Greetings Co-Chairs and Members of the Tripartite Committee,

Unlike those to the Institute for Governance Reforms (IGR) and other Civil Rights Groups, I am not privy to any invite from your Committee to the general public eliciting recommendations for your consideration. However, as a singular voice of conscience representing the aspirations of millions of marginalized Sierra Leoneans that have borne the brunt of cruelty meted out to perceived opponents of the SLPP government in the last five years, I feel compelled to volunteer via this “Open Letter” my personal reactions to submissions contained in a letter dated 30th May addressed to your good selves from the Institute for Governance Reforms  (IGR) detailing a raft of recommendations and captioned: “Recommendations For Electoral Reforms and Inclusive Governance” for your consideration as well.

It occurs to me from the outset that even though your task is multifaceted to include inter-alia Electoral Reforms; Forensic Examination/Investigation of the entire processes leading up to the June 2023 multi-tiered elections; Validation of the Results to determine the correct winner/results therefrom,  and Accountability against all those who by acts of commission or omission obstructed the smooth democratic conduct of those elections, the recommendations from the IGR would appear to have been narrowly restricted or focused on just one aspect to wit: “Electoral Reforms”. And in elaborating on the five pillars supporting their recommendations, the IGR craftily couched into those submissions the concept of “Inclusivity”. Hence their caption: “Recommendations for Electoral Reforms and Inclusive Governance”.

Co-Chairs and Members of the Tripartite Committee, I need not remind you that in the same way that  an “Elections Re-run” or Fresh Elections” are not in your Terms of Reference (ToR), so too it is that at no point in time was any reference to “Inclusive Governance” embedded therein. So I consider it insidious or even with an ulterior motive for the IGR to have insinuated about or recommended anything towards “Inclusive Governance” at this point in time. I suspect the only reason why they could have pre-empted that was because they full well know that from within the workings of your Committee, the SLPP is emerging as the weakest link. So in the best of their visions, their preference to prioritize Electoral Reforms and Inclusivity is because they are still seeing Julius Maada Bio at the helm of a government in their imaginary “Inclusive Governance” architecture, which we all know is anathema. It shouldn’t take knowledge in rocket science to deduce that and I hope you are savvy enough to see through that as well.

How I wished the IGR had devoted much more resources and sincerity in guiding President Bio throughout his presidency on the political straight and narrow, by regularly drawing his attention for rigid adherences to the rule of law and constitutionality, instead of churning out fictitious survey statistics and reports as they were wont to that have now lured him into dark alleys and ultimately only goaded the poor man into such high levels of unprecedented unpopularity that has constrained the ECSL Commissioner Mohammed Konneh from divulging the correct disaggregated results up to a year to the anniversary of those elections. Unlike hitherto, and as you may no doubt be aware of, virtually all Rights Based Groups would appear to have become so tethered to the “Executive” that instead of guiding the Presidency, they are publicly seeking employment from him. In the event their credo and mantra have since become: “Silence is Golden.

Like I have said many times before Co-Chairs and Members of the Tripartite Committee our extant Constitutional and Electoral lawws are not lax. And they have gone through several repeals, amendments and codifications as to make them robust. What really is lacking is a failure to equally robustly apply them when breached. So I do not see the need for more Electoral Reforms in an environment of lawlessness. For example, didn’t we have laws in our books when Ten (10) APC Parliamentarians were extra-judicially removed and replaced by the SLPP Parliamentarians and also when the Proportional Representation and Mid-Term Census were introduced perforce, even when the former Hon. Speaker of Parliament Dr. Abass Bundu remonstrated against both particularly PR  which he described as treasonable” ?  Do we not also have laws that compels the security sector to be more loyal to the Constitution than to individuals? Or even laws that should guarantee individual freedoms to belong to political parties of choice and for those political parties to campaign and canvass their supporters without hindrance or restrictions to particular locality or regions?

What more laws could the IGR be contemplating that could guarantee a much free and secured operating environment for the oppositions than we already have?  As a matter of fact to all Sierra Leonean politicians laws are meant to be broken, as long as it is their party in power. That is why at every opportunity their covert supporters would scream for reforms, as if merely repealing and reforming laws is as good as applying them, because they full well know that with their party in power even those reformed laws will not be observed or applied.

Co-Chairs and Members, I am all for an “Inclusive Governance Architecture” provided our existing political climate can accommodate it, which is hardly the case now. For the IGR to have referenced “Inclusivity” must have been in inadvertence, unless of course they have forgotten that it was the President himself who insinuated some four years ago that he would not work with those in the APC because they do not share anything in common. So without the IGR advancing recommendations for confidence building and assuaging the high levels of distrusts and hatred sown and as had been festering between the two main political antagonists since April 2018 that has left us irretrievably disunited along tribal and political lines as a nation, on what basis is the IGR contemplating this “Inclusive  Governance” architecture?

As a matter of fact who should share power and with whom? This question speaks to a glaring omission in the letter under reference from the IGR to wit: “Accountability”. To concede to anything about power sharing or inclusive government without evidence or basis of the “disaggregated results” for the entire June 2023 elections is to condone impunity for brazen electoral fraud, and that will mean pale cold cowardice. If elections are conducted, results must be produced. No two ways about that!! Otherwise fresh elections should be conducted. It cannot be trite law for a villain to benefit from his own wrongs – whether or not he committed the wrong or was misled into committing it is unimportant. As lawyers would put it in Latin: “Ex turpi causa non oritur actio”

The correct thing must be done and the correct winners of the Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Council races ascertained and announced, otherwise going forward there will be no need for future elections in this country, neither will there be any need for Independent Electoral Observers in the whole of Africa, especially if they are coming from the National Elections Watch, Carter Center, the African Union, ECOWAS States, United States, the EU Nations etc.etc… At present the whole country is in shreds and in urgent need for a political renaissance or rebirth.   As US politician Trent Leisy running under the Republican ticket for Congress in Colorado aptly puts it: “Ignoring evidences of voter (elections) frauds because the elections are already over is like ignoring evidences of a murder because the victim is already dead”.

So in giving due consideration to the submissions of the IGR for “Electoral Reforms and Inclusivity” for which I am obliged to thank them, I sincerely hope the same level of consideration will be given to your arriving at cogent recommendation that will address accountability for all fraudulent acts whether by commission or omission of all those involved in or connected with obstructing democracy in ways that have led this nation into the unprecedented political impasse we now find ourselves. And in doing so I hope you will not disappoint us by restricting culprits to named institutions only, but that named individuals will be made to account for their shameful misdeeds.

I trust you will find my above scanty submissions useful and will be happy to meet you with you to discuss them amply. I also wish for God’s sublime directions in your deliberations so that the recommendations you make will be in the best interest of the majority of Sierra Leoneans

Yours sincerely,

Winstanley. R. Bankole Johnson.


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