In Sierra Leone – State institutions that are supposed to serve the people are fanning the flames of war – Op ed

Ivan Kamara: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 13 June 2023:

The Sierra Leone Police, the military, Electoral Commission Sierra Leone (ECSL) and the judiciary are laying the foundation for our country to slide back to conflict. The heads of all of these institutions were deliberately handpicked and appointed to serve the interest of President Bio and not the interest of the people of Sierra Leone. Let me specifically focus this discussion to ECSL and its chairman.

Mohamed Konneh, Chief Electoral Commissioner of the Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone has proven, at least in recent times, to pose the greatest threat to the peace, security and stability of our country than any other person or group of persons since the end of the war in Sierra Leone. It is no longer a secret that he was forcefully imposed as Chief Electoral Commissioner to lead and direct a set of tribal cartels that have done and are still doing everything humanly possible to steal the popular will of the people of Sierra Leone.

Mr. Konneh said in one of his recent interviews that in discharging his duties, he is not subject to the control of any person or authority. I am sure Mr. Konneh relied of the 1991 Constitution Chapter IV, section 32(11) which states that: “In the exercise of any functions vested in it by this Constitution, the Electoral Commission shall not be subject to the direction or control of any person or authority”.

While this is very true, Mr. Konneh should note that he is subject to the direction and control of the 1991 Constitution and the Public Elections Act of 2022. The constitutional provision he relies on does not give him a blank cheque to do whatever he likes. He is duty-bound to follow the dictates of these two instruments and he and his institution must fully comply with all its provisions and not to cherry pick which one to comply with and which one to ignore or violate.

By their statutory mandate, ECSL must not only be said to be neutral, but they must also be seen to be neutral in their conduct and interactions with all political parties.

Mr. Konneh and his team have consistently tried to roll out their rigging agenda of the June 24 elections in favour of the SLPP. One fact that Sierra Leoneans and the wider public should not shy away from is that 96% or more of the staff at ECSL are mostly Mendes and other South-eastern tribes that have a strong leaning to the SLPP.

This is the reason why during the time of voter registration ECSL restricted and rejected a lot of eligible people from registering, especially in the Western area and the north of the country which are perceived strongholds of the APC. Even after registration, ECSL removed about 256,000 voters on claims of multiple registration and underage registrants; claims which they have failed to publicly prove.

Every citizen now knows that President Bio’s reliance on the ECSL to steal elections for him was the main reason that made him complacent on working to improve the lives of the people of this country. That was why the president never hesitated to order his security forces on several occasions to kill hundreds of harmless civilians in cold blood; that was why he and his men looted the state recklessly and when the Auditor General raised the red flag, he did not hesitate to fire her and her deputy; that was why he kept travelling aimlessly around the world, wasting taxpayers’ money and when citizens raised concern, he sarcastically remarked that “ladies and gentlemen, I will continue to fly”; that was why he hired mercenaries as ACC Commissioner and a high court judge in the persons of Francis Ben Kaifala and Adrian Fischer, respectively to dismantle and destabilize the opposition APC party so that there could be no opposition to his agenda of rolling out all his diabolic plans; that is why even though he has abysmally failed in his five year term, thanks to the worst economy ever and hyperinflation, he still has the audacity of going around dancing like he does not care.

Certainly, President Bio does not care about the citizens, and he knows they are very poised to vote him out; but again he knows ECSL will not allow that to happen. This is where ECSL should be regarded as public enemy number one.

ECSL is very much determined to impose President Bio for a second term, even though the signs are very clear that citizens do not want him. Let me assure ECSL that citizens are more determined than they are to ensure they kick out President Bio, by massively voting against him and protecting their votes. Make no mistake, nobody is going to mess with the will of the people.

To the Chief Justice and the judiciary of Sierra Leone; you have a major stake to the maintenance of the peace and stability of the state. The APC party has filed papers to the Supreme Court on the conduct of ECSL and its chairman regarding the electoral processes. You must listen to the issues raised in the interest of peace and fairness.

Citizens are therefore calling on you to place an interim injunction on ECSL pending the hearing and determination of those issues. Your failure to do so will not only undermine the peace and stability of the country, but will also affirm claims and suspicions that you and your institution are also a party to the broader rigging plan of ECSL to give President Bio an undeserved second term. And the people will never take kindly to that.

To our International Development Partners, you have spent substantial amount of resources and time in the restoration and maintenance of peace and the reformation of our public institutions. We call on you to take proactive steps and intervene now, rather than wait for the situation to degenerate before reacting.

All the heads of these institutions are either SLPP card-carrying members or sympathizers of the SLPP. So, they will never create a level playing field between the SLPP and the APC in all electoral processes and redress apparatus.

Let me end by calling on the citizens to remain calm and law-abiding as we await the nation-wide address of our leader and Presidential Aspirant, Dr. Samura Mathew Wilson Kamara. I urge the security forces to release the protesters they arrested today.

Protest is a fundamental right that is provided for by our constitution and no one should rob citizens of that right. In the struggles of APC, there is victory!


1 Comment

  1. The 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone gave the PRESIDENT the MANDATE to appoint the leaders of our institutions followed by CONFIRMATION by the parliament.

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