Sylvanus Fornah Koroma: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 25 October 2023:
The return to governance of the All Peoples Congress (APC) elected representatives as stated in the recently signed Communique of the October 16th – 18th, 2023, dialogue between the SLPP government and the main opposition APC, is an issue that is yet to be fully resolved.
The signed communique is the real road map to end the political impasse in the country. And in the same token, will to a large extent serve as a deterrent to impunity practiced by public officials in Sierra Leone, who openly abuse the law with utmost disregard to its consequences.
The taking of seats by the APC elected representatives in their respective institutions (Parliament and Councils) that was announced on June 24, 2023, elections, and outlined in Resolution 2 of the Peace Dialogue Communique which states that the APC will end its “non-participation in governance” should be put on hold and in its right perspective.
The APC’s primary objective in the dialogue was to ensure that the Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone (ECSL) publish the results of the June 24 elections. Resolution 3 of the communique directly hinges around the reasons for APC’s political position regarding their non-participation in governance.
The communique includes the retrospective payment of benefits to the elected representatives when they take up their offices. This is very important and therefore the elected representatives must no longer be in haste to take their seats, but to ensure they make the necessary sacrifice for the Party to get the justice it deserves.
It must be noted that the reason for the elected representatives to wait and not take their seats until Resolution 3 is accomplished, is because it is only their non-participation that has the required pressure to achieve the Party’s main objective.
And that objective, which is about the publication of the announced results by ECSL can only be achieved by effecting Resolution 3 of the communique. It is therefore prudent to state that Resolution 3 in the same communique must be a precondition for Resolution 2.
ECSL must publish the results pursuant to and in accordance with sections 91,92, and 93 of the Public Elections Act, 2022 (PEA,2022). That said, it becomes relevant to emphasize to the elected APC Representatives and they must know it that there is no longer any need for them to be in haste to take their seats, and that their exercise of patience will be a reason for increased representation, that will in turn be beneficial to other colleague, the Party, and the country at large.
The elected representative must be reminded that even Mohamed Bangura publicly has commented that the June 24 elections were not reflective of the people’s votes. The APC and its leadership in particular promised to protect the votes of the electorates, and this is a cause worth sacrificing for.
The Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone (ECSL) has deliberately refused to publish the results. The refusal of ECSL to publish the results is now an open secret that the announced results were falsified, and such criminal act attracts 5 years imprisonment when proven pursuant to section 120 of the PEA, 2022: “A person who being a member or officer of the Election Commission, charged with the counting of votes or making of return at an election, wilfully falsifies the account of the votes or wilfully makes false return commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of not less than 20,000 Leones or imprisonment for a term of 5 years or both the fine and the imprisonment.”
The primary reason for the ECSL’s reluctance to publish the election results is the fear of imprisonment if proven guilty of falsification. His refusal is nothing short of impunity and disregard for the law of the land.
APC must know, and particularly the APC elected representatives, that the peace dialogue and its communique will be pointless if the Party’s main position statement that has to do with the cause of what led to the impasse is not met.
The leadership of the APC must insist and let it be known that Resolution 3 of the communique must be a precondition for Resolution 2.