FURTURE ELECTIONS IS NOT SYNONIMOUS WITH YEAR 2028

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By: Winstanley. R. Bankole. Johnson

It was very easy for anyone in the audience to have discerned from their respective demeanour and depositions at the recent Press Conference by the Tripartite Committee who, between Dr. Emmanuel Gaima and Dr. Kelfalla Marrah was more sincere and committed to addressing Resolution No.3 of the Bintumani Accord signed on 18th November 2023. Despite the emphatic references to the need for a demonstrable display of patriotism and national cohesion by both parties as the necessary ingredients for political stability, Dr. Gaima’s give away was his prevarications to the agenda, as was evidenced by his veiled belligerence, couched in his dogged allusions to Year 2028 as the next “Iron Cast” electoral cycle for this country. To me he played the government card of insincerity much too early in the game.

Focus

Contrast that with the placid, witty and rather consummate submissions by Dr. Kelfallah Marrah which resonated very well with, and drawing not only intermittent rounds of applause from the audience but involuntary nods of approvals by the Panel Chairman and Information Minister C. Bah as well. Throughout, Dr. Kelfalla Marrah restricted his focus on need for the Tripartite Committee to prioritize the primordial reasons for the Committee’s existence with particular reference to Resolution No.3 to wit: “to examine” the antecedents to the June 24th 2023 elections and to make the necessary recommendations which should be “actionable and implementable”. In other words Dr. Kelfallah Marrah was imploring the SLPP Lead Dr. Gaima not to pre-empt the outcomes of the Committee by his persistent references to Year 2028 as the next electoral cycle.  

What was further disheartening to me was to observe Dr. Gaima – someone for whom I can vouch had for the better part of his life epitomized a candour[a1]  for honesty, accountability and transparency and is even well-grounded in the rubrics of governance at both local and central government levels – almost lapsing into intemperance by refusing to agree that virtually no distinction exists between “examination” and “investigation” of the June 24th 2023 elections results. He would rather prefer application of the phrase: “to review”, which in actual fact is synonymous with the verb “to examine”. 

To understand Dr. Gaima’s mindset and preference for a “review” instead of “examination and investigation”, one would first have to align it with that of the Anti-Corruption Commissioner Francis Ben Kiafalla’s. This is so because to the SLPP, only misdeeds of the APC must be vigorously “examined and investigated” and the culprits jailed, whereas if they pertain only to the interests of SLPP and their loyalists, only “systemic reviews” are required to be undertaken (Ref. Paran Tarawalie, Ministry of Finance Directors, National Revenue Authority, SL Broadcasting Corporation etc).

Crux

Whatever betide, those results of the June 24th 2023 elections are definitely going to be probed and in granular forms too if you please!! Only that will enable citizens across the political divide to prove or verify that the mandate from the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission Sierra Leone by which former Chief Justice Babatunde Edwards swore Dr. Julius Maada Bio into office as President of Sierra Leone, and by which the latter has been officiating since 27th June 2023 was genuine and not stolen. The need to forensically examine, investigate, probe or review the June 24th 2023 elections results is the crux of the matter for setting up the International Elections Investigative Committee, and both the APC and our International moral guarantors should countenance no distraction away from that. It is outcomes of those forensic elections investigations that will define the actual recommendations on the way forward.  So it was impetuous, disingenuous and even premonitious of insincerity on the part of the SLPP Lead Dr. Emmanuel Giama to have hinted on anything to do with elections re-runs when in fact that was not on the agenda.

Facts

Now here are two logical facts that should be made very clear to the SLPP:

  1.  By their condescending to a participation in the ongoing Tripartite Committee processes indicates “ab-initio” a clear acquiescence – if not admission – by them that Dr. Julius Maada Bio’s claim to the Presidency as announced by the Chief Electoral Commissioner was suspect, flawed and therefore requires further in-depth investigations, examinations and probing by forensic elections experts. It is why on the evidence of it all the SLPP could continue to be so boastful about that same authority which the ECSL is still refusing to publish or broadcast in granular forms as obligated by various extant electoral laws, in addition to their audacity to continue to govern on such a questionable electoral mandate that beats my imagination. 
  • The question of elections re-runs is not only a fallacy, but an impossibility given all the legacy issues arising out of local and international governance treaties and obligations (financial and political) that could have been illegally contracted by this Bio regime and by implication all the Local Councils since assuming office in June 27th June last year or thereafter. That is if the forensic investigations prove that Dr. Julius Bio’s mandate to continue govern was stolen. This is because governance being a continuity the only way around that will be for FRESH ELECTIONS to be conducted so that the next legitimately elected  administration can move on from that point on a clean slate.  

Fresh

Special attention would need to be paid to both above points by those who out of disdain for a Samura Kamara Presidency and engendered by an imaginary 2028 Agenda, are touting statements by the American Ambassadors that they are not aware of any plans for elections re-run as Gospel. Incidentally to that motely group sadly belong former mentees and beneficiaries of Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma and Dr. Samura Kamara. In their cases, what to British High Commissioner Lisa Chesney was a violation of the Geneva Convention on International Diplomacy, is now sounding as acceptable insofar as it is to spite Dr. Samura Kamara in particular and the APC Party in general.  But “commonsensically” if any American Ambassador has any locus to predict our election cycles, what should stop us from thinking of appointing them as Chief Electoral Commissioners as well?

In the event the recommended outcomes of the investigations into the June 24th 2023 elections dictate that the SLPP/Dr. Bio won them on a clean slate, then so be it and they/he can continue governing the state without expectations or suspicions, let or hindrances. Otherwise FRESH (not Re-Run) ELECTIONS  become mandatory, failing which our international moral guarantors including those who part-financed, supervised and witnessed their conduct to wit: the ECOWAS, AU, NEW, EU, UK, US, Germany, France and the Republic of Ireland will continue to withhold their future support to this country, and that could be detrimental for our economy. Our economic situation already as dire it is.

Figment

Those moral guarantors are not only united in their stances not to have congratulated Dr. Julius Bio on the basis of what they believe were fictitious results as announced by Mohammed Konneh to this day, but also in their resolve that upon completion of the proposed thorough forensic examinations of those elections results, all those deemed culpable to have tampered with, or been involved in the undermining  of any of the processes leading up to the final announcements of those elections results (that is to say from the fake Mid-Term Census, the imposition of Proportional Representation/Block Voting System)  Registration of Voters countrywide, Printing and distribution of Voters ID Cards and Ballots Papers,  Counting, Collating, Transmission of Ballot Papers, and announcements of those final results.

All of our moral guarantors comprising the ECOWAS, AU, NEW, EU, UK, US, Germany, France and the Republic of Ireland were unanimous that what Mohammed Konneh announced reflected fundamental inaccuracies and inconsistencies, for which everyone involved in that fraudulent supply chain must be made to account for their misdeeds in full under breaches of the extant electoral laws. And in that regard there should be no compromises. Whether they belong to the security forces or not is irrelevant.  After all their “Oaths of Office” is supposed to be to the State, and not to individual political office bearers. Those expected recommendations should be factual and reflective of the will of the majority of Sierra Leoneans, not just a figment of the imagination of any individual or particular political party.

Cataclysm

I will not be surprised if in typical SLPP propaganda styles, I begin to see delegations of Paramount Chiefs and other Local Traditional Leaders, non-descript political party affiliations and prominent Civil Society all springing up throughout the country in the coming days and appealing for citizens across the political divide to dismantle the Tripartite  Committee and “just move on”. Well I have bad news for them, because this rustic culture of leaving things unaddressed simply because we just want to “move on” has not helped us in any way since independence up to this day, and explains the growing decadence and indiscipline in virtually every facet of our society including our Universities recently.

Can anyone just sit back and imagine the level of chaos, lawlessness and wanton destruction to lives and properties that will descend on this country at the next electoral cycle if we fail to probe the last elections forensically? Between April of 2018 to date, the line between the “Executive” and all other state security and legal apparatuses is indiscernible – blurred in fact – because each one of them would appear to have been captured by the “Executive”. And so if the status quo should prevail until the next electoral cycle without the June 2023 elections being forensically probed as has been mandated to the Tripartite Elections Investigating Committee, the ECOWAS, AU, Commonwealth, UN, EU, USA, UK, and the rest of the world will have to take full responsibility for any ensuing cataclysm in this country by the next elections even if they lead to a partition of Sierra Leone. Thus far and unless our Constitution is amended to reflect otherwise (God forbid!!) every Sierra Leonean is guaranteed his/her Constitutional freedom to associate with any political party of his/her choice, and no one should be deprived of that inalienable.   

Flexibility

Those who wish to decry APC for our persistent reliance on the International Community for what they deem our internal problems requiring only internal solutions need only to consider the number of souls lost between 2018 and 2023 including innocent ones out of sheer political intolerance countrywide, but more especially within the North-Western regions deemed as APC strongholds. Many a time people were mowed down like leeches, or arrested and detained unnecessarily each time they tried to exhaust their constitutional limits for internal dispute resolution processes through spontaneous public protestations, as if Sierra Leone was Police State.  They may also wish to reflect on the fact that it is our very memberships to various international organizations and treaties that entitles us a flexibility to always reach out for external aid, or for such organizations to even reach out to us without them being prompted, both in the interest of national cohesion and regional political stability.  

Prevaricating

Thus far – except for a few glitches that had absolutely nothing to do with the present political impasse (including the alleged 26th November coup plot)  – the Tripartite Committee would seem to be progressing reasonably well, though it is likely their timeline will have to be extended by two months. I entertain no doubt that their ensuing recommendations will be consensual, given all the parties’ commitment to national cohesion, sustainable peace and political stability. To those prevaricating on whether or not President Bio will accept the recommended outcomes in the event they do not favour the SLPP or because SLPP Chairman and President Bio himself had openly stated that they (as SLPP) will never hand over political powers to the APC, I can only caution here that this entire Elections Investigating enterprise is Dr. Julius Maada Bio’s brainchild, and he is very unlikely to withhold his ultimate assent for two reasons:

  1. This is not a “Government White Paper” matter requiring his discretion. Besides all the players have long committed themselves that all the recommendations will be “actionable and Implementable”, and of course they will be made public.
  2. The writings are already on the wall because it is time bound.

But whichever side of the divide one stands, one has to accept even if it is with deep reservations, that the clause “Future Elections” in the Terms of Reference (TOR) of the Tripartite Committee within our local political context, is not synonymous with Year 2028.


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