Sierra Leone’s opposition SLPP reacts to the declared election results

25 November 2012


President Koroma was hurriedly sworn in last Friday evening as the president of Sierra Leone, just hours following the announcement of his victory at the polls by the Chief Electoral Commissioner – Christiana Thorpe.

But the country’s opposition parties are refusing to accept the results and more importantly, the parliamentary and local council elections results are yet to be announced.

Sources close to the Chief Electoral Commissioner say that whilst president Koroma has been declared victorious in the presidential balloting, counting of the parliamentary ballots is proving more complex, and that the opposition SLPP has won the control of parliament by a small majority.

Local councils and parliamentary results will be announced no later than Tuesday, 27 November.

Less than forty-eight hours before the announcement of the official election results, the Sierra Leone Telegraph predicted that the ruling APC party of Dr. Ernest Koroma had won almost 90% of the popular votes in his northern and Freetown constituencies, partly due to electoral malpractice.

But the sad reality is that APC has won the 2012 presidential election because of the power of tribalism, rather than the party’s performance in office during the last five years.

The demographics of the country, especially Freetown, in terms of migration and population growth, is heavily skewed towards the northern tribes.

This has significant consequences for electoral outcomes in Sierra Leone, where everything is determined by tribal lineage.

There is little doubt now that the opposition SLPP has some very serious thinking and strategising to do, if they are to win the 2017 elections.

The question of regional and tribal representation within the SLPP’s rank and file, its Executive Council, and more importantly – its choice of presidential candidate, must be opened for discussion, as and when the party conducts its autopsy into the 2012 defeat.

But analysts believe that, as long as the country’s tribal and regional demographic pattern remain as it is and worse – continues to grow, SLPP will find it almost impossible to win an election in Sierra Leone.

The official results announced last Friday by the National Electoral Commissioner, show that the APC’s Ernest Bai Koroma won 58.7%, while the SLPP’s Maada Bio polled 37.4% of the popular votes.

But what is more important, and perhaps confirms the allegations of serious electoral malpractice and ethnic bias, are the pictures painted by the detailed constituency results, as follows:
  District/Region APC APC% SLPP SLPP% Others Others%
1 Kailahun 26331 22.6 85525 73.3 4784 4.1
2 Kenema 39180 18.7 163303 77.9 7127 3.4
3 Kono 67238 58.2 42912 37.1 5436 4.7
  Eastern Region 132749 30.0% 291740 66.0% 17348 3.9%
4 Bo 36575 16.7 169254 77.1 13611 6.2
5 Pujehun 10565 15.5 50796 74.7 6664 9.8
6 Bonthe 7667 11.7 52762 80.6 5041 7.7
7 Moyamba 28703 26.2 71587 65.3 9318 8.5
  Southern Region 83510 18.1% 344399 74.5% 34633 7.5%
  South/East 216259 23.9% 636139 70.3% 51981 5.7%
8 Bombali 176023 93.2 8249 4.4 4499 2.4
9 Kambia 88597 82 14083 13 5417 5
10 Koinadugu 89282 86.4 8333 8.1 5658 5.5
11 Portloko 182761 90.2 11329 5.6 8497 4.2
12 Tonkolili 145479 92.6 6864 4.4 4680 3
  Northern Region 682142 89.8% 48858 6.4% 28751 3.8%
13 Western Rural 101409 74.3 31874 23.4 3133 2.3
14 Western Urban 315071 71.4 120646 27.3 5745 1.3
  Western Area 416480 72.1% 152520 26.4% 8878 1.5%
  North/West 1098622 82.1% 201378 15.1% 37629 2.8%
  Overall 1314881 58.7% 837517 37.4% 89330 4.0%

Hence the opposition parties are strengthening their call for the Supreme Court to look into the allegations of electoral fraud and other malpractices, not limited to the stuffing of ballot boxes by the ruling APC party.

Many observers are asking why the international election observers are not making the same allegations of electoral malpractice. An official close to the SLPP presidential candidate – Maada Bio, told the Sierra Leone Telegraph that:

“The international observers are just too much in hurry to leave the country and return home for a quiet life. They are worried that violence may erupt, should they make statements of serious malpractices, which may incite the ruling APC party, who many believe have amassed military grade weapons to make the country ungovernable, should the results go against them”.   

The presidential candidate of the main opposition SLPP – Julius Maada Bio, has maintained his position regarding the 2012 elections results, which he said, he will never accept just as long as there is evidence of electoral malpractice.

Yesterday November 2012, at the party’s offices in Freetown, the SLPP’s General Secretary – Sulaiman Banja Tejan – Sie, issued their latest statement outlining the party’s plan of action.

This is what it says:

“The Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) notes with utter dismay, the announcement by the Chairperson of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) on 23 November 2012, of the result of the Presidential Elections held on 17th November 2012.

“The Chairperson of NEC made the announcement despite the fact that the SLPP had brought to the attention of NEC, international observers and the general public, its concerns about the incidences of systemic and widespread irregularities, malpractices and injustices that occurred on polling day, which undermined the credibility of the results.

“It will be recalled that in earlier Press Releases, the SLPP had made it known that unless appropriate and satisfactory remedial action was taken by NEC to address these concerns, it would be inclined not to accept the result of such a rogue election. 

“In the circumstances, therefore, the SLPP is convening an emergency meeting of its National Executive Council (NEC) on Tuesday, 27 November 2012 at the Party’s National Headquarters in Freetown, to determine its reaction to the events that have occurred.

“In the meantime, the SLPP is calling upon all its members, supporters and sympathisers to continue to remain calm and peaceful and to refrain from any action that might bring the Party into disrepute.

“Any person who is the victim of any acts of provocation, intimidation or violence should report the perpetrators immediately to the nearest Police Station and to the nearest SLPP Party Office.

But sceptics believe that very little, if anything, will come out of the opposition parties’ call for judicial review into the conduct of the 2012 elections.

In 2007, the SLPP launched a similar appeal and court action, which took over four years to be heard, without a positive outcome.

The conclusion of that court action was seen as a slap in the face of justice, as the culprit – the country’s National Electoral Commission’s Chairman – Christiana Thorpe, was not only rewarded with a massive pay rise by president Koroma just two months prior to the 2012 elections, but was reappointed to yet again oversee the 2012 polling.

Sierra Leone has a very long way to go in establishing a functioning society, where the rule of law, justice, equity and democratic freedoms pervade everything, without tribal lineage and patronage getting in the way.   

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