Sierra Leone Telegraph: 30 September 2018:
Yesterday’s cancellation of by-election polling in ward 196 of the Kambia District in northern Sierra Leone, after violence erupted which led to the death of a young man, has been criticised by the opposition APC party.
Writing in a public statement issued today, this is what the APC party’s secretary general Osman Yansaneh said:
The All Peoples Congress is in receipt of the above referenced public notice with respect to the cancellation of the Local Council By-Election in Ward 196, Kambia District, dated on 29th of September 2018.
The All Peoples Congress hereby categorically condemns all forms of violence, intimidation and police heavy-handedness against unarmed civilians in the election that led to the alleged shooting and killing of a 14 year old minor; the shooting and wounding of an unarmed woman and the burning and looting of at least one house, all in Masunthu town in the Thonko Limba Chiefdom.
The Party wishes to inform the general public that we are in total disagreement with the decision of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to cancel the said election and we will challenge the Commission in the court of law for the following reason:
In the same letter signed by the Commissioner, the Commission referenced Section 39(1) of the 1991 Constitution: “When the seat of any Member of Parliament becomes vacant, the vacancy shall be filled by election, not later than six months after the vacancy occurs, in accordance with the provisions of law relating to such election.”
The Commission also referenced Section 69(1) and Section 70(1) of the Public Elections Act 2012: Section 69(1). “In conducting an election under this Act, the Chairman of the Electoral Commission shall be the National Returning Officer.” And Section 70(1) “The Electoral Commission shall be responsible for the conduct of elections under this Act and shall make arrangements for the casting of ballots by voters.”
So far with respect to the above, we found no Section of the Constitution and or of the Act that vest such powers in the Commission to cancel an entire election process based on a flimsy reason or any reason, which has not been contested by any of the contestants in the said election.
The All Peoples Congress hereby also wish to draw the Commissioner’s attention to the powers vested in the Commission to cancel an election: No. 4 The Public Elections Act 2012 147. “Where on an election petition or in a prosecution for an election offence under this Act, it is shown that the offence committed in reference to the election for the purpose of promoting or procuring the election of a person has so extensively prevailed that it may be reasonably supposed to have affected the result, his election, if he has been elected shall be declared void by the court in addition to any other penalty that may be imposed by the court.”
The Party is aware of the powers vested in the Commission to cancel specific polling station(s) which conduct(s) deemed the necessity for such action but not the entire process especially that the said cancellation as in Ward 196 Bye Election did not influence the outcome of the election.
In view of the above and for peace and national cohesion, the APC Party remains convinced that its candidate Alusine Kamara is the winner of the said Local Council Bye Election and will duly inform local stakeholders and members of the international community, as brokers of peace.
The leadership of the APC will further seek to engage H.E. President (RTD) Brigadier Julius Maada Bio and the leadership of the SLPP to discuss the blatant disregard of the 1991 Constitution and the Public Elections Act 2012 by NEC.
Signed: AMB DR ALHAJI OSMAN F YANSANEH – NATIONAL SECRETARY GENERAL, APC
The APC press release focuses only on the action of NEC to cancel the just election and not on the violence that marred the whole process. For a political party to not concern it about the loss of life in its stronghold cast so much doubt about their sincerity.
It is a clear fact that Tonko Limba is an APC strong hold. The SLPP has nothing to gain to fight for a counsellor in an area that they will normally not win.
On the other hand, it will be dent on the APC if they lose an election in an area considered their stronghold. APC politicians that went to Tonko for this election were desperate. Surprisingly, many of them are not from that area. From critical analysis, desperation can lead to anything including resorting to fomenting violence or chaotic behaviour.
I will not be surprise therefore that if a credible investigation is done in this matter, the blame will fall at the door step of the APC. The fact that the APC Secretary General did not mention anything about the violence as the reason why NEC cancelled the election is another indication that all the APC wanted was win at all cost and win they have.
It is very astonishing and indeed very sad that in your report and that of the APC statement, there is no explanation about the circumstances under which this young man was killed. Here again my appeal to all Sierra Leoneans:
All political parties, judiciary, civic societies, religious groups, Ministries of internal affairs and education must come to a round table conference to solve this problem of political violence once and for all. Advocating ethnic violence and tribalism should be booked as a crime in our criminal system.
Any politician caught propagating violence is to be banned for life from politics and from government jobs; the immediate suspension from work and the loss of his or her hard worked pension. We have to do something about this CANCER in our political system.
May the soul of this young man Rest In Peace!