Sylvanus Fornah Koroma: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 23 August 2023:
Allow me to express my opinion on why the ECSL hastily made the announcement that has been dubbed ‘rigged elections,’ without providing evidence to substantiate the veracity of the announcement. First, credit must be given to the National Elections Watch (NEW) for their bold attempt to avert the impending problem.
In a prior press release, NEW clearly stated that no party had reached the fifty-five percent (55 %) requirement to declare anyone as President in the first ballot, implying that Sierra Leone was destined for a runoff Presidential election.
This press release became a nightmare for the SLPP for several reasons, not limited to the significant ‘wasteful’ expenses, time, and effort they spent strategizing on how to rig the elections in the first ballot without recourse for runoff.
To worsen the situation, the SLPP dreaded the idea of being in absolute control of the state apparatus in the runoff election because they would have exceeded what can be described as their mistaken extra three months (i.e. April 4 to July 4) after the effluxion of time in office of Mr. Julius Maada Bio.
In fact, the latter was the principal reason why ECSL had the gumption to announce and make such troubling results and declaration which so far has proven to have no backup source results to authenticate that announcement and declaration by Konneh.
The term ‘effluxion of time’ is a legal term commonly used to refer to the expiration or elapsing of a specific period. In legal contexts, it’s often used to describe the natural or automatic ending of a legal right, duty, or obligation based on the passage of time as specified in a contract, statute, or legal provision.
For instance, on April 4, 2018, President Bio was declared President of the Republic of Sierra Leone and he took the oath of office that same night. And therefore, his effluxion of time for that Presidency was April 4, 2023. However, practice made room for a President not to vacate the office at the effluxion of time, but a President cannot continue to hold on to the office in perpetuity.
In any case, it is provided that elections for the President were to be held during the period of three months beginning with the date when the office of President becomes vacant. This provision was wrongly construed to give the incumbent President some additional time before the elections.
The alternative interpretation, as I mentioned earlier, focuses on the timing of the election when the term is about to expire and when the office of the President becomes vacant for reasons other than the natural expiration of their term.
The primary reason for this alternative interpretation is to ensure a smooth transition of power. By holding the election during the period leading up to the expiration of the President’s term (effluxion of time), it helps avoid any power vacuum or uncertainty. It allows for a clear process of electing the next President without a gap in leadership.
So, moving forward, we should firmly reject and challenge any President who attempts to extend their term, like the recent case of President Bio, who added extra months beyond his term’s expiration on April 4, 2023, leading to the elections being conducted on June 24, 2023.
With strict adherence to the law, Mr, Maada Bio should have ceased to be the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone on April 4, 2023. In such a scenario Chief Justice of the Republic of Sierra Leone should have served as the Interim President to oversee the elections, including the current situation when the runoff has been declared.
It’s crucial to note that there is a significant possibility for the SLPP’s most dreaded thought to become a reality: that Mr. Bio will step aside, allowing the Chief Justice to serve as the Interim President during the runoff elections period.
The prolong stay and hold on to power by calling for elections at such a late date June 24, 2023, leaving the Presidency with a very short window of ten (10) days, posed a serious threat on Bio’s stewardship to completely be in charge of the elections should there be a runoff.
And now a runoff election is imminent. This I believe is the real reason for the impasse that we now face.
The APC leadership is committed to safeguarding the electorate’s votes and preventing any attempts to steal them. So far, the APC has made efforts to fulfil that commitment. However, on the contrary, the ostentatious and presumptuous SLPP National Chairman believes that everyone must align with the SLPP perspective, or else they risk being labelled as academically deficient or foolish.
This empty and conceited individual openly referred to the APC as fools and even asserted that the SLPP will not relinquish power to the APC. The uneducated but credentialed SLPP Chairman, Dr Prince Harding, following what should be his regrettable statement, has seen it spread widely and still has the audacity and boldness to engage in public discussions without tendering his resignation (he must resign both in his capacity as a party official and government) for such recklessness.
Furthermore, he is now suggesting that the APC should participate in parliamentary activities. Only fools will listen to him, and the APC I know will certainly not be bothered with the deceit of the SLPP.
The SLPP Government is notorious for deceit. The SLPP for instance informed the nation that the Mid-Census was not for political reasons, but it turned out that they conducted it solely for political reasons. But the issue of the SLPP National Chairman will certainly come again on another day’s topic. In nutshell, it is for these reasons that the SLPP in collaboration with ECSL tried to bulldoze their way and announced imaginary results and made a declaration in what is known as the Paopa-way.
In our local parlance in krio, we say, ‘SLPP dem testilo’, meaning that SLPP took the chance to be imposed thinking that no one will resist them. As a matter of fact, in the early hours of June 26, 2023, one senior SLPP member insinuated that the APC was going to fight on the outcome the ECSL-Konneh’s announcement and then stated: “And off course APC get for fight, but it will not last for more than a week.”
Indeed, APC is fighting but fighting differently from the type of fight the SLPP were expecting and will continue to fight to bring back the Democracy wherein the votes of the electorates matter, and the APC will politically resist any imaginary result that the ECSL makes so long as it is not clean.
In conclusion, the APC leadership has made solemn commitment to protect the votes of the people of Sierra Leone, and the APC as a Party is fully in support of its leadership; and the membership of the APC is of firm conviction that the Party leadership will continue to protect the June 24 votes of the people, and never to allow those votes to be stolen.
The ugliness of bully and use of force to bulldoze a Paopa agenda shall not continue to prevail in this modern age. Enough should be enough, and enough is enough. It is right to ensure that the correct and right things be done.
Elections are like licensed battles, the acronym ‘TEAM’ (Together Everyone Achieves More), is the spirit that the APC is maintaining to secure the desired victory. And the team membership is of the firm conviction to remain focus and not be bothered by any form of negativity.
This is the beginning of a new era in Sierra Leone, the Sun is bound to rise again in a democratic platform with a taste of admiration by all and for all the players. The APC is going to rise with the New Order wherein the right things will stand and stand justly for the people and future of Sierra Leone, thus providing the new light to make Africa proud.
It must be noted that because the APC will not want war in Sierra Leone, should there be any bullying or even attempt of bullying, the APC membership has the right to defend themselves and to resist any attempt or form of bully whatsoever.
Certainly, the APC set for the right things and ensure that the correct things are adhered to. The APC will not settle for anything less than ensuring the correct thing is done regarding the June 24 elections results.
Furthermore, it must be reiterated that the APC will not continue to tolerate further bullying or attempt of bullying/bulldozing strategies by its opponents should the opponent go by the already known mentality of the SLPP National Chairman Dr Prince Harding the celebrated certificated but not educated man. My last words are to the ECSL: ECSL do not be the reason for war in Sierra Leone again.
ECSL must publish the disaggregated results as soon as possible and must not allow itself to be ill-advised that the law does not require ECSL to publish the disaggregated results. The law provides for the results to be published and thus caters for the publication of the disaggregated results as soon as possible.
This matter is urgent and involves significant intricacies concerning the capacity and competence of the ECSL in managing the elections. And on that concluding note, it is important to remember that Mr. Julius Maada Bio himself once stated that “rigged elections can lead to war.”
Therefore, it’s imperative for ECSL to promptly and transparently publish all disaggregated results of the June 24 elections, if peace, justice, and unity among the people of Sierra Leone are to be fostered.