In response Dr. Marah of the APC asserted: “We have a mandate to examine or investigate the 2023 election data. Whatever comes out will be factored in the recommendations we will final make.” His statement did not actually confirm whether there will be a rerun of the 2023 elections, as it has been widely rumoured, but rather underscores the APC’s commitment to a thorough review of the electoral process.

In contrast, Dr. Emmanuel Gaima, representing the Government, adamantly opposed subjecting the Electoral Commission to an investigation, arguing that the Committee lacks the authority to do so. His stance reflects the Government’s concerns over the perceived overreach of the Committee’s powers and its potential implications for electoral integrity.

Some political pundits have argued that the conflicting positions of the Government and the APC representatives have cast doubt on the Committee’s ability to effectively carry out its mandate. They claimed that Dr. Marah’s insistence on examining the elections clashes with Dr. Gaima’s assertion, creating an atmosphere of mistrust and uncertainty surrounding the Committee’s proceedings.

Dr. Marah, however, appealed to the Government for collaboration in implementing the Committee’s resolutions. “We crave the indulgence of Government to collaborate with us to implement some of the resolutions so that people will have trust in the process,” he stated.

It has been concluded that his plea underscores the importance of political cooperation in ensuring the credibility and transparency of electoral reforms.

The highpoint of the Press engagement was the signing of the terms of Reference for the Tripartite Committee by all the relevant personalities.

As Sierra Leone grapples with these challenges, it is imperative for all parties involved to prioritize the interests of the electorate above partisan considerations. Achieving genuine electoral reform will require a concerted effort to overcome differences, foster dialogue, and uphold the principles of fairness and accountability.

*(C) The Calabash Newspaper*

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