How much longer – Mr. President

Dr. Sama Banya

7 November 2012

Puawui had said it. Now the Carter Centre echoes it. I have on several occasions in this column expressed concern and repeatedly called attention to the vexed and critical question of the unclaimed voter registration cards, that are in the possession of the National Electoral Commission (NEC).

I had done this because of my sustained suspicion that the commission would, not may, use those cards to the advantage of the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) party.

I have repeatedly said that the reason for my continued suspicion of NEC’s nefarious activities, is born out of what has gone before, since the electoral process went into top gear.

Principal among these was its connivance with the ruling party to hike the nomination fees for all categories of candidates to unprecedented and unjustifiable levels, with no other motive than to deprive and disenfranchise a good percentage of intending parties and their candidates in the democratic process.

In addition, there is a story currently circulating within opposition circles of a plan to use “magic pens”, whose writing would automatically rub off after barely fifteen minutes of writing.

This lack of confidence in its intentions is the price the commission has to pay through its own fault.

And now one of the international observer teams – the Carter Centre, which has earned a high reputation for impartial elections monitoring worldwide, has issued a preliminary report of its observations and concerns so far.

It is a very objective report, as it unhesitatingly also gives credit to the commission where it is due.

But on the subject of unclaimed voter cards, here is what the team has to say:

“The Carter Centre is nevertheless concerned over a number of developments that may undermine confidence in the elections, including poor communication between NEC, District Election Offices and political parties regarding the issue of unclaimed voter cards, lacklustre voter education effort at the ward level, and troubling cases of intimidation of women candidates during the parties’ primary nomination periods.”

The Centre again unintentionally echoes what this old fool, who does not hesitate to put his foot where Angels fear to tread, has said on more than one occasion.

Likewise it states that “it is concerned by a series of events that led to the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) not fielding a presidential candidate.”

Next and this is an area to which Puawui has also persistently made reference, the Centre “Calls on the Government of Sierra Leone and the Sierra Leone Police to manage the security of all stakeholders in a transparent and impartial manner.”

By referring to the on-going academic court proceedings, the commission endorses the view previously stated in this column on the NDA matter and their inability to field a Presidential candidate.

It is generally acknowledged that the NEC woman has a strange opinion of herself, which makes her impervious to any reasonable suggestion, unless such suggestion or comment is consistent with the position she takes on any matter.

Did she have to wait for one of the international election observer teams to call her attention to the very crucial issue of the unclaimed voter cards?

Why has it not occurred to her that keeping quiet about those cards would raise suspicion, especially among the opposition parties?

Why has she not invited the leadership of the various parties for discussion on this and other issues pertaining to the conduct of the elections; matters which have been raised particularly by the opposition SLPP?

There is still time to put our minds at rest, unless as is most likely, she decides to ignore the preliminary concerns of one of the Observer missions.

Police impartiality

In my last report, I raised the issue of police neutrality or impartiality or the lack of them in this election. There is hardly a day that the attention of the Inspector General of Police has not been called to the heavy handedness or bias against the main opposition SLPP.

It makes nonsense of the numerous statements coming forth from George Street – Police Headquarters, in which the “Force for Good” endeavours to reassure us of their intention to be impartial, when even as such statements are being put out there, are events occurring to the contrary.

The Carter Centre concludes its preliminary reports with a series of recommendations, which both NEC, the Government as well as the PPRC on the one hand and the political parties, and the most important component of the exercise – the voters, must take into consideration and act on them before November 17.

The man called leatherboot is one that has gained notoriety in the country’s democratic process.

Perhaps he would have been ignored or simply silenced if it were not for his very high profile assignment, as part of the close security detail to no less a person than his Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma.

If the head of state was committed to a peaceful, transparent, fair and NON VIOLENT election, he would have had the young man reassigned from that first time when he left his post at State House to go and ‘gently’ discipline those difficult women at the opposition SLPP headquarters.

And now we have a story that he was stalking the SLPP Presidential candidate’s convoy into Tongo last week. And when caught red-handed, he was so confused that he could not even tell a convincing lie, except to blurt out unashamedly that his vehicle had overheated?

How much longer Mr. President, until you leave together?

Would someone from the other side tell us whether in addition to Tony Blair, both their Excellencies – Alpha Conde and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Guinea and Liberia respectively, are also expected to fly in and boost the sagging image of our President before his final departure from state house?


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