Sierra Leone Telegraph: 10 December 2021:
Former President of Sierra Leone – Ernest Bai Koroma, has emphasized the need for ECOWAS to put a high premium on monitoring governance systems in Africa as they do in monitoring election processes.
Koroma has been very active with the African Union and ECOWAS in observing elections across the continent. In under two years, he has led elections observer missions to six African countries.
Drawing from that rich experience, Koroma noted that international elections observation greatly discourages electoral fraud and inspires credible outcomes. He, therefore, urged the AU and ECOWAS to invest similar attention and resources in monitoring governance across the continent.
The former President referred to his home country where he said several violations, including the suspension of an Auditor General and the setting up of a tribunal to allegedly investigate conflict of interest at the eve of the publication of an annual audit report, represent a decline in democratic practice.
“Setting up a tribunal to investigate an Auditor General at the eve of the publication of an audit report; the disruption of Parliament and imposition of a speaker, as well as the replacement of elected Members of Parliament by a court judgment, are not good signs of democratic progress,” president Koroma maintained.
Koroma was speaking at the plenary session on the topic; “Good Governance, and Democratic Consolidation: War- to- Peace and Democratic Transitions”. This was on the second day of the second edition of the ongoing Kofi Annan Peace and Security (KAPS II) Forum being held at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping and Training Center (KAIPTC) in Accra, Ghana.
The issues highlighted by President Ernest Bai Koroma have drawn international condemnation of Sierra Leone’s government, especially to its mismanagement of elections and abuse of executive powers.
The European Union Elections Follow – Up Mission recently recommended to the government that “the powers in the Constitution be exercised with restraint, and in the spirit of democratic compromise, not winner takes all.”
They went further and expressed concern over the significant decrease in trust in the essential institutions which play an integral role in elections and good governance.
The Mission asserted that these institutions’ reputations are less trusted than is needed and assessed that there are real grounds for concern in how these bodies have administered recent bye-elections. They also condemned removing opposition Members of Parliament and replacing them with ruling party candidates without following statutory processes.
The head of Afro Barometer, Professor E. Gyimah – Goadi, spoke about “Democratic Backsliding in Africa: nature, implications on stability and development, remedies,” cited the Sierra Leone Government’s aggression against its Auditor General as an indicator of democratic backsliding in that country.
Over the last two days, former heads of state, governance and policy experts participating at the KAPS II Forum have been discussing the decline of democracy in the Sub-region and proffering remedies to that ugly phenomenon.
One of these, according to President Koroma, should be a stronger focus on monitoring governance and swift, decisive regional response to violations.
At the end of the Two-Day Forum yesterday, KAIPTC has honoured former President Koroma for his rich contributions to the discourses and dedication to democratic good governance in Africa.