Tripartite Committee and the end game : What are the next steps or missteps ?

*Tripartite Committee’s Endgame: What Follows?*
*Next Steps or Missteps?*

_Yusuf Kanu_ – *04/07/24*

Now that the Tripartite Committee has completed its mandate, the very question we are faced with is the ‘what next?’. Any narrative on this hardly goes beyond the fundamentally indispensable calls for implementation. It was relatively effortless for President Julius Maada Bio to receive the report in front of everyone. However, there is obviously still a long way to go – perhaps a longer way. I commend the members of the APC who worked tirelessly to bring us this far. We are exactly where we are today because the APC repeatedly disagreed with the 2023 election results. Moreover, our actions align with our perceptions. Our disagreement was shown in words and actions, especially the boycott whose end opened the space for all of this.

Setting up a Tripartite Committee wasn’t an indemnity or some kind of incentive given to us because our elections were stolen in broad daylight. It wasn’t President Bio’s olive branch initiative as the Chief Minister David Sengeh lied on radio. These are electoral reforms we are certain we need at this point, and we are spearheading. Now that we have a clear picture of where we went wrong or I should say what was leveraged, implementation is the way to go. The end of the Tripartite Committee begins a new chapter, like I have said, one that perfects all of our endeavours. Electoral, institutional, and legal reforms can not be achieved by social media posts or any propaganda agenda.

The intersection of these three is where our goal lies. The election management body, state institutions, and electoral laws were all exploited in the 2023 election rigging. As a way of starting with the lowest hanging, but most fruits, it’s imperative that they are a starting point. Recommendation 20, for example, which provides for the establishment of an oversight committee on Electoral Matters, re-echoes APC’s advocacy for the institutional preparedness of the Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone (ECSL). Throwback to 2022 when we opposed attempts by the ECSL to use data from the sham of a census for boundary delimitation in a blatant show of unpreparedness. Think about the Public Elections Act, which provides for the cancellation of votes in the incidence of violence at the polling station. The provision in itself embodies an abuse of people’s rights. Institutions managing elections should be prepared to protect people’s votes and not leave a room that can be exploited by losing parties, like the SLPP during the bye-election in constituency 110.

Recommendation 23 is definitely complementary to this. Drafting a Declaration that guides the conduct of security forces at polling stations is key to deterring a repeat of the ugly incident at constituency 110 and other places where the security forces became accomplices to the Government’s brutality. It’s important as well to avoid situations wherein live rounds were fired at the APC party office where armless civilians assembled. I can go into more and more recommendations and highlight why I’m pleased that they were factored into this report, but I’d rather everyone see them for themselves.

I may return to this later, but let me zoom out on the bigger picture of this article. I deliberately turned blind eyes to the areas of divergence in the report because I don’t expect the APC and the SLPP to be on the same page. What I’m particular about is the success of the APC, and it is not to be intercepted through fraud, intimidation, and things of that sort. Now, we have 80 recommendations to implement. This is where our next journey begins. I have called for practicality in the past, and there’s no better time to charge the SLPP to heed to this call. The government proudly counted the approval of the US$ 480 million by the Board of Directors of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) as one of its big wins. The Vice President was “extremely pleased” as were other members of the government.

But you and I know what Congress has signalled. Congressional approval of the compact is contingent on the implementation of the recommendations of the Tripartite Committee.Everything is tied to it. So far, the government has chosen expediency over vainglory, and that has gotten them this far. What I look forward to is advancement in this trajectory for the collective good.


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