Has the government of Sierra Leone lost its sense of purpose?

14 August 2012

When a government finds itself in such desperate political situation, as to tell its citizens living abroad that their homeland is foreign to them – simply because they exercise their right to criticise the government, then you know that it is time for them to quit office.

And moreover, when an elected government that is supposedly managing the affairs of one of the poorest nations in the world, could find time and space to embroil in idle public chatter, then you know they have lost their sense of purpose.

Time and again, we are reminded about the historical origin of and conditions that led to the war in Sierra Leone – the stifling and curtailing of civil liberties, which many believe to have been one of the most catastrophic human engineered disasters to have happened in  global contemporary history.

And the government of president Koroma is not only tempting fate, but is busy re-engineering  those very social, political and economic conditions once again.

General and presidential elections are weeks away, and already there is growing political frenzy and schizophrenia, developing in the corridors and boardroom of State House in Freetown.

The government is now resorting to issuing threats and warnings to its political opponents.

In a press release issued yesterday, responding to political discussions taking place on a worldwide web public forum among citizens of Sierra Leone living abroad, the government went as far as to say that; Sierra Leone as “a foreign sovereign nation, its leaders and people” is under attack.

The government is now calling on the country’s Political Parties Registration Commission to act; presumably to purge or expel the country’s main opposition party – the Sierra Leone Peoples Party from contesting the forthcoming elections.

Just weeks ago, a major political row broke up in the country, when the Chairman of the National Electoral Commission – Ms. Christiana Thorpe, unilaterally and unlawfully decided to increase the nomination fees for the coming elections, by as much as a thousand percent.

That faulty decision, many in Sierra Leone believe to have been politically induced by senior cabinet members of the government – including the president.

The purpose of such a cynical move, they say is to make it impossible for cash strapped opposition political parties to field candidates for the presidential, parliamentary and local elections, taking place next November.          

But it is now understood that the president is once again leaning on the Electoral Commissioner to rescind her decision, and instead to take her proposal for an increase in elections nomination fees to parliament for discussion.

Critics say that with the government’s overall majority in parliament, this is just a delaying strategy and an administrative manoeuvre to get parliament’s ratification, as an afterthought.

The Electoral Commissioner herself has in the last couple of months received a massive pay rise from the president, which critics regard as a pay-off in line with the president’s cash for votes policy.

And two weeks ago, the government used its majority to pass a new law in parliament, without any prior consultation with the public and civil society groups, empowering private citizens to carry and use guns.

It is believed that this legislation will give senior members of the ruling APC party and ministers, the carte blanche to arm themselves with government issued pistols, during the elections in November.        

But this latest political row, sparked by discussions taking place on an academic internet chat forum, is regarded by the opposition political parties as another step too far, in the government’s drive to cower and muzzle its opponents.

Published below are the government’s letter of complaint to the country’s Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC), and the contents of email correspondence by members of the opposition SLPP, which have attracted the ire and wrath of the government:

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10th August 2012

REF: MPPAD10/08/12-01

OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT

GOVERNMENT OF SIERRA LEONE

MINISTRY OF POLITICAL AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS 

9th Floor, Youyi Building, Brookfields, Freetown, Sierra Leone 

The Chairman

Political Parties Registration Commission

Tower Hill, Freetown

Dear Sir: 

A LETTER OF COMPLAINT AGAINST THE SIERRA LEONE PEOPLE’S PARTY (SLPP) FOR THE USE OF FOREIGN DONATION / CONTRIBUTION IN CONTRAVENTION OF CHAPTER IV SECTION 19 (1) OF THE NATIONAL ELECTORAL ACT

On 20th July 2012, the Hon. Vice President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Chief Sam Sumana and by extension, the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone H.E. Ernest Bai Koroma, the Government and people of Sierra Leone became TARGETS OF A DIATRIBE, published on The New People, an SLPP online publication, entitled “Two Peas in a Pod, Ernest and Sam Sumana”.

The foregoing diatribe was carefully orchestrated and executed by SLPP in Sierra Leone and SLPP North America (SLPP-NA) aided by a foreign Information Communications Technologies (ICTs) outfit; specifically by Texas A&M University (TAMU) LISTSERV at LISTSERVE.TAMU.EDU.

Evidently, TAMU LISTSERV was utilized to create a sub listserv, SLPPNA@LISTSERV.TAMU.EDU, which is different from Leonenet@LISTSERV.TAMU.EDU by one Dr. PK Muana, who is said to be an Associate Professor of TAMU.

The latter is a scholarly/social forum where Sierra Leoneans worldwide interact, express and exchange views and ideas etc., whereas the former has been surreptitiously created, locked in the shadow of the latter, purposely to serve as a vehicle to aid an opposition to discuss, plan and execute the diatribe herein against a foreign sovereign nation, its leaders and people.

Let it be known that The Government and people of Sierra Leone take great exception to such undue direct or indirect utilization of Information Technologies (ITs) of a foreign university of a foreign country by the SLPP to aid their stratagems of orchestrating negative, politically motivated propaganda materials that are replete with baseless and unfounded allegations, falsehoods and malicious content from malcontent conspirators with the intention to diminish our laudable development progress, our rebranding efforts, our good governance initiatives, as well as to degrade the unblemished reputation of our President, and above all to create an unleveled playing field tilted towards the course of the opposition in Sierra Leone.

Licked E-mail exchanges on Tuesday, 24th July 2012 between SLPP in Sierra Leone and SLPP-NA clearly show that the SLPP indeed utilized TAMU scholarly/social forum to orchestrate stratagems to lie and to bring the leadership of Sierra Leone in disrepute.

Mr. John Oponjo Benjamin, the Chairman of SLPP, Mr. Sulaiman Banja Tejan-Sie, the Secretary General of SLPP and Mr. Sheku Kallon and Dr. PK Muana both of SLPP-NA amongst many others have all logged into TAMU LISTSERV, one time or the other, for the purpose of conspiracy to fabricate lies and to use malcontent and disgruntled foreign business operatives to tarnish the good reputation of our country, leaders as well as to interfere with our elections process. 

Mr. Benjamin wrote to SLPPNA@LISTSERV.TAMU.EDU, “From: Sierra Leone People’s Party in North America [mail to: SLPPNA@LISTSERV.TAMU.EDU] On Behalf Of a Sent: Tuesday, July 24, 2012 4:23 PM

To: SLPPNA@LISTSERV.TAMU.EDU. Subject: Fwd: [Leonenet] Mark Heiligman’s Sanity and Business Activities at a Glance. ‘As APC goes on the offensive, Sheku needs some help. Abubakarr is trying, and keep trying Abdulai.’” To which Mr. Kallon to SLPPNA@LISTSERV.TAMU.EDU as follows:

 “On 25 Jul 2012, at 00:07, Sheku M Kallon Jnr skallon@COMCAST.NET wrote: ‘I’ll respond very late tonight or right before starting the work day tomorrow with a follow up amidst threads of email exchanges and phone exchanges I had with Mark Milligan, Sam Susana’s latest attempt to get away with this by calling a lawyer friend of his to make a character vow on his behalf and more. Trust me on this one Chairman, these guys have been busted and even the APC official line is to distant themselves from Sumana and I heard Sumana is threatening to spill more beans if they fire him. Dombolo don for don nah APC. You choose this you lose, you choose that you lose is the only option left for the APC. Checkmate and there is more coming. Ah lie PK?’” 

“And Mr. Banja Tejan-Sie wrote: NOW, SLPP SECRETARY GENERAL SULIMAN BANJA TEJAN-SIE ENTERS AND READ WHAT HE REQUESTS

 From: Sierra Leone People’s Party in North America [mailto:SLPPNA@LISTSERV.TAMU.EDU] On Behalf Of Sulaiman Banja Tejan-Sie. Sent: Wednesday, ‘July 25, 2012 2:08 AM.

To: SLPPNA@LISTSERV.TAMU.EDU. Subject: Re: [Leonenet] Mark Heiligman’s Sanity and Business Activities at a Glance. Sheku please send me the name of the Lawyer friend of Sam Sumana as he has scheduled a Press Conference for 11.00 AM this morning in a last ditch attempt to exonerate himself’”.

Above, is an excerpt of clearly established pattern of how the SLPP is knowingly utilizing TAMU forum to contravene the electoral laws of Sierra Leone probably unbeknown to TAMU, in which case, the SLPP stands to be accused of stealing LISTSERV from TAMU through Dr. PK Muana.

Dr. PK Muana was on Saturday, the 4th of August 2012 on a late-night talk show; “Monologue” hosted by Mr. Tam Mbayo, spewing libellous diatribe content of his discussions with SLPP Sierra Leone operatives on TAMU LISTSERV against our leaders from the comfort of his Apartment in the USA.

Specifically, by the use of TAMU LISTSERV, the SLPP is in violation of Chapter IV, Section 19 (1) of the Political Parties Act which states that: The source of funds of a political party shall be limited to contributions or donations, whether in cash or in kind, of persons who are entitled to be registered as voters in Sierra Leone. Both Dr. PK Muana and TAMU, an individual and an entity respectively, who/that are herein contributors or donors in kind to SLPP, are not or cannot be registered voters or voters in Sierra Leone.

Based on facts herein and that the creation and hosting of a listserv is very expensive, be it known that the SLPP is utilizing a foreign communications outfit, thus a recipient of donation/contribution from non-registered to vote person/entity for electioneering purpose. In view of the foregoing, we trust that due diligence and unfettered attention will be implored in looking into our complaint.

Yours faithfully,

Signed: Karamoh Kabba

Director of Political and Public Affairs

For the Minister of Political and Public Affairs

Cc:

  1. The Independent Media Commission (IMC)
  2. National Electoral Commission (NEC)
  3. The Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP)
  4. The All Peoples Congress (APC)
  5. The United Democratic Movement (UDM)
  6. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA)
  7. The People’s Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC)
  8. Revolutionary United Front Party (RUFP)
  9. People’s Democratic Party (PDP)
  10. The Texas A&M University (TAMU)
  11. The United Nations Integrated Peace-Building in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL)
  12. The Embassy of the United States Of America
  13. The High Commission, United Kingdom
  14. The European Union
  15. The Fourth Estate

END OF GOVERNMENT’S COMPLAINT TO THE PPRC

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Sierra Leone Telegraph Editor’s Note:

Democracy in Sierra Leone is still very fragile, after it was suspended over thirty years ago by an APC government as well as ten years of civil war.

Since 2001, costly efforts and massive investments have been expended by the international community to return Sierra Leone once again to a democracy. But all of that is continuously being threatened by politicians, caught up in the belief that the seat of power is theirs to keep for a lifetime.

Once again, it is stupefyingly clearly and regrettably obvious that a responsible elected government could find time to embroil itself in such petty and destabilising behaviour, simply trying to wreck any chance of the country’s main opposition political party seriously taking on the ruling APC at the pools in November 2012.

Sierra Leone is one of the poorest countries in the world, despite the abundance of vast mineral wealth. Poverty is widespread and growing, with average income per capita not exceeding $1 a day.

There are 80 young children dying everyday for lack of proper and adequate health care. Corruption in high places is one of the highest in the world.

Yet government could find time to embroil itself in petty political squabbles.

And indeed, when a government finds itself in such desperate political situation, as to tell its citizens living abroad that their homeland is foreign to them – simply because they exercise their civil liberty and right to criticise the government, then you know that it is time for them to quit office.

    

 

 

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