Sierra Leone Telegraph: 8 December 2017:
As the parliament of Sierra Leone closed yesterday, there were anxious moments across the country as civil society groups, the media and opposition parties received unofficial reports of the ruling APC working frantically behind the scenes, to present a last-minute Bill in parliament that could have disturbing consequences for the forthcoming general and presidential elections.
With three months to go before elections are held, there are growing concerns regarding possible electoral malpractices, which the ruling APC are suspected of planning ahead of those elections. Yesterday, the opposition National Grand Coalition party led by Dr. Kandeh Yumkella issued this statement:
The National Grand Coalition Party (NGC) calls on President Ernest Bai Koroma’s Government to observe the rule of law, respect and maintain the independence of the National Electoral Commission, and desist from attempts to manipulate the 2018 election process and creating a sense of insecurity and anxiety in the country.
The National Grand Coalition Party strongly condemns the letter of the Minister of Finance and Economic Development addressed to the National Electoral Commission threatening to withhold the weekly disbursements of Le10 Billion Leones to the Commission and further instructing the Commission to prepare for an audit of its books by the same Ministry.
The National Grand Coalition Party views the Minister’s letter as an unacceptable interference in the work of the Commission and calls on the international donor and diplomatic community to urge the Government to respect and maintain the independence and autonomy of the Commission and to provide it with the resources it needs to fulfil its mandate without delay.
In addition, the National Grand Coalition Party firmly rejects and opposes the provision in the Government’s White Paper on the Recommendations of the Constitutional Review Commission calling for an amendment that would shift from 55% to 50+1 as requirement to determine an outright winner in the forthcoming elections.
The National Grand Coalition Party views the provision in the White Paper its replication in Section 10 of the Bill entitled “The Constitution of Sierra Leone (Amendment) Act, 2017” which is a supplement to the Sierra Leone Gazette vol. CXLVIII No. 85 dated 1st December 2017 as a blatant attempt to manipulate the election process to work in favour of the Ruling Party.
The Government’s attempt further constitutes a flagrant violation of the 1991 Constitution and undermines the spirit and intendment of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission as well as Section 2 Article 2 of the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance.
Furthermore, the National Grand Coalition wishes to draw the attention of the public to the sudden and abrupt changes recently effected in the Security Forces on the eve of the 2018 Elections, and considers the move as another deliberate attempt by the Ruling Party to create a semblance of insecurity and a false sense of mistrust and unease in the populace.
The National Grand Coalition hopes that these changes in the upper echelons of the security apparatus, a key elections management body, are not a ploy to compromise the elections in favour of the Ruling All People’s Congress Party.
It is the view of the National Grand Coalition Party that Ministers who are largely seen as Ruling Party loyalists have been put in charge of these key security and elections related ministries to compromise these institutions and the whole electoral process.
We therefore call on all sectors of the nation’s security apparatus to remain autonomous, jealously guard their neutrality and resist any attempts by the Ruling Party to subvert and derail their constitutional mandate.
Finally, the NGC strongly condemns the re-deployment and use of public servants as spokespersons for the Ruling All People’s Congress Party and wishes again to draw the attention to the Public, and the Human Resources Management Office and Public Service Commission in particular to recent examples of this practice including the Public Relations Officer of the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry & Food Security and the Head of the Schools Radio Broadcast programme in the Ministry of Education.
The National Grand Coalition believes that this practice on the part of the Ruling Party not only undermines the independence and neutrality of the Civil Service, but also diverts scarce human and material resources from an already under-resourced Public Service in addition to politicising the Civil Service itself and threatening the independence and neutrality of other Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government, including the National Electoral Commission.
The National Grand Coalition Party therefore calls on the Public Service Commission and the Human Resources Management Office to sanction and immediately withdraw these Government functionaries and any others from their political engagements and ensure their fullest commitment to matters of service to the public or have them immediately replaced with mainstream civil servants committed to working apolitically for the public good.
The National Grand Coalition is a progressive liberal democratic party founded to energise and drive entrepreneurship, a vibrant and diversified free market economy, innovation, wealth creation, prosperity, and social and economic inclusiveness.
You can contact the NGC:
Francis Hindowa – National Secretary-General of the NGC
Contact: Imran Sillah (National Publicity Secretary)
Telephone/Mobile: +232 76 023 384
Freetown, Sierra Leone