Sierra Leone Telegraph: 13 November 2021:
Today Saturday 13th November 2021, the people of Ward 091 in the Sandor Chiefdom of Kono district go to the polls, in a hotly contested bye-election between the ruling SLPP, the main opposition APC and the C4C party that dominates local politics in Kono district.
Bigwigs of the three parties have been in the district canvassing for their parties, including the ruling SLPP minister of Local Government – Mr Tamba Lamina whose brother – the Former Mayor of Koidu Mr Saa Emmerson Lamina who in 2018 resigned from the then ruling APC party to contest general election for a constituency seat representing the Coalition for Change Party (C4C) in Parliament.
Former Minister of Local Government – Diana Konomanyi (Photo below with former president Koromna) and former transport minister Logus Koroma, led the main opposition APC campaign in their bid to win today’s bye-election in Kono.
But if the bye-election held last month in Ward 155 of Koinadugu is anything to go by, there will be claims and counter claims of electoral fraud when the results of today’s bye-election in Kono are announced.
Since the announcement of the Koinadugu bye-election results a few weeks ago, the main opposition APC has refused to accept those results. Yesterday the party published the following statement:
“We wish to inform the public and the international community that we reject the decision of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to endorse the recommendation of the Investigation Committee to uphold the 05 October 2021 certified results of NEC for Ward 155 following the bye elections held in Koinadugu on 02 October 2021. This was disclosed today 11th November 2021 by the Chairman and National Returning Officer of NEC at a meeting held with the Secretaries General of the APC and the SLPP.
“The public will recall that NEC had commissioned an investigation committee to look into the electoral fraud committed by its staff during the tallying of bye elections results of Councillor for Ward 155 and Chairman for the Koinadugu District Council.
“There was clear evidence according to the Results Reconciliation Form (RRF) that the NEC staff fraudulently allotted 100 votes to the Ward 155 candidate of the SLPP by changing the figure 049 to 149. However in his presentation to the two parties the Regional NEC Commissioner South Mr Alpha told us that at the Wellington tallying Centre they had 083 for APC and 1049 for SLPP. He said they did not know who added the number “1”.
“What could be more revealing than this. Someone had added four digits (1049) in the RRF which has a provision for only three digits (049). On the other hand, Mr Alpha attempted to put a DEFENCE for the SLPP’s complaint of violence and the recruitment of APC members as NEC officials to preside over the elections in Ward 155. It is NEC that does the recruitment and not the APC. Mr Alpha further made a futile attempt to help the SLPP when he said that there were RRFs that had been tipexed but that the 101 extra votes that were discovered in RRFs at a Polling Station in the District Council Chairman election had been invalidated.
“This was a convoluted explanation which Commissioner Alpha found difficult to sell. He however accepted the fraudulent behavior of NEC senior officer, Paul Damba who was replaced. But the meeting was not told what action had been taken against the fraudster.
“The APC without delay had petitioned the results on 05 October 2021, and demanded that the matter be looked into by NEC before the results are announced. However, disregarding our petition and acting contrary to due process, the Chairman of NEC appointed a team to investigate the matter only after he had certified and announced the results in favour of the SLPP.
“We wish to note that the APC was not invited by the investigation team during its deliberations to hear us out but that it went ahead to affirm the results as certified and announced by the NEC Chairman. In addition, NEC has failed to gazette the bye elections results for more than a month, which would allow us to file a petition in the court of law.
“The APC also wishes to draw attention to ongoing institutional collusion among government agencies on the Koinadugu bye elections. First, is the failure of NEC to follow up with the Government Printers to gazette the certified results, which it had allegedly forwarded to the same since 06 October 2021.
“Worse still, neither NEC nor the Printers have taken steps even after our legal team had officially notified the Chairman of NEC to gazette the results through an official letter dated 25th October 2021. Second, the recommendation of the Investigation Committee for NEC to uphold its result was only made known to us on 11th November 2021, after the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development had gone ahead to administer the oath of office to the legitimate Chairman elect and the illegitimate Councillor, on Tuesday 09 November 2021.
“We wish to restate our vehement rejection of the recommendation of the Investigation Committee and express our regret at the failure of NEC to ensure the gazetting of the bye elections results to date. The invitation for us to come to NEC was an exercise in futility as they had already made up their minds to give us this “fait accompli”.
“Signed: Amb. Dr. Alhaji Osman Foday Yansaneh, National Secretary General – APC.”