PERSONAL GLIMPSES: SAFEGUARING OUR DEMOCRACY – APC MUST STAND FIRM

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By: Winstanley. R. Bankole. Johnson

Who would have believed that this soon after publication of the Chef Electoral Commissioner (CEC)  Mohamed Konneh’s much discredited June 24th Presidential elections results, the very SLPP would have become so challenged with the kind of political impasse this country is now experiencing? And it is so dire that it has left even the Political Parties’ Regulations Commission (PPRC) that supervised the electoral processes, the Judiciary that was expecting a flurry of petitions from the APC and an equally expectant Parliament that was awaiting to rubber stamp the entre charade were left chagrined.   

Thunderbolts

In the absence of the much anticipated petitions from the APC, it is the judiciary that would appear to have emerged the most confused, having been robbed of another opportunity to have regularized what is now being dubbed as the greatest electoral fraud by committed by the Electoral Commission Sierra Leone (ECSL) in pronouncing Mr. Bio as re-elected for a second term even whilst – according to all local and international accredited elections observers (the National Elections Watch (NEW), France, Ireland, UK, USA, AU, ECOWAS etc.) the ballots were either still being counted or in transmission to collation centers.

The judiciary were indeed robbed of another opportunity of delivering yet another “Stellar Ruling” (?) that would have simply regularized the brazen fraud suspected to have been perpetrated by the ECSL not necessarily on point of legality or case precedents, but quote unquote: “In the interest of political stability”.

Pundits believe this is not the very first time that the Judiciary had been sidelined by politicians. It first happened in 2018 when President Bio, probably lacking implicit trust in that body head-hunted instead for independent international jurists to come and head the three (3) Commissions of Inquiries (COIs) to look into the past Ernest Bai Koroma administration. They further opined that Judiciary was so disrespected and sidelined then that the three very COI Commissioners overruled various objections by various defense counsels, both on the legality of their status and the absence of the requisite rules to regulate the practices and procedures of those COIs as required in Sec. 150 of the Constitution.

Incidentally the Judiciary could not have been the only State  institution that the APC’s decision not to have appealed the presidential elections results caught napping. The same holds good for the PRC and ECSL. But the most chagrined would appear to be the SLPP MPs and the Rt. Hon. Speaker of Parliament.

I imagine that that decision struck all of them like multiple thunderbolt striking at the same time and on the same spot, with reverberating local and international effects.

Empirical

The APC’s resilience to discountenance the Courts – on clearly empirical grounds – is resonating so well and so far, thanks to Proportional Representation (PR) electoral system introduced perforce, which means included the merciless beatings of APC MPs so that the government could have their say and way, but no thanks as well to those who clandestinely pioneered and ensured its “circumlocutious” implementation.

So where are the schemers and proponents of the PR system – the University Dons, Corporate and Cash and Carry Civil Society Technocrats (including the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists SLAJ)  – that played deaf and dumb because of selfishness, and a commitment to mislead the government on the paths to confusion (and our present stalemate), even as the world and the Speaker of Parliament Dr. Abass Bundu was cautioning all of them to exercise restraints against doggedly pursuing such an unconstitutional option?

Entreaties

Irrespective of the threats embedded in his appeal and his references to deadlines, I would have considered the Speaker’s entreaties genuine if those appeals were directed to the Party’s Secretariat and not directly to individuals. After all technically until and unless they have subscribed to their Oaths as MPs as will be recommended by the Party, they do not fall within his purview or control, nor should the two APC persons that are attending Parliament been allowed to do so.

I am therefore at a loss as to what the Speaker could be missing by the APC’s boycott until the concerns raised by the Party over the credibility, integrity and legitimacy of the elections are addressed. Wasn’t this the same Speaker under whose watch in the 5th Parliament that:

A. The Clerk of Parliament publicly ordered for APC MPs to be manhandled and thrown out of, or were involuntarily vacated from, the House of Parliament by the Police para-military wing of Operational Support Division (OSD) so that proceedings can progress?

B. Ten (10) duly elected APC MPs that were deprived from representing their peoples and replaced by the Courts with nine (9) runner-up SLPP representations without the requisite bye-elections?

C. Parliamentary decisions were ratified “on a motion of voices” instead of by balloting or show of hands when it was clear that the outcomes of those resolutions if balloted for, would not be in favour of the government?

D. APC MPs were occasionally either whisked away or invited to or invited for detentions at the Criminal Investigations Department (CID)?

Questions

So the questions that arise are:

1. What is it that the SLPP (and Speaker) are missing out on by the APC parliamentary boycott, when in fact they (SLPP) have proceeded to approve a Speaker and confirmed Presidential appointees even in their absence?

2. Didn’t the SLPP boast of our sovereignty as an independent nation state with their Chairman Dr. Prince Harding going as far as labelling the entire Western donor community of nations as “Academic Dwarfs”?

3. Could it be that – thanks again to the PR system – by the APC’s non-participation the international community/civilized world would never recognize or deal with a de-facto One Party State government through acceptance of a monolithic parliamentary representation in a country and world where pluralistic parliamentary representation is a democratic “sine qua non”, such as in the Commonwealth, African Union, ECOWAS and African-Caribbean-Pacific organizations to name but a few?

Values

Perhaps what needs clarification at this point is that the APC has no qualms or “beefing” with the SLPP as a Party or directly against its leader President Julius Maada Bio. And that has been stated over and over again. Logically if Bio had not been pronounced as the “Winner” by the CEC as constitutionally mandated, the Hon. Chief Justice Babatunde Edwrads whose constitutional mandate it is also to swear into office whomsoever the CEC declares winner after the elections, Bio would not have been sworn him into office.

Our (APC) gripe therefore (and beefing if you please) is with the CEC, and it will remain so until and unless he produces the disaggregated results pertaining to the entire June 24th multi-tier elections polling station by polling station, as he is by law obligated under Sec. 51 (1) and (2), Sec.52 and Sec. 54 (1) of the Public Elections Act of 2022. Obligated here means he cannot chose to ignore those provisions now, unless of course he has integrity issues bordering on inconsistencies, inaccuracies and irregularities of those same elections results to hide.

And rather interestingly it is on those same issues – producing the disaggregated results – that the APC finds shared values with the galaxy of local International elections observer groups (the National Elections Watch (NEW), France, Ireland, UK, USA, AU, ECOWAS etc.) that have to date refused to recognize and congratulate president Bio, because all of them are equally convinced that his mandate to continue in office as President was stolen.

Goaded

Of the greatest interest to all of us is the glaring “coincidental exactitude” both in the victory thresholds projections by the Institute of Governance Reforms (IGR) for the SLPP in the same week of the Presidential elections, and that of the actual ECSL results announced to wit: (57.1%), just to stave off a run off.

Could it be that Mohammed Konneh was goaded into announcing incomplete results because their imported elections experts had warned the SLPP that going into a run-off would have resulted in a catastrophic defeat of Brig. (Rtd.) General Bio by Dr. Samura Kamara? 

These are the clarifications that will emerge when Mohammed Konneh produces the disaggregated results, failing which I will not expect the APC to budge. And to the extent that President Bio himself has admitted to “logistical challenges” during the conduct of those elections, I am sure he too must be very much interested in the CEC Mohammed Konneh producing those aggregated data without further delays.

Trajectories

As you are well aware Dr. Samura Kamara, once in the affairs of every man and nation comes a moment to decide (James Rusell Lowell). For Sierra Leone – “YOUR COUNTRY: YOUR RESPONSIBILITY” – that moment is now.

For too long our political class have either been deliberately trivializing government and governance issues by wrongly juxtaposing it with a Court Barry mentality, all under the expediency of “moving on”. And we have indeed been “moving on” as if with charlatans on the bridge of what is clearly a rudderless ship. And that has not helped us grow as an independent nation.

We have even moved on to as low as accepting presentation of fake university degree certificates in our House of Parliament to meet eligibility criteria for presidential appointees, and further   lower as even being afraid of chastising those in authority that we very well know have omitted felony. So the time to stop that is now if we are to embark on the right trajectories. 

As President Bio himself (even with all his PhD background in Coup plotting) similarly asserted when exressing his disgust for Coups within the Sub-region at a recent ECOWAS Heads of Sates meeting and quoting him: “The fact that Coups have not been reversed in the past does not mean they should continue…..We have to put a stop to it” – Unquote.

Capitulate

In the same vein the fact that we have been overlooking falsification and distortion of elections results in this country for this long does not mean the chain of deceit should continue ad-infinitum. So to ever make the mistake of capitulating to fake peace and reconciliations overtures by the SLPP without addressing our systemic political wrongs incubated since 1961 or as evident in the just concluded elections robustly, then the blood of all Sierra Leonean lives and properties lost in fratricidal political upheavals to date will be on our collective heads. And I make no apologies for that statement.

Government and governance on an electoral mandate with credibility and integrity issues could lead to serious breakdown of law and order and even to war, because it is as treasonable an offence as military putsches and the perpetrators if found culpable, should be made to pay for it severely by a long jail terms.

So for the APC to capitulate on its demands from our position of strength is to might as well say bye-bye to even the type of crude democracy we have been practicing, because if no re-run is done even if only at the Presidential elections level, then the “Whips” with which we have been chastised by the SLPP since 2018 to date will be replaced with “Scorpions” by 2028. In other words what we as “APCians” suffered during the last 2023 elections with people being openly intimidated and prevented from voting for the APC in the South-East in the very presence of Police Officers who demonstrated more loyalty to the SLPP than to the Constitution and with impunity will be like the “SMOKE” – Dress rehearsals if you please.

To condone these those issues now could only mean that by the next elections, we should expect to see the real “FIRE”, as you can bet that by then some areas will be conspicuously demarcated as bona-fide SLPP Territories within which other parties can only venture to operate at their peril – including on polling day.

Overdrive

As a matter fact one area APC need not even countenance is the proposed 2023 Elections Review and Reforms Committee set up by the President to be headed by the Hon. Vice President Juldeh Jalloh. As a direct beneficiary of the questioned elections outcomes it is a non-starter. And that is not out of disrespect to the President on his authority and function as our Fountain of Honour, but just that if he could have had to look overseas for international jurists to come and conduct Commissions of Inquiries (COIs) on his ascendancy into the past Ernest Bai Koroma administration to ensure independence, integrity and fair play,  then he must equally be prevailed upon to also seek Independent External Elections Investigators, if the APC is expected to make their own submissions thereto.

The very nomenclature of that Committee means the status quo should remain. Besides it is too fresh in our APC minds that cases are still pending in the Courts against APC members on account of clashes with a convoy of this very Vice President, when he mysteriously materialized in the then Constituency No.066 on a dedicated APC Campaign Day that resulted in serious skirmishes. 

“Leaders” or “Revolutionaries” that do not intend to leave legacies are unfit to lead. So we only need to reflect on utterances of the SLPP leadership against the APC since April 2018 to understand the criticality of our situation.

Even as recently as this past July the SLPP Chairman Dr. Prince Harding was on overdrive again that;

– The SLPP would under no circumstances – neither now, nor ever – hand over political power to the APC because their entire APC Party Executives and Party rank and file are mad people

– That they (SLPP) would rather their blood flow throughout the country than contemplate handing over political power to the APC

– That even if they were constrained to ever hand over political power it is President Bio that would have to name his successor

And he flowed on like a loose cannon right in the presence of  President Bio without anyone daring to restrain him, because he was making SLPP policy statements with one avowed unfinished business intent in mind: “To obliterate the APC from the political landscape of this country”.

It is not in SLPP DNA to discuss peace with anyone or anybody that is a threat to their clench of political power, and that was clearly discernible in way and manner they exterminated or decapitated even their own kinsmen and women that had dared to openly manifest support for the APC in the South-East. In their narrow mindsets that constitutes the greatest betrayal, as loyalty to the SLPP Party should subsume loyalty to even the Almighty God and country.

I am heartened by your guarded responses/reactions to the Commonwealth Secretary General Rt. Hon. Patricia Scotland (KC) and the outgoing American Ambassador David Reimer in their quest for peaceful dialogues, that Dr. Samura’s focus has remained anchored in the restoration and safeguarding of our democracy, social justice and national unity, and sincerely hope that his pursuits of each or all of those virtues will be premised on the precondition of the CEC Mohammed Konneh producing those disaggregated results.

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