The Elephant in the Room : Underlying issue causing potential challenges remains unresolved in Sierra Leone


“The elephant in the room” is an idiomatic expression and a figurative speech.

It refers to a significant issue or problem that everyone is aware of but chooses to ignore or avoid discussing. This could be due to discomfort, fear of conflict, or other reasons.

The phrase is often used to highlight something very serious and obvious yet unaddressed in a situation or conversation. In this publication, I intend to bring out 3 questions that have to do with the elephant in the room which has a direct link with the June 24, 2023, multi-tier elections conducted by the Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone (ECSL) in our beloved country Sierra Leone. But, to appreciate this topical discussion, and before going into the said 3 questions, let me seize this moment  to generally  state the several repercussions that can occur when an elephant in the room is not addressed, so, we would all endeavour to do the needful this time for the betterment of Mama Salone:

Persistent Problems: The underlying issue remains unresolved, potentially leading to ongoing challenges or difficulties within the situation. This can hinder the progress and productivity of our dear Mama Salone if, for instance, we fail to fairly and justly address the June 24, 2023, multi-tier elections.

Increased Tension: Ignoring a significant issue can cause tension to escalate among individuals or parties involved. This tension may manifest as frustration, resentment, or conflict, impacting the overall atmosphere and dynamics.

Miscommunication: Failure to address the elephant in the room can result in miscommunication or misunderstandings. Different individuals or parties may have varying assumptions or perspectives about the situation, leading to confusion or discord.

Stagnation: Lack of resolution can lead to stagnation, lack of forward momentum, or lack of progress. Opportunity for growth, improvement, or innovation may be missed as attention remains focused on avoiding the underlying issue.

Damaged Relationship: Ignoring important issues can strain relationships and erode trust. Individuals may feel unheard, marginalized, or invalidated, leading to a breakdown in communication and collaboration.

Repetition of Patterns: If the elephant in the room represents a recurring issue or pattern, not addressing it allows the cycle to continue. This can create a sense of disillusionment and resignation among those affected.

Impact on Decision-Making: Unaddressed issues can influence decision-making processes negatively. Decisions may be made based on incomplete or inaccurate information, leading to suboptimal outcomes.

Missed Opportunities for Improvement: Addressing the elephant in the room often presents an opportunity for improvement, growth, or positive change. Not taking action means missing out on these potential benefits.

Overall, the repercussions of not addressing the situation where there’s an elephant in the room can range from ongoing problems and strained relationships to missed opportunities for growth and improvement. It’s essential to proactively address significant issues to foster a healthy and productive environment.

Sometimes, we listen to leaders talk about what caused the 11-year rebel war in Sierra Leone. Some also read about or witnessed the actions and inactions of those in authority that led to the war. That war is now part of Sierra Leone’s history. The importance of history lies in adopting the positive values we learned from it and endeavouring to avoid the negative things that caused the war. As long as we ignore these facts, we remain prone to the repetition of such a war, which we should collectively address with fairness to avoid the ugliness of another war. No one can succeed in continuously bullying someone of equal strength or even slightly more; and the day the bullied overcomes the bullying, is something a sensible bully must be wary of!


On June 27, 2023, when Mr. Konneh made his controversial report of the multi-tier June 24, 2023, Presidential elections announcement, he refused or failed to publish the results of the said announcement and gazette it as per law. No law in Sierra Leone prevents the National Chief Electoral  Commissioner/National Returning Officer or the Electoral Commission from publishing the results. On the contrary, there are laws mandating the publication of the aforementioned election results. Moreso, other electoral documents like the Results Reconciliation Forms (RRF) can then be used to verify the correctness and authenticity of the announced results. The Public Elections Act, 2022, provides in section 52 paragraph (b): “The National Returning Officer shall, after declaring the results of a presidential election – as soon as possible, cause the result of the election to be published by notice in the Gazette and any other manner that he may think fit.” Section 93 of the same Act further emphasizes the importance of publishing the results and it states: “As soon as may be after the National Returning Officer has declared the result of the election or elections under subsection (4) of section 93, the Electoral Commission shall publish the results so declared in the case of an election of –

  • President, in the manner prescribed in section 52; and
  • Members of Parliament, by Government Notice and in any other manner as he may think fit.” The above 2 sections of the Public Elections Act, 2022, are particularly useful for the application of section 54 subsection (1): “A person who is a citizen of Sierra Leone and has lawfully voted may, in a presidential election challenge the validity of that election by petition to the Supreme Court within 7 days after the declaration of the result of a presidential election under subsection (2) of section 51.” The said section 51 subsection (2) provides: “As soon as possible after receipt of the result of the counting of votes under subsection (1), the Returning Officer shall tally and compute the results certified to him by the various Presiding Officers and shall after that declare the result of the election.” This last section explains the rationale for the National Returning Officer and the Electoral Commission to publish the results as soon as the results are declared as per section 93 of the same Act because the received results had already been tallied, computed, and even certified, section 92 of the same emphasizes the same. Section 54 subsection (2) of the same requires evidence because going to the Supreme Court without evidence is a mere waste of time, and the evidence of the results of the election shall be based on the published Gazetted results according to the Supreme Court judgment SC. CIV.APP. 6&7/2018; Paragraphs 130 & 131 of the aforementioned judgment: “130. These propositions as to how to handle election cases in all fairness do not even arise in this case as, what has been presented and is before us, in the absence of detailed records data and statistics as exhibits, do NOT even reach the threshold for such consideration. It borders on frivolity. The inevitable conclusion is that there has been no sufficient averment of facts that would justify judgment one way or the other, hence no cause of action shown from both petitions and those petitions ought to be struck off.

“131. In conclusion the Petitioners have failed refused or neglected to produce any evidence to rebut the fact that Brigadier Rtd Julius Maada Bio now president was validly elected as President of the Republic of Sierra Leone. All things considered the Petition of Dr Sylvia Olayinka Blyden as SC6/2018 and that of Dr Samura Mathew Wilson Kamara, Minkailu Mansaray, and Ambassador Dr Foday Yansaneh as SC7/2018 now consolidated as SC Cases 6 and 7 of 2018 are all herein struck out.”

As I said earlier, I stand by my statement that there is no law in Sierra Leone preventing the National Returning Officer and the ECSL from publishing the June 24, 2023, multi-tier elections, and I have already established that there are laws mandating the publication of the elections results particularly the June 24,2023, multi-tier elections. What is now becoming an open secret for the failure and refusal of the National Returning Officer, Mr. Konneh and the ECSL to publish the results to test, verify and provide evidence for the controversial announcement made on June 27, 2023, by Mr. Konneh is directly related to section 120 of the Public Elections Act, 2022, which explains the law regarding ‘Falsification of return of election’, and it states: “A person who being a member or officer of the Electoral Commission, charged with the counting of votes or the making of a return at an election, wilfully falsifies the count of the votes or wilfully makes a false return commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of not less than 20,000 Leones or to imprisonment for a term of 5 years or to both fine and imprisonment.” Mr. Konneh and ECSL are aware of this law, and they know that they can be easily and successfully prosecuted once they publish the results by notice in the Gazette. But how long will Konneh and his team continue to hold a whole nation in stagnation? This action or inaction of Konneh and the ECSL team has led us to witness coup d’état arguments and counterarguments that are avoidable in a fragile economy or state like ours.

Not long ago, on January 25, 2024, I watched a very popular Sierra Leonean program on YouTube on the Talking Point Platform (TPP) forum that hosted the current Minister of Information, Chernor Bah. In that program, the Minister commented on a previous TPP program that he watched which was broadcast by both TPP and Wi Yard on December 27, 2023. TPP hosted 2 Captains of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) who openly commented that the real ‘coupists’ or coup makers are those who aided and abetted the conduct of the electoral coup of the June 24, 2023, multi-tier elections. This is a sad reality, but some of the hardships we are currently facing as a nation could have been avoided, had Mr. Konneh and the ECSL published the results of the June 24, 2023, multi-tier elections. The failure to publish the said results led the All Peoples Congress (APC) to take the political action of non-participation of its elected members in all forms of governance. The political action of the APC singularly almost crippled the newly formed government as democratic nations were unwilling to assist us in a lot of ways including our dependence on budgetary support. As a matter of fact, the Government of Sierra Leone workers were experiencing serious delays in the payments of their salaries at the end of the month. In fact, many Sierra Leoneans believed that it was because of this repercussion that the Government through the Independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion (ICPNC) negotiated for the signed Communique which resulted in the Tripartite Committee. Notwithstanding, Mr. Konneh and the ECSL have refused and failed to comply with the law, and or, are yet to comply with the law. The constitutional and statutory framework governing elections in Sierra Leone provides clear mandates and guidelines that must be adhered to for a fair and credible electoral process. The Constitution of Sierra Leone, 1991, in its Section 32 Subsection (11), unequivocally states that the Electoral Commission shall not be subject to the direction or control of any person or authority in exercising its functions. This provision underscores the independence and autonomy of the Electoral Commission in carrying out its duties, including the crucial task of publishing election results.

The Big Elephants In The Room in Sierra Leone includes:

What would happen when Mr. Konneh and the ECSL finally publish the results and the results announced fail to meet the requirements particularly that of section 42 subsection (2) of paragraph (e) which states: “The following provisions shall apply to an election to the office of President – no person shall be elected as President of Sierra Leone unless at the Presidential election he has polled not less than fifty-five per cent of the valid votes in his favour: and”?

The Tripartite Committee (i.e. The Government of Sierra Leone, The All Peoples Congress, The Development Partners) is being established to examine the electoral systems, structures, and processes of the 2023 multi-tier electoral cycle. It further explains in its Terms Of Reference (TOR) that the Committee will be informed by previous elections with a view to highlighting and addressing the contentious issues of elections and results management including the collation, verification, authentication, and publishing of electoral data consistent with international best practice to enhance the credibility of all future elections in Sierra Leone that guarantees elections to be free, fair and credible.  In the Mandate of the Committee, it is stated amongst others that in the fulfilment of its mandate, the Committee shall take the following actions: Request access to all relevant documents, records, and information necessary for the conduct of its examination. Should Mr. Konneh and the ECSL in fear of being prosecuted on account of Section 120 of the Public Elections Act, 2022, deny the request to access relevant documents, records, and information necessary for the conduct of its examination, would that not warrant a possibility for the country to return to the position and situation prior to the signing of the Communique?

Let us first look at the three brief explanations of the following types of elections: Run-off Elections, Re-run Elections, and Fresh Elections. Run-off Elections are held when no candidate in the initial elections receives a majority of the votes as per the threshold of such elections as stated in Section 42 Subsection (2) paragraphs (e) and (f) of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone. The top two candidates with the highest number of votes proceed to a second round or run-off election, where the winner is determined by a majority vote. This type of election ensures that the elected candidate has the support of the majority of voters. On the other hand, Re-run Elections, also known as repeat elections, occur when the initial election is invalidated due to irregularities, fraud, or other legal reasons.

In a re-run election, the entire voting process is conducted again, often with stricter measures to ensure fairness and transparency.

This type of election is meant to correct the issues that led to the invalidation of the first election. An example of this type of election was repeatedly and infamously done at Constituency 110 in 2019 and 2020 after the 2018 elections. Lastly, Fresh Elections, also called new elections or snap elections, are held outside the regular election schedule. They are called either due to a specific trigger ( such as a government collapse, a vote of no confidence, or other political reasons) or as a proactive measure to seek a new mandate from the electorate. Fresh elections allow voters to choose new representatives or confirm their support for the current leadership in a more immediate manner than waiting for the regular election cycle. What possible type of election(s) do you foresee to be recommended by the Tripartite Committee should Mr. Konneh and the ECSL’s June 27, 2023, announcement fail to meet the required threshold for its legitimacy?

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