Alan Luke: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 18 March 2022:
According to sources within the newly renamed Election Commission of Sierra Leone (ECSL), the Head of the EU Elections Observers to Sierra Leone, is being monitored by the Government of Sierra Leone, meaning that his movements within the country is being watched by the government.
As such, the Head of the EU Elections Observers to Sierra Leone whose organisation is funding the 2023 elections will be unable to obtain free and unfettered access to the operations of the ECSL, to satisfy himself that the election processes is free, fair and transparent on election day and post-election, during the counting and tallying process, and will not be interfered with by the government and the ruling SLPP party.
The Bio administration is unhappy with the diplomatic community, following their courtesy call at the Goderich home of former President, Ernest Bai Koroma on 8th February 2022. The visit was a follow-up to previous discussions and consultations relating to the country’s social and political situation ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Among the visiting diplomats were the British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone – Lisa Chesney (Photo), the United States’ Ambassador in Sierra Leone, David Reimer and Manuel Muller, the Head of the EU Delegation to Sierra Leone, Manuel Muller.
Sierra Leonean’s will also be aware that the EU Election Follow-up Mission’s Final Report of November 2021, did not paint a rosy picture of the readiness of the ECSL (then NEC) to conduct free, fair, and impartial elections in 2023. Their report noted that only one of the twenty-nine recommendations from the 2018 General Elections, had been fully implemented and four had been partially implemented. This painted a clear picture that both ECSL and the Bio Government were dragging their heels on implementing the recommendations.
According to sources within the Bio administration, on return from his visit to Turkey and Vietnam, President Bio intends to ask the EU to stop funding the 2023 election and will be seeking to solicit support from other friends of Sierra Leone, specifically the Chinese government. Such a move would demonstrate President Bio’s determination to retain office until 2028, not only by rigging the elections, but by ensuring that the election outcome is endorsed by those who would act as guarantors of the electoral process.
Sierra Leoneans should take very seriously any attempt by President Bio to undermine our democracy by installing the Chinese as the primary funder and guarantor of the election process.
China is not a beacon of democracy. It has crushed the democratic foundations of Hong Kong and Macau, following the handover of these territories from the British and Portuguese in the later 1990s.
China wants to provide finance for the Lungi Bridge under its Belt and Road initiative. Sierra Leone is a country which is under significant risk of debt distress, with public debt at 77% of GDP. Accepting Chinese funding for the Lungi Bridge is likely to be a quid-pro-quo, that the Chinese government will demand, to provide financial support for the 2023 elections and act as a moral guarantor of the process.
This would be further insult to injury to Sierra Leoneans, given that the Bio government handed over Black Johnson Beach to the Chinese, who will destroy the ecosystem around the beach, by the creation of a fish farm on the site.
The Bio government’s shambolic handling of the Mid-Term Census, which international donors refused to support, because it was designed to gerrymander the 2023 election outcome, by creating more parliamentary seats and district councils in the Southeast of the country, provides a good indicator of the likely outcome of the 2023 elections process, if EU funding and monitoring of these elections is prohibited.
Sierra Leoneans will not accept monitoring of the 2023 elections by President Bio’s new friends, be it China, Turkey, or Vietnam. Their likely endorsement of a rigged process may well provide the spark that puts the country back on a path of civil strife and we would not let our hard-won peace, our fledgling democracy to be sacrificed for the self-interest of President Bio and his cronies.
President Bio has become increasingly unpopular as Sierra Leoneans are faced with an unprecedented cost of living crisis, for which the Bio government has no solution.
Fuel prices have increased from Le 12,000 to Le15,000 per litre. Cost of public transport has also gone up by thousands of Leones in some cases, sparking an immediate hike in food prices as well as other commodities.
In addition, the capital Freetown has been in constant darkness for several months as electricity outage becomes the new normal under the Bio-led government. The same calls for change which were directed at the Koroma government in 2018 are now directed at President Bio.
About the author
Alan Luke is the former Chairman of the National Grand Coalition (NGC) Party, UK/I Branch.
The only suprise here people are actually surprised by Bio’s plans that have been on the war footing since his inauguration back in 2018.If they were driving the SLPP van wagon on second gear, now they are moving it into first gear, because what the dashboard is telling Bio and his presidency he is an endangered spices.public confidence in him is low. Bio and his team of enforcers have never pause their campaign message or campaign slogan “papoa”, Monitoring international elections monitoring groups like ECOWAS, the AU and European Union is part of Bio’s play book on how to retain power by what ever means.
The next thing Bio has been doing under the radar is trying to control the narrative by ensuring some of the Sierra Leonean press is cowed enough to act like cheer leaders for his failed government. And having his army of hired surrogates on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and twitter posting positive messages about his government efforts and their socalled achievements in improving the living standards of Sierra Leoneans is to ensure nothing is taken for granted and all areas are covered.. Bio knows all too well elections are won on the air waves, or electronic communications, not on policy manifestos, given the high level of illiteracy in Sierra Leone.Never mind most of this key board warriors and paid propagandists are living from hand to mouth and some of them can’t afford to look after their loved ones because of the very tried and tested failed economic policies pursued by this out of touch, corrupt and control freak one directionless government of Bio’s.
We know his main aims and objectives is to retain power at all costs. He will continue to harass the opposition parties, especially those that he considers as the bulwark to his reelection chances. So Bio has to be creative. He will not want to annoy our Western partners, so preaching positive messages on the international arena about his government achievements is one way of saying he is the right candidate to led the country. And we already know he has his hired thugs that will do the dirty work for him. So incase there is any violence, God forbade, Bio will plea his innocence. And investigate any such acts of violence by this “RAH RAY MEN” and pin it on his door steps will be a near impossible tasks to proof. Bio is taken away all the stops to make sure he retained power either by hook or crook. So the opposition parties should stay alert and fucus. We know where we are heading but we don’t know how to get there.
If the sources of the article are correct, they portrays a Bio Government that is becoming increasingly nervous and unhinged, seeing enemies everywhere in their grand design to hold on to power come 2023. These people know that they have fallen out of favour with the electorate, even in large sections of their stronghold in the south south/southeast as Mende people start taking a closer look at NGC as a viable alternative to both SLPP and APC who, in more than sixty years have retarded the progress of the nation and hence their social and economic conditions.
When Maada Bio was elected in 2018, he unconsciously believed that time had come to a standstill and that the presidency was his for eternity. These beliefs sent him on the most unique sinister escapades the nation had never witnessed – by-elections violence, ordering soldiers to shoot and kill unarmed civilians, even those locked up in jail, locking up people without charges and trial, illegally sacking public servant, discarding the Auditor- General’s reports because of incriminating evidence against him and his Government, pardoning murderers because they are SLPP. The escapades are infinite.
Now in the twilight zone of his presidency Bio has had the rude awakening that time never stood still. Demons which he created with his own hands are now arrayed against him, with some of them having assumed invisible and invincible powers. The diplomatic community whom he has been trying to carry across the threshold have refused to budge; his nervousness reaches fever pitch when they visit former President Earnest Koroma. Lately he has been trying to get Dr Yomkella to hold out a helping to him as the political world caves in on him, his government and henchmen/women, but clever KKY has only intensified his misery by his “ar ole word” response. Manipulating the Electoral Commission to his will now seems the only option left for Bio to stay in power for a second term. But we and the world are watching.