Sierra Leone Telegraph: 19 October 2023:
Both the main opposition APC party – led by Dr Samura Kamara, and the government of Sierra Leone – represented at the mediation talks by the government’s chief minister David Sengeh, have today signed an historical agreement to end the post–election conflict that has been threatening to cripple the country, since the declaration of President Bio as winner of the Presidential election in July.
The agreement by both parties does not include a resolution to conduct a re-run of the elections, nor the publication of all polling stations results as previously demanded by the main opposition APC. This will no doubt cause anger among supporters and members of the APC.
While the agreement recognises the demands made by the APC, for example – the resignation of the Chief Electoral Commissioner and all regional Commissioners, it remains to be seen whether this will be among the key changes to be announced soon by President Bio.
Other key agreements reached by the APC and the government include the backpayment of salaries and other financial loss suffered by all elected APC members of parliament, councillors, Mayors and council chairpersons following their decision to boycott governance.
In return for the government’s decision to accept the demands of the APC as listed in the agreement, all elected APC politicians will return to parliament and local councils.
Commenting on the resolutions reached by the government and the APC today, the US Embassy in Sierra Leone said: “The Embassy of the United States of America applauds the Government of Sierra Leone and the All People’s Congress Party for their leadership and courage in signing the Agreement for National Unity.
“We appreciate and recognize the work undertaken by mediators from the African Union, the Commonwealth of Nations, and the Economic Community of West African States, which was vital in bridging differences and advancing dialogue.
“This landmark agreement represents a critical step on Sierra Leone’s democratic journey. The decision of the leadership of the All People’s Congress to take up its elected seats in national and local government institutions will ensure a robust and constructive opposition voice in these bodies and help ensure that they take into account the interests of all Sierra Leoneans as they carry out their important work.
“The parties’ agreement to form a commission to review the conduct and results of the June 2023 multi-tier elections offers an important opportunity to address long-standing institutional challenges to free, fair, and credible elections.
“The United States Embassy applauds the decision to form a joint, inclusive leadership for this commission and to ensure that its work includes a focus both on the results tabulation process and the conduct of the Election Commission of Sierra Leone.
“We stand ready to support the critical work of the commission and hope that it will be carried out in a spirit of inclusion, unity of purpose, and transparency.
“The United States Embassy recognizes that this agreement represents but a first step in the process of rebuilding trust, promoting national cohesion, and strengthening democracy in Sierra Leone. For this process to advance, leaders of all political parties will need to ensure that the Agreement on National Unity is implemented rapidly and fully — in letter and in spirit. We urge all Sierra Leoneans to come together and support their national leaders in this important work.”
This is what the agreement between the government and the APC says:
MEDIATED DIALOGUE BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT OF SIERRA LEONE AND THE ALL PEOPLES CONGRESS PARTY – 16-18 OCTOBER 2023
AN AGREEMENT FOR NATIONAL UNITY
- WELCOMING THE THREE-DAY MEDIATED DIALOGUE BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT OF SIERRA LEONE AND THE ALL PEOPLES CONGRESS PARTY (APC) (HEREIN AFTER REFERRED TO AS THE PARTIES), TO ADDRESS THE POLITICAL IMPASSE POST THE JUNE 24TH 2023 MULTI-TIER ELECTIONS;
- THANKING THE MEDIATORS OF THE DIALOGUE – AFRICAN UNION, ECOWAS, THE COMMONWEALTH, AND THE INDEPENDENT COMMISSION FOR PEACE AND NATIONAL COHESION FOR THEIR EFFORT TO BRING THE PARTIES TOGETHER.
- NOTING THAT THE LAWS OF THE REPUBLIC OF SIERRA LEONE, ESPECIALLY THE CONSTITUTION OF SIERRA LEONE (ACT 6 1991) ARE SACROSANCT.
- GIVEN THAT THE PARTIES TO THE MEDIATED DIALOGUE – NOTE RECORDS OF CASES FILED IN THE SUPREME COURT AGAINST THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION FOR SIERRA LEONE, ECSL;
- NOTING THAT THE ALL PEOPLES CONGRESS HAS CONTINUED TO ASK THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION OF SIERRA LEONE FOR THE RELEASE OF THE “SUMMARY OF ALL STATEMENTS OF THE RESULTS FROM THE POLLING STATIONS” (SECTION 92, PUBLIC ELECTIONS ACT 2022) FOR THE 24TH JUNE 2023 MULTI-TIER ELECTIONS;
- NOTING FURTHER THAT THE ALL PEOPLES CONGRESS CONTINUES TO DEMAND FOR THE IMMEDIATE RESIGNATION OF THE CHAIRMAN AND CHIEF ELECTORAL COMMISSIONER AND ALL REGIONAL COMMISSIONERS OF ECSL;
- THE GOVERNMENT OF SIERRA LEONE NOTES THE PROVISIONS IN SECTION 32 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF SIERRA LEONE (AS AMENDED);
- THE APC PARTY ACKNOWLEDGES THE RELEVANCE OF SECTION 2(1) OF THE RIGHT TO ACCESS INFORMATION ACT 2013;
- NOTING THAT NO INDIVIDUAL OR CANDIDATE WHO PARTICIPATED IN THE JUNE 24, 2023 ELECTIONS CHALLENGED THE GAZETTED RESULTS (20TH JULY 2023) IN COURT;
THE PARTIES RESOLVED THE FOLLOWING:
- HIS EXCELLENCY THE PRESIDENT TO MAKE A NATIONAL ADDRESS ON DIALOGUE, UNITY, COHESION, AND PEACE
- THE APC WILL END ITS “NON-PARTICIPATION IN GOVERNANCE”
- HIS EXCELLENCY THE PRESIDENT IN CONSULTATION WITH THE APC, WILL CONSTITUTE A CROSS PARTY COMMITTEE ON ELECTORAL SYSTEMS AND MANAGEMENT BODIES REVIEW WITH A THREE-WAY LEADERSHIP NOMINATED BY THE GOVERNMENT OF SIERRA LEONE, THE APC, AND DEVELOPMENT PARTNERS. THIS BODY WILL EXAMINE THE ELECTORAL SYSTEMS, STRUCTURES AND PROCESSES OF THE 2023 MULTI-TIER ELECTORAL CYCLE. THE COMMITTEE WILL ALSO BE INFORMED BY PREVIOUS ELECTIONS WITH A VIEW TO HIGHLIGHTING AND ADDRESSING THE CONTINUOUS ISSUES OF ELECTIONS AND RESULTS MANAGEMENT INCLUDING THE COLLATION, VERIFICATION, AUTHENTICATION AND PUBLISHING OF ELECTORAL DATA CONSISTENT WITH INTERNATIONAL BEST PRACTICE TO ENHANCE THE CREDIBILITY OF ALL FUTURE ELECTIONS IN SIERRA LEONE THAT GUARANTEES ELECTIONS TO BE FREE, FAIR AND CREDIBLE.
- THE TERMS OF REFERENCE WILL BE DEVELOPED UNDER THE JOINT LEADERSHIP OF THE COMMITTEE WITHIN 30 DAYS.
- THE DURATION OF THE COMMITTEE WILL BE 6 MONTHS FROM THE DATE OF ESTABLISHMENT.
- THE RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE COMMITTEE SHALL BE ACTIONABLE AND IMPLEMENTABLE.
- THE COMMITTEE WILL BE GENDER-BALALNCED
THE PARTIES TO THE DIALOGUE AGREE TO THE FOLLOWING:
- RELEASE OF ANY PERSONS ARRESTED, DETAINED AND OR IMPRISONED FOR ALLEGED ELECTIONS AND CIVIL PROTEST (INFORMED BY A LIST TO BE SUBMITTED BY THE APC AND OTHER POLITICAL PARTIES, AND CONSIDERED BY THE GOVERNMENT OF SIERRA LEONE).
- THE DISCONTINUATION OF ANY POLITICALLY MOTIVATED COURT CASES AGAINST THE APC, OTHER PARTIES AND THEIR SUPPORTERS (BASED ON A LIST TO BE SUBMITTED BY THE APC AND OTHER PARTIES AND CONSIDERED BY THE GOVERNMENT OF SIERRA LEONE).
- SUPPORT THE RESETTLEMENT OF ANY POLITICAL PARTY SUPPORTERS INTERNALLY AND EXTERNALLY DISPLACED DUE TO POLITICAL INTIMIDATION, ATTACKS, AND HARASSMENT (INFORMED BY A LIST TO BE SUBMITTED BY THE APC AND OTHER PARTIES AND CONSIDERED BY THE GOVERNMENT) AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
- THAT UPON ASSUMPTION OF THEIR ELECTIVE GOVERNANCE POSITIONS, ALL ELECTED APC OFFICIALS (MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT, MAYORS, CHAIRPERSONS, COUNCILLORS) WILL HAVE THE ISSUE REGARDING THEIR ENTITLEMENTS ADDRESSED ACCORDINGLY BY THE APPROPRIATE INSTITUTIONS.
- PARLIAMENT TO ADDRESS ANY ISSUES AS IT RELATES TO THE LEADERSHIP, COMPOSITION OF COMMITTEES AND REPRESENTATION IN INTERNATIONAL PARLIAMENTS ON BEHALF OF APC (THE COMPOSITION OF COMMITTEES AND INTERNATIONAL PARLIAMENTS MUST REFLECT APC’S SHARE OF SEATS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONSTITUTION OF SIERRA LEONE).
- BOTH PARTIES AGREE TO THE INSTITUTIONALISATION OF AN INTER-PARTY DIALOGUE FRAMEWORK BETWEEN THE APC, SLPP, AND OTHER POLITICAL PARTIES. THIS WILL BE FACILITATED BY THE GOVERNMENT.
- BOTH PARTIES COMMIT TO RE-ENGINEER AND REKINDLE THE RELATIONSHIPS WITHIN THE NATIONAL SOCIO-POLITICAL ECO-SYSTEM SUCH AS BETWEEN HIS EXCELLENCY THE PRESIDENT AND FORMER POLITICAL LEADERS (FORMER PRESIDENTS AND VICE PRESIDENTS), THE APC AND SLPP LEADERSHIP, ETC.
- THE GOVERNMENT OF SIERRA LEONE AND THE APC PARTY STRICTLY CONDEMN ALL CITIZENS AT HOME AND ABROAD WHO INCITE VIOLENCE, SPREAD HATE SPEECH AND DISRUPT NATIONAL COHESION (ONLINE AND OFFLINE) AND GOVERNMENT WILL CONTINUE ALL EFFORTS TO BRING THOSE INVOLVED TO JUSTICE.
- THERE SHALL BE ACTIONS AND COMMITMENTS BY THE PARTIES TO IMPLEMENT THE AGREEMENTS REACHED DURING THIS MEDIATED DIALOGUE.
TO THIS END, THE GOVERNMENT OF SIERRA LEONE AND THE APC PARTY COMMIT TO THE ESTABLISHMENT OF AN INDEPENDENT COMMITTEE OF ‘MORAL GUARANTORS’ WHOSE MEMBERSHIP SHALL BE AGREED BY THE PARTIES TO SUPPORT AND MONITOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THIS AGREEMENT.
SIGNED: GOVERNMENT OF SIERRA LEONE AND THE ALL PEOPLES CONGRESS PARTY.