Sierra Leone Telegraph: 23 November 2023:
President Bio has officially welcomed members of the Cross-Party National Elections Review Committee which has been set up in line with the peace accord signed by the ruling SLPP and the main opposition APC last month, marking the end of hostilities between the two political parties since the conclusion of the country’s controversial presidential and general elections in June 2023.
The peace accord amongst other things, calls for the setting up of an elections review committee to investigate Sierra Leone’s electoral systems, structures, legislations, framework and policies which the opposition APC are accusing the ruling SLPP and the electoral commission of abusing and rigging, in order to keep President Bio in power for another five years, despite losing the elections.
Launching the elections review committee on Tuesday, President Bio said: “Today, in line with my Government’s commitment towards deepening and building a strong and vibrant democracy in SierraLeone, I launched the Cross-Party Committee on the Review of Sierra Leone’s Electoral Systems and the Electoral Management Bodies at the State House in Freetown.
“The Committee is expected to review existing legal frameworks and institutional arrangements to improve the electioneering processes in Sierra Leone.
“My government remains resolute in our quest to address the capacity challenges in our electoral architecture and is committed to implementing proposed reforms to strengthen Sierra Leone’s electoral systems.”
But if the opposition APC are expecting the review to produce evidence in support of their accusation of massive vote rigging by the electoral commission in favour of President Bio, they are most certainly going to be disappointed.
Whilst the opposition APC have been calling for the electoral commission to publish the results of all polling stations across the country so as to verity whether President Bio had won the election, the government has insisted there are no laws making it mandatory for the election commission to publish the results.
Hence it is unlikely the elections review committee which is largely made up of ruling SLPP party and opposition APC executives will investigate all of the polling station results for verification and publication.
The committee will have two chairpersons – Dr. Emmanuel A. R. Gaima and Dr. Kelfala Marah – a former minister in the Ernest Bai Koroma government and APC presidential aspirant.
The Committee has equal number of members from both the SLPP and APC as follows: Dr. Emmanuel A. R. Gaima (Co-Chair), Hon Dr. Fatmata Hassan, Isatu J Kabbah, Hon. Helen Kuyembeh, Hon. Umaru Napoleon Koroma, Hon. Alpha Sesay, and Rd. Hon. Justice John Kamanda representing the SLPP; and the APC is represented by Dr. Kelfala Marah (Co-Chair), Dr. Richard Konteh, Ambassador Alimamy Petito Koroma, Mr. Boniface Sidikie Kamara, Mr. David Fornah, Bernadette Kargbo, and Mr. Prince Tholley.
But the opposition APC are protesting the inclusion of civil society organisations and others in the election review committee, such as the Institute of Governance Reform, 50-50 Group, Sierra Leone Association of Journalists, Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone, and the National Council for Civic Education and Democracy.
According to senior APC executives, the inclusion of the third sector who are generally regarded as pro-president Bio, is in violation of the post-elections peace accord signed by the SLPP and APC leadership.
STATE HOUSE, FREETOWN, 21ST NOVEMBER 2023: Following the official launch
today by His Excellency, President Dr Julius Maada Bio, of the “Independent CrossParty Committee on Electoral Systems and Management Bodies Review”, in Sierra Leone, the general public is hereby informed as follows:
The Co- Chairpersons
1. Dr. Emmanuel A. R. Gaima
2. Dr. Kelfala Marah
3. UN Resident Coordinator
List of nominated members from the Government of Sierra Leone
1. Dr. Emmanuel A. R. Gaima (Co-Chair)
2. Hon Dr. Fatmata Hassan
3. Mdm Isatu J Kabbah
4. Hon. Helen Kuyembeh
5. Hon. Umaru Napoleon Koroma
6. Hon. Alpha Sesay
7. Rtd. Hon. Justice John Kamanda
List of nominated members from the All Peoples Congress Party
1. Dr Kelfala Marah (Co-Chair)
2. Dr Richard Konteh
3. Ambassador Alimamy Petito Koroma
4. Mr. Boniface Sidikie Kamara
5. Mr. David Fornah
6. Mdm. Bernadette Kargbo
7. Mr. Prince Tholley
1. Institute of Governance Reform
2. 50-50 Group
3. Sierra Leone Association of Journalists
4. Human Rights Commission of SierraLeone
5. National Council for Civic Education and Democracy
Nominated Moral Guarantors:
• African Union
• United Nations
• ICPNC – Independent Commission for Peace & National Cohesion
• Women’s Forum
• NCPC – National Council of Paramount Chiefs
• SLLC- Sierra Leone Labour congress
• CFN – Children’s Forum Network
• DYC- District Youth Representative
• IRCSL- Inter-Religious Council of Sierra Leone
Solomon Jamiru Esq.
Office of the President