Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 4 January 2018:
The Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) has yesterday, January 3rd 2018, constitutionally elected Mrs. Emma Kowa-Jalloh, as the party’s new Southern Regional Chairperson. This was after the previous holder Edward Soluku stepped down to contest his old parliamentary seat in Moyamba.
According to the SLPP Constitution, a Regional Chairperson cannot contest parliamentary election. Emma Kowa (Photo), the erstwhile parliamentarian from Bo District, will herself no longer be contesting for parliament.
She is now going to focus on strengthening her party’s standing in the Southern Province, where her party is facing some level of threats from traditional APC rival, as well as the newly formed political coalitions of Dr. Kandeh Yumkella and Alhaji Musa Tarawallie.
Mrs. Emma Kowa-Jalloh has a formidable task ahead. But she has repeatedly shown that she is a woman of substance.
In the 2012 elections, Emma Kowa scored 91.3% of the votes in her Bo District Constituency. She got the highest percentage ever by an SLPP MP in those elections and nationwide. She was only beaten in percentage of votes scored by Tonkollili’s Mabinty Fornah, who scored 94.5% of votes in her constituency.
Throughout her two terms in Parliament, Emma Kowa was a reliable activist for gender equality and empowerment of women.
By being elevated to such a high position, Emma Kowa becomes the second ever female politician to head the regional operations of a major political party in Sierra Leone.
Diana Konomany (Photo), the current APC Eastern Regional Chairman, is the first woman ever to hold such high office. Diana is now joined in such historic trailblazing by Emma Kowa.
Congratulations to Mrs. Emma Kowa-Jalloh. This is an appointment worth celebrating by women, no matter their individual political persuasion.
Ladies, we will continue to push the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (GE-WE) momentum higher and higher in Sierra Leone.
We now patiently sit and wait to see how seriously the various political party leaders are going to take the importance of giving their party symbols to their capable female members, so as to enable MORE WOMEN to contest parliamentary seats in SAFE CONSTITUENCIES within the traditional political strongholds of their respective parties.
Indicative data around the world shows that more women in politics means better politics, and also means faster development.
In Sierra Leone, women make up more than 52% of the registered voters. Gender equality and women empowerment is definitely going to be on the campaign agenda in the coming 2018 Elections in Sierra Leone.
You can watch Emma Kowa speaking about women empowerment in Sierra Leone here:
Frighteningly nauseating, yet of tremendous interest to a world seemingly distracted by crisis-fatigue elsewhere. I agree, Sierra Leone’s fledgling democracy needs protection. But from who?
PEOPLE’S DEMOCRATIC LEAGUE
5th January, 2018
FOR THE ATTENTION OF:
1. His Excellency DONALD TRUMP
President of the United States of America
The White House, Washington
c/o U.S. Embassy in Freetown.
2. Her Excellency THERESA MAY
Prime Minister of Britain
10 Dawning Street, London
c/o British High Commission in Freetown.
3. His Excellency Dr. MUHAMMADU BUHARI
President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
Aso Rock, Freetown.
c/o Nigerian High Commission in Freetown.
4. His Excellency ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
Secretary-General of the United Nations
U.N. Headquarters, New York. USA
c/o United Nations Development Programme
Country Office for Sierra Leone.
Subject: “CALL FOR ACTION TO SAVE SIERRA LEONE’S BABY DEMOCRACY”.
I have been directed by members and supporters of the People’s Democratic League (PDL) to address this humble letter to Your Excellencies in the light of the discrimination, immorality and injustice associated with the registration of political parties in Sierra Leone.
We ask Your Excellencies most respectfully to speak out and take necessary action to help save our country’s baby democracy, which is currently threatened by the unjust, diabolic and hate filled activities of the office of the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC), under Justice Patrick Hamilton against the PDL and other political Movements that have been issued with provisional certificates and gazetted.
Your Excellencies would agree with the PDL that the registration and regulation of the activities of political parties in Sierra Leone rest in the hands of the PPRC. But the PPRC under Justice Patrick Hamilton, we want to intimate Your Excellencies, is nothing but a tool used by dictators, wealth looters and traitors to trample upon the human rights and democratic freedoms of Sierra Leoneans.
We want to restate here that attempt by the PPRC to flaw the current electoral process is not in the interest of Sierra Leone, its neighbours or the international community. Any attempt to trample upon the human rights and democratic freedoms of the PDL will be resisted and we will explore all civilized means to defend our constitutional rights to vote and be voted for in national elections of our country.
We also reserve the right to defend our constitutional right to form and register political party of ours and to contest for national elections in Sierra Leone. We know the PPRC hatred for the PDL is politically motivated and this will not augur well for the development of the country’s democracy. We know also that political parties are indispensable for making democracy work and deliver in any civilized nation like Sierra Leone.
The PDL was created in 1986 by a group of concerned, conscious and forward-looking Sierra Leoneans who shared common views and ideas and want to translate those views and ideas for the happiness of all Sierra Leoneans everywhere on earth. Our clamour and struggle for democracy was dated as far back as thirty-two years ago. At that time we did not hide behind any curtains to make known our opposition to the dictatorial politics of the then one party state.
We had championed the call for the total abolition of the obnoxious one party politics and return to multiparty politics and democracy. That was at the height of the one party state when even the thought of opening one’s mouth to comment on political matters was considered treasonable offence that carried death penalty.
Despite all odds, we boldly and bravely stood up and challenged the status quo and urged compatriots to engage in contemporary political thought in line with events in many parts of the world which were fighting against dictatorial regimes.
The environment was not as friendly then as it looks now. People were frightened and lived in fear. But that was the time we stood up to save Sierra Leone from further destruction and devastation at the hands of morally and democratically bankrupt politicians.
The People’s Democratic League is a peaceful, social, democratic and grassroots political Movement that has applied through the PPRC for registration to become a full-fledged political party for Sierra Leone. The political party registration process which we started since August 17, 2016 is yet to be completed with the PPRC acting on the dictates of certain political parties, tactfully trying to disenfranchise the PDL and its members and trample on our right to participate in the ongoing election process in the country.
We have tried by peaceful, democratic and civilized means to prick the conscience of the PPRC, whose responsibility to issue final certificate of registration to the PDL and create a level playing field for all political Movements wanting to participate in the electoral process is fully laid on its (PPRC) lap no matter who constitute or appoints membership to the Commission.
The politically-motivated and hate filled decision by the Justice Hamilton’s PPRC to delay issuing PDL’s final certificate was not entirely unexpected. However, the manner in which it is done and the questionable reason given for the delay underscores the PPRC’s weak commitment to democracy and it’s subservient to the tastes and designs of the enemies of the Sierra Leonean people.
Given the importance attached to the proposed March 2018 elections, Your Excellencies should make Sierra Leone a high priority for the next two months. Your Excellencies should step up efforts to encourage a fair, transparent, peaceful and credible election in Sierra Leone. While the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) provides funding for the activities of the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC), the world body could do more. With only sixty-two days left for holding general elections, we believe Your Excellencies still have time to engage.
A visit by representative of the British Government and Commonwealth to Sierra Leone, for instance would be a powerful signal of greater concern. The British Government should also exert pressure to bear on the PPRC to issue all final certificates to the already gazetted political parties, so that they can participate in the proposed March elections. Britain should also actively encourage the leaders in the United States, France, Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, the EU Commission, African Union and ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) to step up their calls and support for a peaceful, democratic, transparent, free and credible elections in Sierra Leone.
With the above, we suggest that Your Excellencies take the following steps as a warning:
1. Underscore Your Excellencies concern about attempt by the Justice Hamilton’s PPRC to undermine the democratic process in the country by the Commission’s selective justice in the issuing of political party certificates to political Movements.
2. Demand for the immediate and unconditional release of all final political party registration certificates to political Movements that have already been gazetted.
3. Urge the National Electoral Commission (NEC) in Freetown to announce a realistic and feasible election timetable and ensure that no qualified Sierra Leonean is prevented from participating in the electoral process.
4. Reaffirm the international community’s intention to monitor the electoral process closely.
5. Announce the imposition of visa bans on anyone who is involved in vote rigging or election-related violence and that such ban should be extended to their spouses and children, including those studying abroad.
6. Strongly encourage the United Nations Security Council to undertake similar sanctions and actions through the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague against those merchants of violence and individuals who undermine the Sierra Leonean peace and democratic process.
The Justice Hamilton’s PPRC is making Sierra Leone a mockery and laughing stock as the international community wonders why the PPRC has to discriminate and disenfranchise the PDL whose membership abounds in every corner of Sierra Leone. We are not unaware that Your Excellencies are currently busy with the situations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Libya; we believe also that Your Excellencies cannot afford the luxury to let Sierra Leone off the list of Your Excellencies foreign policy priorities.
The world needs to accelerate its attention to Sierra Leone, particularly during this time of electoral process, and to continue to clearly signal its great concerns about the direction in which our failed politicians and corrupt officials are drifting the country.
The PDL owes its humble beginning from the shame and disgrace brought to the Sierra Leonean people by failed leadership and bad governance. We put God Almighty first in our activities and it’s the aim of the PDL to lead Sierra Leone towards a God fearing nation. The PDL will be receiving financial support from well-wishers and we rely on the support and solidarity of the people. We shall remain inclusive in all our activities by giving opportunity to all Sierra Leoneans, especially the poor, women and people with disabilities.
We want to assure Your Excellencies that in as much as we, in the PDL condemn all acts of violence, we would be very careful to ensure that whatever we do in a democracy is in tandem with democratic norms and not the contrary. This speaks of our concern about the government’s decision to continue with the state of emergency, which declared and imposed in 2014 ostensibly to contain the spread of the then Ebola pandemic.
This decision amounts to nothing but political intimidation and act of cowardice which stands condemned because it poses dangerous threat to the democratic process.
We close by telling Your Excellencies frankly that no society makes progress in an environment dominated by politics of intimidation, incitement, hate speeches and rude tribalism. Degeneration, confusion, chaos, and complete social anomie will result.
Social uprising is the fruit to be harvested in any society characterized by utter injustice in all facets of life, social, economic, legal and political. We wonder what kind of legacy the Justice Hamilton’s PPRC may want to leave for Sierra Leoneans.
We thank Your Excellencies for your kind intervention to save Sierra Leone’s democracy.
Alimamy Bakarr Sankoh
Founder, Leader and National Chairman
People’s Democratic League (PDL)
For and on behalf of PDL members and supporters