Sierra Leone Telegraph: 21 March 2018:
After weeks of agonising wait by members and supporters of the opposition National Grand Coalition (NGC) party, regarding the announcement of the party leadership’s position on next week’s election runoff, the suspense is over.
Its official – Yumkella and his NGC party will not be supporting any of the two parties contesting the runoff next Tuesday, according to a statement signed by the NGC campaign spokesman – Dr. Julius Spencer.
Critics say that this decision will boost the chances of the ruling APC winning the runoff election, as the majority of the NGC supporters and voters are in the ruling APC’s northern heartland.
Political analysts believe that the ruling APC may now see its way clear to withdraw its Supreme Court case against Yumkella. The hearing is supposed to continue a day after the runoff election – 28 March 2018.
So why has the NGC decided to remain neutral? This is what Dr Julius Spencer says in his statement this afternoon:
The National Grand Coalition Party received its final certificate authorising it to operate as a political party in October 2017 and contested the March 7, 2018 elections at all levels.
Despite its brief existence and the preponderance of irregularities directed at our party before and during the elections, the party (according to official figures released by the National Electoral Commission) emerged as the third force in the presidential election and won parliamentary and local council seats.
The leadership of the party wishes to thank all the members, supporters and sympathisers of the party all over the world who, through their hard work, made this achievement possible. We also wish to thank all those who had enough confidence in us to vote for our candidates.
We assure you that your confidence was not misplaced and that over the coming months and years we shall prove to be worthy of your trust.
The NGC entered the political agenda in Sierra Leone because its founding members believe a different Sierra Leone is possible and with the right leadership, the destiny of our beloved country can be changed and set on a path to prosperity.
We therefore intend to continue the struggle to achieve fundamental change in the Sierra Leone body politic in order to drastically improve the lives of all Sierra Leoneans.
When a government wins power through free, fair, and credible elections, it enjoys the legitimacy and support of all citizens, even those who did not vote for it, thus contributing to peace and stability, and creating a strong foundation for democratic development.
However, due to the alarming evidence of irregularities uncovered by the NGC and confirmed by other political parties, our party has instructed its legal team to advise on the best course of action to take.
It is noteworthy that the leadership of the NGC, since the 9th of March had sent at least three letters to the NEC detailing its concerns and requesting recounts.
In addition, we at NGC randomly analysed 24.5% (2,728) of the 11,130 Result Reconciliation Forms (RRF) nationwide. Here is a summary of what we found:
- Of the 2,728 (24.5%) RRFs analysed, 813 possible irregularities and malpractices were identified including over-voting, miscalculation, missing signatures, unstamped forms, altered forms and wrong numbering of constituencies;
- The results of 616 polling stations (of the 25% analysed) were in effect compromised by possible election malpractices.
Despite our grave misgivings about the electoral process thus far that has resulted in a planned presidential run-off between SLPP and APC on March 27, 2018 and current legal challenges to the electoral process, the party embarked on widespread consultations with its members across the country with a view to taking a position on the runoff.
The message from the overwhelming majority of NGC members and supporters is clear: NGC should not endorse either APC or SLPP or enter into a coalition arrangement with either party. Rather, the NGC should concentrate on providing an effective opposition on behalf of the people of Sierra Leone. The leadership of the NGC endorses this position.
In the light of the above, the leadership of the NGC urges all its members and supporters to put Sierra Leone first in making their own individual decisions.
The NGC notes the increasing emergence of tribalism in the politics of the country and urges all Sierra Leoneans, particularly the leadership of the APC and SLPP to make all efforts to bring this to an end because it bodes ill for national cohesion and is leading our nation on a path to self-destruction.
In conclusion, the NGC would like to assure all Sierra Leoneans that as a political party, we are here to stay, and it intends to be a robust opposition in and out of Parliament. We will hold the government to account for its actions or inactions and will champion the cause of ordinary people.
This is in line with our vision to create a free, fair and just society. We firmly believe real change is possible and we intend to be the driving force behind that change. United we stand! We stand united!