Sierra Leone Telegraph: 26 March 2018:
The National Grand Coalition Party (NGC) has given its qualified support for today’s court decision to hold the presidential runoff election on Saturday, 31st March 2018, as the party comes to terms with what many in Sierra Leone describe as “electoral victory stolen from the NGC at the ballot box”.
Speaking at a press conference in Freetown today, Dr Dennis Bright – the NGC chairman, said that in principle, the party is “prepared to support the conduct of the run-off following the vacation of the injunction, but on the condition that NEC would have addressed all the serious issues of malpractice and irregularities raised by most of the political parties including NGC.”
Dr Bright called on stakeholders, including the international community “to provide the necessary support and assistance conducive to a peaceful, fair, transparent and credible outcome of the process”.
The following statement was issued by the party at their press conference:
“Fellow Sierra Leoneans, members, supporters and sympathizers of the National Grand Coalition, you would recall that on March 24, 2018 the High Court of Sierra Leone granted an interim injunction against the National Electoral Commission (NEC) restraining the commission from continuing preparations for holding the run-off elections between the SLPP and APC.
Today, March 26, 2018, we are aware that the same High Court has lifted the interim injunction making way for the run-off elections to be conducted tomorrow, March 27, 2018.
It is significant to note that the majority of political parties including the two parties involved in the run-off have reported gross irregularities and malpractices in the conduct of the March 7 elections. Indeed, it was on account of these irregularities that a member of the APC acting in his individual capacity sought an injunction to enable, among other things, a “forensic” audit on the entire process.
As a party, the National Grand Coalition (NGC) has also released a series of statements on the conduct of the elections as noted below:
• On March 9, 2018, following the release of just 25 percent of the results cast, the NGC released a press statement reporting a series of irregularities identified in the voting process that would require a re-count across the country.
The party wasted no time in informing the National Electoral Commission (NEC) through the office of the Chief Electoral Commissioner/National Returning Officer its observations, concerns and objections. The party has since then sent three additional letters to NEC outlining our request as mandated by law and also met with senior executives of the commission.
- At a Press Conference held on March 10, 2018, the party exposed examples of irregularities and confirmed that after further investigations, the said irregularities were not only systemic but widespread.
The party requested specifically for a re-count in Bo, Kailahun, Kenema, Bombali, Tonkolili, Port Loko Districts and in the Western Area. Unfortunately, our request was not given due consideration for reasons best known to the Commission.
- In our opinion, the NGC stands out as the biggest victim of the irregularities and malpractices that have marred the elections in all the regions. However, consistent with our internal processes and our fundamental principles of putting Country First, we embarked on a nationwide consultation with our membership and stakeholders to decide our next course of action.
This led to the release of a statement on the party’s position on the anticipated presidential run-off elections made on March 21, 2018.
- Our position was clear: while encouraging its members and supporters to put Sierra Leone first and make their own individual choices as to who to vote for, the party decided not to endorse either of the two parties involved in the run-off.
- Furthermore, since March 9, the leadership of the NGC has met and engaged members of the international community including election observers to share their views on the conduct of the elections and to warn against premature pronouncement on the credibility of the elections. It has now become clear that a significant portion of the irregularities occurred after the casting of ballots between the polling stations and the tally centres.
- Given that the election results have been discredited by all the major political parties in the country on the basis of evidence of malpractice everywhere, our nation is now confronted with the embarrassment of accepting the results of a sham election proceeding to a run-off only to save the State.
- The leadership of the NGC would like to clearly state its position as follows:1. That in principle we are prepared to support the conduct of the run-off following the vacation of the injunction but on the condition that NEC would have addressed all the serious issues of malpractice and irregularities raised by most of the political parties including NGC.2. We call on all stakeholders including the international community to provide the necessary support and assistance conducive to a peaceful, fair, transparent and credible outcome of the process.”
You can watch Dr Yumkella speaking at the press conference today – 26 March 2018: