April 5, 2018 By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
Former Ghana President John Dramani Mahama has reacted to social media attacks against him by some Sierra Leoneans who have alleged that he was part of a conspiracy to rig the run-off presidential election in favour of the opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party.
Mr. Mahama was appointed chair of the Commonwealth Observer Group to monitor the elections in Sierra Leone, but has come under scathing verbal attacks from some members of the ruling All Peoples Congress who accuse him of meddling in the presidential run-off election.
Reacting to the allegations, the former Ghana President wrote in a statement that went viral on social media that he arrived in Accra, Ghana to a flurry of social media stories and other worrying reports attributed to officials of the Sierra Leonean Government that he had cut short his mission and left Freetown because of his support for one of the candidate of the opposition, Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio.
He explained that as chair of the Commonwealth Election Observer Group to Sierra Leone, he was officially due to complete his mission and leave Sierra Leone on Monday, April 2 via Kenya Airways, according to his flight itinerary issued by the Commonwealth Secretariat in London.
Mr. Mahama first came as a Peace Ambassador of the Political Parties Registration Commission just before the March 7 election and helped negotiate the signing of a communiqué by presidential aspirants who pledged to maintain peace and accept the election outcome if credible.
He returned as head of the Commonwealth Observer Group and played a key role in diffusing tension, not least after a joint police and military team besieged a house used by Mr. Bio as Tally Centre in the west of the capital, Freetown.
He recounted that following multiple issues that arose just when the tallying of the result from the run-off began, the Secretary General of The Commonwealth, Baroness Scotland, requested him to stay one more day to work with his colleague heads of International Observer Missions to resolve the issues that had stalled the tallying process.
He said that he and his colleagues were locked in multiple meetings with political stakeholders on April 1 until well after midnight to achieve consensus for the tallying process to proceed, adding that the meetings were chaired by Professor Amos Sawyerr, head of the ECOWAS Observation Mission.
He said that just before departure from Freetown he joined his colleague former Presidents – Amos Sawyer of Liberia, Kgalema Motlanthe of South Africa and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas – at the Presidential Lodge to brief President Ernest Bai Koroma on their efforts in reaching an agreement between the political parties and the National Electoral Commission in order that the tallying process could proceed.
“I bid farewell to President Koroma before I drove to the sea coach to leave for Lungi Airport. My departure from Freetown was not sudden and when I bid farewell to President Koroma I did not get any indication in word or deed that I was not wanted anymore in his country,” he said.
He said he left because his mandate as Head of Mission had ended and that the Commonwealth Technical Team was also due to leave Freetown on April 3, but a cancellation of their Air France flight kept them in Freetown until Wednesday, April 4.
Reacting to allegations that he had meddled in the election in favour of the opposition candidate, Mr. Mahama said: “International Observers have no capacity to change the will of the people, in any election. I, John Dramani Mahama, have no interest in who governs the people of Sierra Leone. The long nights, early mornings, long meetings, diplomatic shuttles were all aimed at helping Sierra Leone choose their leader freely, maintain the peace and consolidate their democracy.”
He said that as President of Ghana and Chair of ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government in 2014, he visited Sierra Leone when all others abandoned the country and foreigners were leaving and offered his country as the staging post for the fight against Ebola.
He maintained that he was of the view that a credible election would consolidate not only Sierra Leone’s democracy but also its peace, bearing in mind its past gruesome civil war.
“If my presence, in the midst of a volatile and violent situation, at Goderich during the first round of voting to prevent what would have clearly marred a beautiful day of election, or my actions in conducting my mandate as head of my mission has so angered some people so much, as to throw such accusations at me, I can only respond that, I wish Sierra Leone well and that on this exhausting mission, I put my best experience at the service of that nation’s democracy and I pray that in the end, whoever emerges as leader will continue to consolidate this process and continue to build on the good works of his predecessors,” he said.