Tripartite Committee: Will its outcome be welcomed by APC and SLPP?

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By Ishmael Dumbuya and Alhaji Haruna Sani

When the Tripartite Committee was inaugurated in October 2023, there was a wave of hope across Sierra Leone. People believed that the committee, with its mandate to address allegations of election malpractices, could promote democracy and accountability. For many Sierra Leoneans, the committee’s recommendations represent a critical turning point, potentially determining the future stability of the country.

After the 2023 elections, the opposition All People’s Congress (APC), along with members of the international community and election observer groups such as the National Election’s Watch (NEW), claimed that the elections were manipulated and called for a second round. However, the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) rejected these claims, insisting that the elections were free, fair, and credible. To address these conflicting perspectives, the Tripartite Committee was established to investigate the allegations raised by the opposition and observers.

The mandate of the committee, according to a communiqué signed by both the SLPP and APC in October of the previous year, was to investigate the issues raised and complete its probe within six months. Initially, many Sierra Leoneans, especially APC supporters, were optimistic that the committee’s findings might support calls for fresh elections. However, as the investigation progressed, it became clear that the committee would not recommend a re-run but would instead focus on making broader recommendations for electoral reforms.

This realization has caused significant anxiety among citizens, particularly those who supported the APC. Many Sierra Leoneans, burdened by economic hardships under the SLPP administration since 2018, saw the elections as a vital opportunity to express their dissatisfaction and demand change. The committee’s anticipated recommendations, while aimed at improving electoral integrity, are unlikely to call for new elections, thus heightening public apprehension about the committee’s final outcomes.

Critics within the APC question the feasibility of the SLPP-led government implementing new electoral laws and rules, given its alleged violations during the last election. They find it paradoxical that a government accused of electoral misconduct would be tasked with enforcing reforms aimed at ensuring fairness in future elections.

Conversely, the SLPP views the Tripartite Committee as a potential instrument for fostering national peace and unity. The ruling party dismisses speculation about a possible re-run, steadfastly asserting that the 2023 elections were fair and credible. The SLPP believes that the committee’s work could bridge political divides and promote reconciliation among Sierra Leoneans.

Regardless of the committee’s final recommendations, they are expected to significantly influence Sierra Leone’s political landscape. The recommendations, likely focusing on electoral reforms, will not satisfy all parties equally. However, there is hope that these recommendations will promote unity and peace, guiding the nation toward a more stable and democratic future.

Ultimately, the true impact of the committee’s work will be judged by posterity. The recommendations are poised to shape the political narratives in Sierra Leone for years to come. While the committee’s findings may not fully appease either the APC or the SLPP, the ultimate goal is to foster a more cohesive and peaceful society.

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