Parliament approves new NEC boss Mohamed Konneh as political row continues

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 29 July 2020:

Parliament of Sierra Leone yesterday voted by a majority to approve the newly appointed  Chairman of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) – Mohamed Kenewui Konneh, despite strong protests by the main opposition APC party and others, including the PMDC, claiming that Mr Konneh is constitutionally unqualified for the role.

But the minority opposition NGC party – led by Dr Kandeh Yumkella, voted with ruling SLPP party MPs to make the approval.

A total of 78 Members of Parliament voted in favour of approving the new NEC Boss, with 51 voting against.

Speaking on the motion to approve, Bashiru Silikie MP, described Mohamed Kenewui Konneh (Photo) as a man who had successfully fought against corruption nationally and internationally; adding that such a man would not preside over a corrupt electoral process. He referred to him as a man of competence and integrity to superintend over the affairs of NEC. In light of provisions in the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone, he said Mohamed Kenewui Konneh is qualified for the role.

Hon. Shiaka M. Sama, an independent MP from Pujehun described  Mohamed Kenewui Konneh as a good replacement for his predecessor. Adding that the nominee is a disciplined and an energetic man who believes in teamwork.

Hon. Alpha Bah of APC referred to the minutes of the excerpt report regarding deliberation and resolution, citing constitutional provisions which makes Mohamed Kenewui Konneh unqualified for  appointment as the NEC Boss. “Mr Konneh is not qualified,” he said.

Hon. Hindolo M. Gevao of SLPP said that Mohamed Kenewui Konneh is qualified, citing precedents for appointments to public offices established by the immediate past government. He also informed the House that the nominee is not seeking for election to Parliament, but rather an appointment by the President to serve as the Chief Electoral Commissioner of NEC .

Hon. Abdul Karim Kamara of APC thanked President Bio for appointing one of his constituents to serve in high offices of State. He described the appointment of the new NEC Boss as controversial and has the tendency to undermine the law and the House’s credibility.

Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Sengepoh Solomon Thomas recalled that the approval of past Chairmen of NEC had not gone without scuffles  but said that Mohamed Kenewui Konneh is qualified for the position, after he had been nominated by President Bio.

Hon. Saa Francis Bhendu of C4C questioned the voter registration ID of the new NEC Boss and requested to see the evidence that he is on the voter register.

Hon. Ibrahim Ben Kargbo of APC said the future and the stability of the State lies primarily on the electoral process, and that the Chairman of the Electoral Commission “is someone in whom they should be certain”. He argued that Mr. Konneh is not qualified for the position and described his appointment as “an embarrassment” because Konneh was occupying a statutory office at the time of his appointment by the president which he said is unconstitutional.

Hon. Kandeh Yumkella of NGC described the NEC as the foundation and key institution that will ensure the will of the people is adhered to. He said that the NGC has presided over electoral violence and fraud, and discredited, as he called on Mr Konneh to do his best to change the narrative and image of NEC. (See video below).

Support Mohamed Kenewui Konneh appointment, Yumkella said that Mr. Konneh is not affected by Section 76 (1b) of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone in so far as his appointment to head the NEC is concerned, but said also that those who think otherwise should go to the Supreme Court for interpretation.

Leader of C4C, Hon. Saa Emerson Lamina said Mr. Konneh is “competently qualified to serve as the New NEC Boss”. He also said the appointment of Mohamed Kenewui Konneh would allay the fears of donors and instil confidence in the electoral process.

Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Chernor Bah made reference to a statement published by his APC party condemning the lack of consultation prior to the appointment of Mohamed Kenewui Konneh.  He said the nominee is a public officer and that he is not constitutionally qualified for the position. He said previous Chairmen of NEC were appointed after proper consultation with all political parties.

Leader of Government Business, Hon. Mathew Nyuma recalled how the APC had abrogated the constitution by bypassing Parliament and unconstitutionally sacked the former Vice President, Chief Alhaji Sam Sumana. On the appointment of the new NEC Boss, he said consultations were made; adding the constitution did not specify the mode of consultations. He described MPs as good legislators, but expressed disappointment relating to interference by outsiders whom he referred to as “pseudo politicians”. He informed the House that Mohamed Kenewui Konneh is qualified and competent to lead the NEC.

Immediately after parliament’s vote to approve his appointment,  Mohamed Kenewui Konneh drove off to meet the president at State House where he took his oath of office. (Photo above). 

After the swearing-in ceremony, the new NEC boss said that he is deeply humbled and honoured by the opportunity to chair the country’s Electoral Commission, an institution entrusted with the responsibility of preserving the constitutional democracy through the conduct of free and fair elections.

“Your Excellency, I thank you for having faith in my abilities to discharge this vital national duty. I am deeply grateful too to Parliament and other political parties in Parliament for their support for my appointment.

“I am fully aware of the weight of the responsibilities and expectations that I am entrusted with, as Chairman of NEC. I am ready, willing and I have the competence to discharge these responsibilities with professionalism, integrity, and commitment to our country and all its citizens,” he said.

President Bio congratulated the new NEC boss for his successful approval in Parliament. He also reminded him of how difficult the new role is but noted that he has been meticulously chosen. He assured of his government’s support in helping him accomplish the task ahead.

8 Comments

  1. Is Sam Sumana in the APC or C4C?? Is Mr. Matturi a member of the APC or C4C?? Is Mr. Emmerson Lamina in the APC or C4C??
    When is EBK going to stop holding the APC and Salone to Ranson??

    Stargazer alias Saidu Conteh and Mr. Matturi remember my words: you are in the wrong ship sailing in the wrong direction. You are fighting a losing battle. Change your chairmann for life everlasting and bring in a progressive and smart successor for the betterment of SALONE!!

  2. See – this is exactly my point Mr Matturi – the legendary APC should not remain self-congratulatory and complacent thinking they’ve got victory already secured and settled; I guarantee that will be the saddest and most disastrous mistake they have ever committed in their political lives – Gentlemen be vigilant, do not underestimate the unscrupulous underhanded tendencies of this criminal cabal now in power – with Foxes we must think like foxes and not like fragile gullible ewe lambs, for the mind of prudence knows their stratagems and tricks are as countless and as prickly as sharpened thorns surrounding a beautiful fragrant rose – twice you’ve already been warned by he who gazes and ponders the thoughts of billions of stars in the milky way galaxy! Its all now in your hands!

    • Sure Stargazer. I agree with you. The legendary APC must not be complacent. The APC must, with this new development, be very vigilant and work very hard. If Hon Saa Emmerson Lamina is trying to position himself as the indomitable and untouchable leader of the C4C and can decide whatever he thinks, then he is making a SAD mistake. He must know that political parties are not democratic. They can hire and fire any member without notice. Your position in the party does not matter.
      I believe, Hon Saa Emmerson Lamina and Dr Kandeh Yumkella are on a suicide political mission. Dr Kandeh Yumkella will be the greatest loser from the fallout of this vote for supporting an unqualified person to a position that is not right under the constitution, because as someone with such academic baggage, he ought to know better. Are these two men SLPP in disguise?

      I believe, the C4C will do whatever it can to take care of itself, if Hon Saa Emmerson Lamina has gone rogue. Anyway, let’s wait for the fallout from what I am seeing as a rogue political manoeuvre by these two men. I have your back Stargazer. God bless C4C and Stargazer.

  3. Hon Saa Emmerson Lamina and Dr Kandeh Yumkella; have you people given total victory to the APC and the PMDC come 2023? Aaaaa…..HA. God bless Chief Sam Sumana, the APC and the PMDC.

  4. It was in 2018 elections when Dr Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella (KKY) committed political suicide by abandoning the SLPP bandwagon and found himself in an unknown territory called the National Grand Coalition (NGC). A party that is not clear on how to brand itself, whether the coalition embodies Socialist, Capitalist or Centrist principles in a modern democratic dispensation. With only 4 seats in a parliamentary total of 146 seats, including 14 Paramount Chiefs, the NGC only accounts for 2.7% of lawmakers. Today the party is in LIMBO as the leader Dr Yumkella, is not sure whether yo give up on his dreams and regretfully knock at the back door of the SLPP; and most importantly there is no guarantee they will let him in, again.

    Dr Kandeh Yumkella’s strength feeds from his academic credentials and the fact that he had served as a senior employee of the United Nations (UN). These qualifications have molded a trait that is synonymous to a ‘big-headed’ and ‘know-it-all’ type of person. He also seems to portray a disposition of the guy that is prepared to sign any deal, either business or political, as long as the ‘price is right’. He knows how to look after himself. And coupled with these attributes is the double-standard nature of Dr Yumkella; which is gradually becoming unattractive to the populace; and it is very unlikely that he will make any impact in the next elections. So, what should KKY do to maintain some respect and some amount of significance? Jump back ship to the SLPP or drift on with his miniature foot soldiers? Either way, as the saying goes: ‘first impressions count’ – KKY has had his day.

    Yumkella knows he is surviving in dangerous waters, with a strong APC storm blowing from the direction of Tonko Limba. Sooner, the people of Kambia District would come to their pragmatic senses and realize that the Grand Coalition is in effect not grand at all. If Dr Yumkella is adamantly speaking the language of the party he ran away from, especially at a period when the people are wi0tnessing their lives being transformed into a state of fear, they might as well go back to their roots, the APC. At least they can regain their pride and exercise their basic freedoms, human rights and civil liberties. At this point, the best KKY can hope for in trying to salvage the NGC is to try and secure his parliamentary seat in the 2023 elections. Not looking good for the poor guy. It is like standing on a thin interface, with the APC on one side and the SLPP on the other.

  5. There are red flags waving everywhere signalling ominous dark political clouds gathering overhead…Prudent minds look not away,but become patriotic and emboldened enough to take a stand and vigorously spread the awareness that purposeful deceit looms on the horizons, that may eventually invalidate an outright APC decisive victory in the next coming general election.The criminal SLPP cabal are carefully laying the groundwork for an illegitimate victory in the year 2023, just like a group of slippery brick layers that cunningly measure and cut unwanted concrete bricks, making them resourceful once again by wedging and putting them into their wrongful positions by brute force.

    Hey! You carefree happy-go-lucky guys in red have already be warned; you must become vigilant, aware and quick-witted like desert meerkats, otherwise no hope for victory in 2023 – gentlemen, do all and whatever you can and that includes going to hell and back twice in order to ensure that you don’t lose even before the games actually begin without you even knowing it…these words of advice are only for the Wise among us for it is they alone that I know, that will bow and listen to cautious instruction.

  6. There are record breakers and there are breakers of records. Politically, President Bio falls within the last category of record breakers. Since he took office, he’d sack more government officials, than anyone cares to count. It is either his way or the highway. I suppose it keeps every government minister and officials on their toes. His behaviour is akin to a football manager. Sometimes a tin pot dictator. To his world view, you have to earn your place; it is not a God given right. Hence the unceremonious sackings. And performance and results are two of the key qualities you need. In certain ways is a good idea, Knowing President Bio is ready to strike at anytime. I wish he extends it to the trigger happy youth killers in the military and police.

    My only hope is that this new electoral commissioner stays in his job and is allowed to perform his role without any political interference. Mr. Muhammed k. Konneh, your work is cut out for you. Although you were appointed by the president and approved by a rubber stamp parliament, it doesn’t make you a stooge of any political party in the country. Your job is highly scrutinised, hence the need for you to perform your work transparently, so everyone can see the workings of the commission and most importantly, be independent of all political affiliations. Your decisions will have an impact on the peace and security of our country. May God bless the Republic of Sierra Leone.

  7. Congratulations to our new NEC Chairman Mr. Mohamed Konneh. Unfortunately, the corrupt APC party already knows that they are going to lose the 2023 presidential elections, so they are trying to make you a scapegoat. just the way they continue to blame Mr. N’fa Alie Conteh for their humiliating and devastating defeat of the 2018 presidential election. Please stay focused on your mission because the majority of Sierra Leoneans will continue to pray for your success.

Tell us about your views

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.