APC was right in its political decision not to go to court over 2023 elections outcome – Op ed

Sylvanus Koroma: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 28 February 2024:

The APC decision not to go to court following the June 2023 elections to seek redress is statute-based. Sections 93 paragraph (a), and 52 paragraph (b) of the Public Elections Act, 2022 (PEA, 2022) are very instructive in terms of time with the use of the “as soon as possible” which must therefore provide the evidence-base for the qualified person(s) to the ‘Challenge of election of President’ as provided for in Section 54 subsection (1) of the Act.

Without the publication of the Elections results by the Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone (ECSL), section 54 subsection (1) is rendered useless because the said challenge has to be based on the published results in accordance with sections 93 paragraph (a) and 53 paragraph (b) of the PEA, 2022.

Section 52 paragraph (b) states: “The National Returning Officer shall, after declaring the result of a presidential election – (b) as soon as possible, cause the result of the election to be published by notice in the Gazette and in any other manner that he may think fit.”

Furthermore, section 93 of the Act provides the same emphasis on publishing the election results, and thus states: “As soon as may be after the National Returning Officer has declared the result of the election or elections under subsection (4) of section 93, the Electoral Commission shall publish the results so declared in the case of an election of –

(a) Presidential, in the manner prescribed in section 52; and

(b) Members of Parliament, by Government Notice and any other manner as he may think fit.”

Note that, pursuant to section 55 (1) of the Public Elections Act, 2012, (which reads almost the same as section 54 subsection (1) of the PEA, 2022) the Petition of Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden as SC6/2018 and that of Dr. Samura Mathew Wilson Kamara, Minkailu Mansaray and Ambassador Dr. Foday Yansaneh as SC7/2018 now consolidated as SC Cases 6 and 7 of 2018 were struck out because they were unable to provide any evidence for their case.

The evidence must be based on the results published which the ECSL is yet to do and the failure of ECSL to publish its results is a violation to the very Act it helped to create.

When the ECSL would have published the results by notice in the Gazette and in any other manner that the National Returning Officer (Chief Electoral Commissioner and in this instance Mohamed Konneh) thinks fit, then, that published results would be used in evidence to challenge the results.

Until that is done Mohamed Konneh would not face the possible charges for improper practices by electoral officers pursuant to section 119 of the PEA, 2022. This provides that ‘An electoral officer performing a duty under this Act or any other enactment who does any of the offences or who commits an offence listed from its paragraph (a) to (q) and is liable on conviction to a fine of not less than 20,000 Leones or to imprisonment for a term of 5 years or to both the fine and imprisonment.’

In short, there are certain things that we believe the Tripartite Committee would do in due course.


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