Sylvanus Fornah Koroma gives update on the drama of politics playing out in Sierra Leone

Sylvanus Fornah Koroma

For those who ever doubted that rigging elections are not part of the Paopa regime, let it be known that Mr. Julius Maada Bio has joined his wife in acknowledging and endorsing a group of lawyers from the Madam Tuma Jabbie Gento-Kamara team of aspirants for the 2024 executive elections for the Sierra Leone Bar Association (SLBA).

This acknowledgment happened when it became public knowledge that the General Legal Council (GLC) is investigating the events of the inconclusive and so-called elections on May 18, 2024, during the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of SLBA in Kenema. In those so-called elections, the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) fired teargas in the hall, and there is evidence that the SLP took instructions from the Anti-Corruption Commissioner, Francis Ben Kaifala.
For those who need to know, in that hall in Kenema, lawyers protested against his imposition as the Returning Officer and for failing to adhere to the principles of fairness and justice in executing the functions of a Returning Officer for such a prominent body as the SLBA. They pointed out that his conduct was on camera, capturing evidence of his fraudulent conduct and rigging of elections by distributing ballot papers to his cronies and their associates with no form of verification.
During his misconduct as the imposed Returning Officer, the hall included people who were not lawyers, lawyers who were not SLBA members, and SLBA members not on the qualified voting list. This information was crucial because the program provided a closed session period where guests were to be asked to leave the hall, and issues about membership were to be addressed solely by qualified SLBA members.

For those in the All Peoples Congress (APC) who want to sacrifice the Party that has contributed to your political prominence by failing to protect the June 2023 multi-tier votes, be reminded that Mr. Julius Maada Bio can deceive you at any time for what he may call ‘the good of the country,’ which is merely for his convenience. His statements are on record.

Therefore, those in the APC who are quick and gullible to accept what is presented to them should cross-check and review the historical context before considering statements from the Leader of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), Mr. Julius Maada Bio, who has openly stated that he is in politics to protect the SLPP from being bullied.

Would the APC leadership stand by and allow the SLPP leadership to bully the APC?

The current APC leadership should deeply ponder over this rhetorical question and stand firm if the leadership is fit for purpose! A few days ago, the National leader of the SLPP, who doubles as the head of government, trivialized the Tripartite Committee by questioning, “What is the Tripartite Committee?”

For those who care to know what the Tripartite Committee is, or need a reminder: The Tripartite Committee emerged from the APC’s political action when the Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone (ECSL) and Mohamed Konneh announced a blanket figure without providing the official results, leading to an imaginary figure.

The Tripartite Committee is part of the Electoral Systems and Management Bodies Review, one of the 8-point Resolutions in the Communique signed as the National Unity Agreement on October 18, 2023.

The Tripartite Committee’s mandate is to examine the June 2023 elections. As implied, the Tripartite Committee comprises three bodies: (1) The Government of Sierra Leone, (2) The APC, and (3) The Development Partners (International Community). Each body is represented by 8 members, and the Committee is co-chaired by three leaders from these bodies: Dr. Emmanuel Gaima for the government, Dr. Kelfala Marah for the APC, and the Development Partners (International Community).

For those who care to know more, the Tripartite Committee, in executing its mandate to examine the June 2023 elections, had a deadlock on issues, prompting APC members to officially request the ECSL for the breakdown results of its first announced 60% and the breakdown analysis of the entire results announced on June 27, 2023.

Instead of adhering to transparency, the ECSL responded with arrogance, noting that the APC members’ request was non-compliant with the administrative procedures outlined in the Terms of Reference (TOR) of the Cross-Party Committee on the Electoral Systems and Management Bodies Review.

However, the APC Tripartite Committee members’ request for the ECSL to publish and gazette the June 2023 election results conformed with the ECSL’s mandatory functions as outlined in section 32 (11) of the 1991 Constitution, and sections 52(b) and 93 of the Public Elections Act, 2022 (PEA 2022).

For those who are signatories to the principal document of the Tripartite Committee yet act as doubting Thomases about what the Tripartite is, this indicates serious challenges ahead regarding the outcome of the Tripartite Committee Report. Sane thinkers can predict consensual and non-consensual reporting.

The outcome of the Tripartite report will reveal whether Sierra Leone is ready to end electoral injustice to usher in real peace, unity, and development, or continue with the mistaken belief that bullying will be tolerated in modern-day Sierra Leone politics.

For those who care to know, our laws (the Supreme Court judgment on the combined cases SC6/2018 and SC7/2018) have set a precedent on the legal phrase ‘cause of action,’ which thoroughly guides plaintiffs/petitioners for election petitions taken to court.

A ‘cause of action’ refers to the set of facts or legal reasons that give someone the right to seek a legal remedy against another party. This is one of the main reasons the APC insists that the ECSL publish and gazette the June 2023 election results, maintaining transparency.

The gazetted results serve as the official evidence for petitioners to determine irregularities, fraud, or other reasons against the announced results. This wisdom is reflected in the statutes, using the term ‘declaration’ instead of announcement or proclamation.

The declared results must be supported by an instrument in section 51(2) of the PEA of 2022, as otherwise, the voting process is rendered meaningless.

For those who do not know, Mohamed Konneh (ECSL) announced his tribesman as the winner of the June 2023 Presidential elections with a blanket figure, and similarly declared his political party, the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), as the majority party.

Mohamed Konneh has been associated with the SLPP over the years. This is why, when asked to show how he arrived at his announced figures by publishing and gazetting the results, Konneh and some cohorts resorted to threatening citizens. However, people are determined to end such impunity.

The leader of SLPP reiterated that Sierra Leone is for all, not just a select group. If Konneh is confident in his announcement, he should publish and gazette the results. The Tripartite Committee and the National Unity Agreement were formed to address the issue of publishing and gazetting the June 2023 election results to foster legal requirements in section 54(1) of the Public Elections Act of 2022, (PEA, 2022).

The June 2023 elections are far from over, as the declaration of results is incomplete. The declared results must be embodied in an instrument containing the results received from presiding officers, as stated in section 51(2) of the PEA, 2022. These results are essential for petitioners to use in court to prove irregularities, fraud, or other reasons.

For those who need a reminder or recall one of Umaru Fofanah’s recent reminders on his Facebook post quoting the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) set up to investigate the cause of the civil war in the 1990s: “Prior to 1991, successive regimes ignored the wishes and needs of the majority.

Instead of implementing positive policies, each regime perpetuated the ills of its predecessor. Internal factors accumulated, making armed rebellion attractive for many disaffected Sierra Leoneans, including unrestrained greed, corruption, and bad governance. Institutional collapse reduced the majority to deprivation. Government accountability was non-existent. Political expression and dissent were crushed. Democracy and the rule of law were dead.

By 1991, Sierra Leone was a deeply divided society, full of potential for violence, requiring only the slightest spark to ignite it.” Current events echo these past issues.

Did we not see the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Francis Ben Kaifala usurp the position of Returning Officer to rig the SLBA executive elections in Kenema on May 18, 2024, to favour his Kailahun sister and many of his tribesmen/women?

Was there not an attempt to pass a bill for non-financial accountability for the presidency? What were the reasons for removing the Auditor General, Mrs. Lara Taylor-Pearce, from office recently?

Why was lawyer Joy Bayoh locked up quite recently? Do you not think electoral injustice keeps peace away from Sierra Leoneans?

Sierra Leoneans need peace, but peace without justice is a sham. Therefore, most Sierra Leoneans prefer justice now more than ever, starting with implementing electoral justice in the June 2023 elections.

For those who need to know what is happening now in Sierra Leone, Sierra Leoneans are determined to end electoral rigging impunity, starting with the June 2023 multi-tier elections. For those who need to know what is happening now in Sierra Leone, United States Ambassador Hunt posted that he was honoured to host a reception highlighting the U.S. commitment to supporting ‘LGBTI+ persons’ and their fight for equal rights and opportunities. I hope American Ambassador Hunt respects our culture.

However, I am personally asking for the views of our Sierra Leonean religious and moral guarantors on this development. I also seek the views of Civil Society Organizations on this upcoming development championed by the American Ambassador Hunt in current-day Sierra Leone.

I look forward to comments on this development from all corners of Sierra Leone in the coming months.


Related Posts

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.