Sierra Leone Telegraph: 28 June 2020:
Speculations are growing across the political divide in Sierra Leone, after a leading pro SLPP government newspaper – Global Times, published a story recently stating that the next general and presidential elections will be held in 2024 – not 2023 as expected.
According to the Constitution of Sierra Leone, national, mayoral and local election cycle come round every five years. Elections were last held in Sierra Leone in 2018.
It will be recalled that the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) Candidate, Brig. (Rtd) Julius Maada Bio, and the All Peoples Congress (APC) Candidate, Dr. Samura Matthew Wilson Kamara, emerged first and second respectively, during the first round of the fiercely contested presidential election held on 7 March 2018.
As no candidate obtained the required 55 per cent votes for an outright victory in the first round of the presidential election, a run-off took place on 27 March 2018 between Maada Bio and Samura Kamara.
The result of the run-off was very close. The Sierra Leone People’s Party received 51.8 percent of the votes cast, narrowly defeating Samura Kamara of the governing All People’s Congress Party, who won 48.2 percent, according to the Electoral Commission.
Two years on, there are questions as to whether the next elections will be held in 2023.
According to media speculations in Sierra Leone and report by the pro-SLPP government media, the next Parliamentary and Presidential elections may be held in 2024, which opposition supporters say will tantamount to breach of constitutional provisions.
But SLPP supporters and many in the inner circle of the party, say that because of the current covid-19 pandemic, elections cannot be held in 2023 They argue that the late President Tejan Kabba of the SLPP was elected in 1996 and his first term was to have ended in 2001 for elections to be conduct in the same year. However, that after almost a year in office, in 1997 he was overthrown by the military and fled to Guinea, where he spent a year before his reinstatement by the UN and ECOWAS. Hence, elections were held in 2002 instead of 2001.
Likewise, they say that the former President Ernest Bai Koroma of the APC who was re-elected in 2012, should have held elections in 2017, but that because of the 2014/2015 Ebola pandemic was unable to call those elections in 2017. Elections were instead held a year later – in 2018.
By using the precedent set by both former presidents Kabbah and Koroma respectively, the SLPP are now saying that elections cannot be held in 2023.
They argue that president Bio was elected in March 2018; and in March 2020, the country was hit by the coronavirus pandemic which led to a public health emergency and closure of schools, banning of public gathering, and suspension of all political activities in the country.
But will president Bio honour and respect the election cycle as laid down in the constitution?
Fierce political debates are expected on this thorny issue, once covid has ended and normality returns. Until then, the SLPP government has huge economic challenges it is yet to address, including the very high levels of unemployment across the country, declining foreign investments, and falling export revenue.
Since coming to power in 2018, president Bio’s government has received over $500 million of loans and forerign aid, despite complaining about the lack of revenue to run the country’s affairs.
Recently, his government received IMF and World Bank suport of over $270 million to help respond to the economic impact of the covid pandemic. The people of Sierra Leone will therefore be looking for results, including improvements in their standards of living in 2021 and 2022.
Following a wave of cabinet reshuffle and sackings, there have been changes in ministerial leadership.
These are the people now at the helm of president Bio’s government, helping to steer his government into the ‘promised land’ of the New Direction:
Julius Maada Bio – President, Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh – Vice-President; Professor David J. Francis – Chief Minister; Nabeela F. Tunis – Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Deputy Minister Solomon Jamiru; Jacob Jusu Saffa – Minister of Finance, Deputy Ministers: Dr. Patricia Nyanga Laverley, Shek Ahmed Fantamadi Bangura; Priscilla Schwartz – Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Deputy Minister: Umaru Napoleon Koroma; Dr. David Moinina Sengeh –
Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, Deputy Minister: Vacant.
Dr Alpha T. Wurie – Minister of Health and Sanitation, Deputy Ministers: Dr. Anthony Augustine Sandi, Dr Amara Jambai; David Maurice Panda-Noah – Minister of Internal Affairs, Deputy Minister: Lahai Lawrence Leema; Brig. (Rtd.) Kellie Conteh – Minister of Defence, Deputy Minister: Col. (Rtd.) Muana Brima Massaquoi; Kabineh M. Kallon – Minister of Transport and Aviation, Deputy Minister: Sadiq Silla; Dr. Denis Sandy – Minister of Lands and Housing, Deputy Minister: Rex Bhonapha.
Mohamed Bangura – Minister of Youth Affairs, Deputy Minister Sports: Kai Lawrence Mbayo; Denis K. Vandi – Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Deputy Ministers: Samking Koihinah Braima, Dr Abu Bakarr Karim; Ambassador Foday Yumkella – Minister of Political and Public Affairs, Deputy Minister: Amara Kallon; Prof. Foday Jaward – Minister of the Environment, Deputy Minister: Steven Syril James Jusu.
Dr. Edward Hinga Sandy – Minister of Trade and Industry, Deputy Minister: Rev. Abraham James Sesay-Jones; Alhaji Kanja Sesay – Minister of Energy, Deputy Minister: Dr. Eldred Tunde Taylor; Mohamed Swaray – Minister of Information and Communication, Deputy Minister: Mamadi Gobeh-Kamara; Emma Kowa – Minister of Marine Resources, Deputy Minister: Ibrahim Turay.
Minister of Labour and Social Security (vacant), Deputy Minister: Lansana Mohamed Dumbuya; P.K. Lansana – Minister of Water Resources, Deputy Minister: Namatulai Bah-Chang; Baindu Dassama – Minister of Social Welfare, Deputy Minister: Mohamed Haji-Kella; Manti Tarawally – Minister of Gender and Children’s Affairs.
Dr Francis Mustapha Kai-Kai – Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Deputy Minister: Dr. Robert Tamba Michael Chakanda; Prof. Aiah Gbakima – Minister of Technical and Higher Education, Deputy Minister: Dr. Turad Senesie; Peter Bayuku Konteh – Minister of Works and Public Assets, Deputy Minister: Philip Tetema Tondeneh; Foday Rado Yokie – Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources, Deputy Minister: Evelyn Daphne Blackie.
Tamba Lamina – Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Deputy Minister: Melrose Kargbo; Memunatu B. Pratt – Minister of Tourism and Culture, Deputy Minister: William Illawim Kongkatee Robinson; Mohamed K. Alie – Resident Minister, South; Andrew Fatorma – Resident Minister, East; Abu Abu Koroma – Resident Minister, North; Abu Abu Koroma – Resident Minister, North West; Francess Piagie Alghali – Minister of State, Vice President’s Office.
Just for the record Burundi and Malawi have just had their elections. Newly-elected president Evariste Ndayishimiye has decided to turn this once war torn country’s fortunes with similar size population like Sierra Leone, with a leaner cabinet composed of a Prime Minister and fifteen cabinet ministers. If you compare that to President Bio’s Sierra leone, those fifteen men and women are just the ones you need to speak to for them to put in a word for you, then for you to able to raise your concerns to local Member of Parliament. These hangers on I call them, also get money from the local MP. Money meant for their constituency development. And there has been another election during this pandemic. Malawi has just sworn president Lazarus Chakwera that defeated the incumbent president Peter Mutharika in Tuesday’s polls.
These two countries are facing the same COVID19 pandemic. So why should Sierra Leone extend its voting to 2024, blaming it on COVID19? And looking at the cabinet of president Bio, is like too many chiefs, not enough Indians. Cut them to size. Is just an other form of waste of public money. We need to be investing in infrastructure, education, agriculture, health, paying civil servants proper wages, not trapped in government poverty work, and reform the electoral commission, stop tinkering with the constitution, respect citizen right, and above all else respect the rule of law.
Reform the judiciary. Because if the judiciary was strong, even if someone come with such bewildering ideas, we will say crack on, we will see you in court. With the firm knowledge the judiciary will back the constitution. Not the present form our judiciary is constituted.
If Poland, and Iceland can hold their elections ,last week in the middle of the COVID19 pandemic,in honour of their constitution, I don’t see the reason or reasons why an election slated for 2023, should be postponed for an other year. What about the November US presidential elections, is it going to be postponed? No way. Come to think of it, the United States, is one of the countries with the highest death rates from COVID19 in the world. Unless the people proposing this idea, know something that we don’t know. Maybe after COVID19, the anti democratic forces pandemic is waiting in the wings to hit Sierra Leone in 2023. It is bad for democracy, and above all else endangers the fragile peace in the country.
Already, political tension in the country is all time high. The irresponsible people dreaming of such ideas, should think about the consequences of their ideas. The easiest way president Bio can win re- election, is to spur economic growth. The wheels of democracy never stop turning, unless there is unseen disaster like war, plague, or military take over. The government in power should honour the constitution. We should not go back but move forward and nurture the fruit of democracy that has taken root in our country.
When Sierra Leone adopted the one party state status in 1978 under the old APC government of Siaka Stevens, some parliamentary members of the then SLPP party were forced to swallow a bitter pill and support the abolition of the the democratic institutions that had govern our country since independence. The difference this time, the present APC and smaller parties, working together appear to offer strong opposition to the opportunistic advisers surrounding our President. Our president is surrounded by anti democratic forces and they might just force his hands to go along with their ill conceived ideas. If they say they are going by the old APC rule book, why not go for the full hug and adopt the one party state status by stealth? Majority of Sierra Leoneans knows better to go down that road.
In politics it’s always good to keep your opponents speculating but based on the current development that is taking place in less than 3 years , my prediction will be a landslide victory for the new direction government during the next election just like during the time of late President Kabba. Now the pace of positive development continue to give the APC party sleepless nights.
Yes. Pace of development on paper and words. Where is the “Koidu Institute of Technology”, “The Health Diagnostic Centre”, etc that was promised Mr Alusine Fallay? Forgive me if I got the names of these projects wrong. The time lapse for the realization of these projects have made me completely forgotten their names. Sorry about that.
President Bio and the Bio SLPP has promised a lot of things in less than 3 wasteful years that have yet to materialize. Am I right to say, it’s just “Jack of all trades and master of none, Mr Alusine Fallay? Even Mr Anthony Moiba, now an “SLPP” fan according to some rumours will agree with me. God bless Mr Alusine Fallay and Mr Anthony Moiba.
Loads of Ministers and Deputies. How does the government fund their salaries at a time when the economy is in a very bad shape? Nice, but incomplete ministerial positions in my view. Would it not have been a very good idea, if the President could have added the position of Deputy Chief Minister or a Minister of State, Chief Minister’s Office? Very unfair to the Chief Minister.
My advice to the President is this – reduce the number of ministers by combining certain departments. For example, the ministry of Finance and development under one minister and one deputy. Instead of six individuals, you have two, thereby saving millions of leones. God help President Bio consider reducing the number of cabinet ministers to save money for other pressing national projects.
If indeed all the current regime does is to emulate all actions and bad precedent set by their predecessor, why is the slogan of the PAOPA call the ‘NEW DIRECTION’? Forgive me but, are these people highly educated as they claim to be? Is the word NEW in any shape or form synonymous to doing things as was done in the past? I frankly do not get it. The sickening aspect of all this, is the army of bootlickers parading themselves on cyberspace on a daily basis, chanting praising hymns, reflective of their inferiority characters, with an inability to discern the economical ramifications our poor citizens continue to endure, due to unpatriotic actions and policies being safeguarded by their demi-gods.
Mere speculation. The Global times is not the official mouthpiece of the government. This article is designed to irk opposition politicians.
What an amount of ministers and deputy ministers for a small country like sierra leone; with an income of about 6 million/year or more and the state of emergency up to 2024?
And the ruthless authoritarian shark, again swims in a strange, different direction, restlessly, changing its intended course; diving,and plunging, here and there in fear and paranoia, tormented, exhausted and suspicious; paralyzed by illusions of being shackled and chained, because of the wickedness he has perpetrated against the innocent.(lol)
He now knows, for sure, that he has nowhere to run and hide in this messy, mucky, complicated political pond he has wickedly, made muddy and grimy by his own inadequacies; so now in desperation, they hopelessly try a new shadowy, dubious,unscrupulous trick in order to hold on power…Hahahaha – tell those maleficent oracles of yours buddy, that Stargazers, the mediators between the glorious light and eerie, ghastly darkness, have now declared emphatically…that is never, ever gonna happen.