-Former President Ernest Koroma
August 24, 2021
Dilating on the secret behind the confidence bestowed on him by the African Union (AU) to lead a 34-man delegation to observe the just concluded Zambian Elections, former President Ernest Bai Koroma told journalists in his home town of Makeni that, he is a man of peace who never takes advantage of his position against anybody, coupled with his quality as a listening leader.
“For that reason, I have exposed myself to the extent that people want me to be everywhere at the same time, although I have to prrioritise.Requests are coming in their great numbers. It has been engaging since after my retirement,” he said.
Since the Zambian elections presented a complex situation with the current president having contested six elections and three with the outgone president, he said the AU thought it fit to assign him for the complex job of ensuring peaceful outcome of the elections.
“There were serious tensions around the elections due to the fact that the opposition never accepted the outcome of the previous elections in 2016.The AU never wanted a situation wherein the outcome of the elections will result into a conflict. Through it conflict prevention diplomacy, the AU wanted someone to ably handle the elections and prevent conflict. My assignment was twofold-to observe and manage post-election situation,” he said.
He said the AU was interested in the Zambian elections for the unique role played by country in the liberation of Africa, especially the south.
He said being the pivot for the liberation of Africa and a model of democracy, the AU was highly interested in maintaining that uniqueness of the country, hence assigned him as head of delegation that constituted former ambassadors and other diplomats, to handle the elections in Zambia.
He noted that despite several issues, the AU team made sure that every step of the election process was transparent and credible; adding that the most difficult moment for them was to convince the players to accept the outcome of the election.
“It was a great moment of promise for the Zambians. The AU is very pleased that they succeeded in maintaining democracy in Zambia. We have a responsibility in building our democracy and consolidate peace in Africa. It was a difficult and an explosive situation but we have to commend the Zambians who came out in their numbers to cast their votes,” he said.
He urged the need for other African countries to learn from the Zambian example by ensuring transparent and credible process in elections.
“People should believe in the process and their votes should be counted. The outcome should be the will of the people. Elections should not be a matter of life and death. The will of the people cannot be stopped and elections should not polarise a nation,” he emphasised.
He commended the conduct of the Zambian civil society who followed the process and ensured transparent and credible electioneering process.
He also commended the security forces, who, he said, despite the mountain tension, were able to handle the situation without any complain of human rights violation.
After his retirement, former President Ernest Bai Koroma has been fully engaged by the African Union and other regional bodies. He is a founding member of the West African Elders Council whose mandate is to promote peace, democracy and stability in the Sub-Region. Former President Koroma is also a member of the Global Steering Committee for the Campaign for Nature. He has endorsed and currently championing the advocacy for an African Engineering Peace Corps which seeks to utilise portions of the continent’s militaries to address critical social, economic and infrastructure challenges.