Sierra Leone Telegraph: 27 August 2019:
It is now over 48 hours since the cancellation of all results counted so far from the by-elections held at Freetown’s Constituency 110. The elections were marred by vandalism and violence, the likes of which have hardly been witnessed before in any polling held in Sierra Leone.
A polling station at Angola Town was attacked by thugs, who ransacked and destroyed polling materials (see video below), whilst the police looked on passively.
Who are these thugs? Are they known to the police? Why have they not been arrested and charged to court?
Commenting on this video APC strongwoman – Dr Sylvia Olayinka Blyden said: “I have identified Honourable Transport Minister Kabineh Kallon right in the morass alongside his armed Policemen. I have known ‘Arata’ (Aloish Deen-Tarawallie) very well since he was a mere teenager but after carefully studying this video, I certainly don’t see ‘Arata’ or any of his Lumley boys in this video. What I see are expensively-dressed SLPP young professionals kicking, scattering, destroying ballots and electoral materials with gross impunity in full view of the Cabinet Minister and the Police officers.”
The country’s national Electoral Commission yesterday decided to cancel all results that have been counted and tallied, following the destruction of polling materials at Angola Town.
Tonight, there are contrasting reactions from the two main political parties – the APC and SLPP, to this decision by NEC to cancel those results. Both parties are blaming each other for the mindless violence witnessed at the Angola Town polling station.
Writing in a press statement issued yesterday, Monday 26 August 2019, this is what Umaru Napoleon Koroma – the Secretary General of the ruling SLPP said:
The general public would recall that on Saturday August 24, the National Electoral Commission conducted rerun elections in Constituency 110 in the western area, as directed by the High Court in its ruling on May 31 this year.
The court negated the 2018 elections in the said Constituency due to proven electoral malpractices executed by the All Peoples Congress party. The SLPP welcomed the decision of the High Court as a mark of respect for the rule of law and integrity of the judiciary.
The public would also recall the militant posture of the main opposition APC after that decision, and their vile attempt to discredit the judiciary with series of unfounded allegations and even threatened the safety of the judges.
As a law abiding party, we organized ourselves and entered peacefully for the elections, when NEC slated a date for its conduct.
The APC which had raged that it would not take part in any election conducted by NEC under the leadership of Mr. N’fa Conteh, rescinded its earlier decision and decided to take part in the elections of Saturday August 24.
During the campaign period, they unleashed mayhem on our candidate leading to the burning of her car and destruction of other property, that case is presently pending before the magistrate court and one of the APC party members Gibril Bangura, has been sending messages publicly threatening the life of the presiding magistrate.
The election started peacefully, until elements of the main opposition APC, allegedly led by Honorable Abdul Kargbo, attempted to disrupt the smooth flow of proceedings at or around Angola Town. Honorable Abdul Kargbo and his thugs were arrested with offensive weapons and illegal ballot boxes and whisked to the Lumley Police Station.
In the melee that the APC ignited, huge sections of votes could not be accounted for. But after tallying of accessed results by our party, our candidate Josephine Jackson clearly won the elections.
The results of the polling stations at Angola Town where the APC thugs attempted to rig and disrupted the electoral process, became contentious as it amounted to over 2900 votes and would affect the overall outcome of the election.
The SLPP condemns the barbaric act of violence perpetrated by the APC, especially a Member of Parliament who should be a fine example in society. We call for the speedy prosecution of those arrested during the skirmish on Saturday August 24.
The SLPP also commends the security forces for their professionalism in curbing the planned violence of the main opposition APC and ensuring that Sierra Leoneans continue to live in peace.
The party is critically examining the decision by NEC to cancel the entire election and suggested rerun. We are convinced that our candidate should be declared winner of the elections, after all compiled results by our party show her victory. We also hold the view that the APC votes should have been annulled because of their planned and carefully executed electoral fraud.
We will communicate the outcome of our study of the NEC’s decision in due course. Meanwhile, all SLPP members are advised to stay calm and remaining peaceful. (END).
Responding to NEC’s decision to cancel the results, Alhaji Dr. Osman Foday Yansaneh – National Secretary General of the opposition APC party, blames supporters of the opposition SLPP for the destruction of the polling station at Angola Town.
He told the people of Sierra Leone and the international community, that his party “condemns the decision of the National Electoral Commission to cancel the 24th August re-run elections in Constituency 110 in the Western Area”.
Writing in a press statement issued yesterday Monday 26 August, 2019, Alhaji Dr. Osman Foday Yansaneh said:
The All Peoples Congress (APC) Party has received with utter dismay and disappointment the Press Release from the Chairman of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) cancelling the results of the 24th August 2019 re-run elections in Constituency 110 that was won by the APC.
This action by the NEC Chairperson is the highest degree of provocation and injustice and the APC will explore all options available to us to ensure that such gross abuse of power and disenfranchisement of our peaceful and law-abiding members is not allowed to continue unchecked in Sierra Leone.
All Sierra Leoneans that monitored the conduct of the elections before and during the conduct of the polls witnessed the most extreme forms of intimidation and harassment of our supporters by elements of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP).
All objective observers would attest to the fact that it was supporters of the APC that were the victims. It was also a fact that it was thugs from the SLPP led by a renowned thug nicknamed “Arata” that went on the rampage across the Constituency during polling day reaching its climax at the Sarah Modern School Polling Centre in Angola Town.
Regrettably, these attacks by SLPP thugs were done under the watchful eyes of the Sierra Leone Police and Military Officers.
Sadly, even though the police under the leadership of AIG Sovulla were kept duly informed by the leadership of the APC, instead of apprehending the perpetrator of the violence, it was Hon. Abdul Kargbo of the APC (head of the APC polling staff at the Centre) that was illegally arrested and detained at the Lumley Police Station.
This followed the arbitrary arrest from the polling lines and subsequent detention of peaceful APC supporters that had gone to the polling center to exercise their electoral franchise. To climax it all, the NEC has now, without the legal authority to do so, cancelled the results and called for a re-run.
Sierra Leoneans (at home and abroad) and the international community would agree with us that the APC has exercised the highest degree of restraint against all odds and all forms of intimidation and threats all in an effort to sustain our much-needed peace and tranquillity.
It is now apparent that NEC in cohort with the SLP are bent on reversing the peace and democratic gains that we have all laboured to nurture and sustain.
The APC wishes to emphatically make it known that we shall not accept the verdict of NEC to illegally cancel the results that we have been able to win at huge costs to our Party, and we call on the international community and all peace-loving and patriotic Sierra Leoneans to bring pressure to bear on NEC to reverse their arbitrary decision in the best interest of peace and stability in our beloved Sierra Leone. (END).
Once again, questions are being asked as to why the police remained passive when thugs were destroying those polling materials in front of their very eyes, without making any arrest.
Is Sierra Leone police a force for good, or an accessory to a rotten political system driven by corrupt politicians?
The international community has been swift in condemning the violence that took place at the polls last Saturday. This is a statement issued collectively by the British High Commission, the Delegation of the European Union, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, Embassy of the Republic of Ireland, and the Embassy of the United States: