Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 July 2023:
President Dr Julius Maada Bio was yesterday awarded a clean bill of health by the Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone (ECSL) – Mr Mohamed Konneh, following his controversial declaration last month of President Bio as the winner of the presidential election held on 24th June 2023.
According to a press statement from State House, Commissioner Konneh described the June 24 elections as “peaceful and credible,” and that “the results were reflective of the expressions of Sierra Leoneans who voted.”
But the election results have not been accepted by the main opposition APC party, independent observers, nor the international community working in the country. The opposition APC is accusing the ECSL of rigging the elections in favour of Bio, .
Presenting President Bio with his Presidential Election Certificate, Commissioner Konneh said: “His Excellency, the hard work and diligent planning in 2022 resulted in peaceful elections and the Commission is satisfied that the result is reflective of the votes of Sierra Leoneans. With pride and honour, all the Commissioners are hereby presenting you with the Certificate of Presidential Election.”
Mr. Konneh also presented the Commission’s 2022 Annual Report to the President, saying, “On behalf of ECSL, I want to take this opportunity to congratulate you, His Excellency, for your re-election as President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, in the just concluded 24 June 2023 multi-tier elections”.
He said the presentation of the annual report is in fulfillment of ECSL’s duty under the law and according to the 1991 Constitution, which provides for the ECSL to submit a report on its programmes and work at least once a year to the President, a copy of which will be laid before parliament.
“The year 2022 ended on a very sound footing and laid the foundation for the positive outcome of the June 24, 2023, multi-tier elections. The report highlights key milestones on achievements made by the commission, including the conduct of elections for Paramount Chiefs, the operationalisation of policy decisions into actions in line with the Commission’s strategic plan that led to the announcement of the election date, legal reform, and voter registration.
“His Excellency, as a Commission we want to thank you and your government for funding the elections. We are grateful to ECOWAS, political parties, and our partners for their collaboration in the conduct of successful and peaceful multi-tier elections,” Konneh said.
In response, President Bio said he is delighted to receive the 2022 Annual Report of the ECSL and the Certificate of Presidential Election, which, according to him, are part of the Commission’s mandate with clear content on activities undertaken by the Commission in the period under review.
“I want to thank you, the Chairman and National Returning Officer, and other Commissioners and staff of the Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone, for the work that you undertook in the 2023 multi-tier elections.
“You have done a great job executing your mandate. It is, above all, free and fair and the results of the June 24 elections speak for themselves. I am calling on you and other members to continue to work very hard. I thank you for delivering credible elections and I am proud that I won the election,” the President said.
President Julius Maada Bio used the occasion to appeal to all Sierra Leoneans to accept the fact that democracy is a process, adding that elections have come and gone. He said the ECSL, as an institution, is not new to what happened before, during and after the elections because it has been conducting elections since the end of the war.