US ambassador navigates Sierra Leone’s electoral quagmire: A call for Justice

Sylvanus Fornah Koroma (what a man): Sierra Leone Telegraph: 13 May 2024:

The US Ambassador to Freetown in his  interview on Radio Democracy (FM 98.1) on Thursday, May 9, 2024, in Freetown, successfully sparked genuine discussions and conversations among Sierra Leoneans and other concerned persons inside and outside of Sierra Leone on the issue of the feasibility or non-feasibility of a rerun of the June 2023 elections, including runoff or fresh elections.

A rerun election is one of the three possible scenarios that might arise in the second election under section 42(2)(e) and (f) of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone.

The other two scenarios are runoff elections and fresh elections. Rerun elections, also known as repeat elections, occur when the initial or first election is invalidated due to irregularities, fraud, or other legal reasons.

The American Ambassador provided a clear and insightful perspective on why a rerun of June 2023 may not be a realistic scenario, anchoring his argument on the expiration of the 7-day timeframe after the declaration of results of the presidential election pursuant to section 54(1) of the Public Elections Act, 2022 (PEA, 2022), during which the elections for the presidency can be challenged.

The Ambassador left out the crucial points of the Scope and Terms of Reference of the Tripartite Committee in his responses during that interview. However, I am focusing on the issues of legislation and accountability raised by the Ambassador’s interview, which appear to be more productive and aligned with the legal framework and practical considerations  that the interview has generated in the public discourse regarding the outcome of the Tripartite Committee’s report and recommendation(s).

I believe that the American Ambassador has failed to holistically view the electoral laws of Sierra Leone when he said, “The timeframe in which the electoral results could be challenged in court has long expired.” The Ambassador further went on to say, “I don’t think talking about invalidation of results or a rerun of the elections is helpful because it’s not realistic.”

At first hearing, one may be tempted to say that the American Ambassador’s assertion on the non-feasibility of rerun elections for the June 2023 elections in Sierra Leone is flawed. But upon further reflection, one would not totally dismiss every bit of the Ambassador’s comments.

In fact, even though I strongly believe that the Ambassador should have refrained from commenting on the rerun to avoid prejudicing the outcome of the Tripartite Committee’s work, his statement or response has turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it is now bringing clarity to the issues surrounding ‘the big elephant in the room.’

I agree with the Ambassador’s understanding of the Sierra Leone electoral laws that the challenge in court is the forum that would look at the invalidation of the electoral results.

I also partially agree with the Ambassador that under the Sierra Leone electoral laws, there are specific timeframes within which the Presidential election can be challenged or petitioned.

However, what I do not agree with the American Ambassador on, is when he said that the time for the challenge or petitioning has expired. Certainly, the electoral laws of Sierra Leone are very instructive regarding petitioning or challenging electoral results for which the National Returning Officer of the Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone (ECSL) is mandated by law, as his duty and function, to publish and gazette the already tallied, computed, and certified results, as per law provides, from which he declared or announced the results. This is pursuant to section 52(b) of the PEA, 2022.

The law, which provides for publishing and gazetting the already tallied, computed, and certified results, is further re-emphasized in section 93 of the PEA, 2022.

The publishing and gazetting of the results by the National Returning Officer and ECSL are very important duties and functions of the electoral process, and the failure to perform such duties and functions renders section 54(1) of the PEA, 2022, redundant. This is so because the gazetted results are the official results of the elections, and until evidence of the official results is provided, the June 2023 elections are incomplete.

Furthermore, there cannot be any invalidation of the election results where there is no official result (i.e. the gazetted results) against which the court will use to determine the irregularities, fraud, or other legal reasons.

So, the National Returning Officer and the ECSL’s blatant refusal to publish and gazette the election results of the June 2023 elections, is a clear manifestation of corruption with impunity that must be stopped, if Sierra Leone is to achieve justice.

In one of my recent publications on the same subject, I pointed to several legislations on the ECSL to showcase how the National Returning Officer, who doubles as the Chief Electoral Commissioner, and triples as the head of ECSL, and ECSL are involved in abuse of office, abuse of position, and Public officer using his office for advantage which are all crimes under the Anti-Corruption Act, 2008 and its Amendments in sections 42, 43, and 44 respectively.

On that note, I encourage Sierra Leoneans to join me in calling on the attention of the Anti-Corruption Commission to do its long-overdue duty and avoid hiding behind its immunity as stated in section 20 of the said Anti-Corruption Act mentioned above.

In the interview, the American Ambassador commented on his optimism, commitment, and clarity shown by the leadership of both the government and the opposition regarding the importance of electoral reform and national unity for the progress of the country as a nation.

This progress can be achieved with justice as the centrepiece. This is doable, and I will join the American Ambassador in being equally optimistic and confident if the leadership of both parties will be courageous enough to do justice as well as do the right things that would usher in the national unity critical for the future of the country.

The possibility of a rerun of the June 2023 elections should not be discarded as it would depend on various factors, including the legal framework, the findings and recommendations of the Tripartite Committee, and the willingness of all parties to engage in such a process.

Many Sierra Leoneans know, and it is important to note that rerunning an election is a significant decision with legal and logistical implications. Therefore, discussions and negotiations among stakeholders would be necessary to determine the feasibility and conditions under which a rerun could occur, if at all.

You can watch the US ambassador speaking here:


  1. The Ambassador appears to have significant understanding of the law.

    Regardless of the outcome of the election only the judiciary can adjudicate on the validity of an election.

    Why did the APC party refused to take the matter to court????

  2. The problem with APC thinking is that the so-called tripartite committee has unlimited powers. The Ambassador clearly spoke of the “mandate” given to the committee that does not include recommending a rerun or the nullification of the election results. The tripartite committee does not have that power. This committee does not even have the power to declare that the election was rigged.

    In the first place how many APC held elections, a party that has held leadership for almost 2/3 of our independence life that are credible? When the opposition complained, we heard APC loyalists saying “go to police”!

    APC’s continued disloyalty to the country is manifested yet in their call that a body outside the laws of our country should be the final judge. APC does not believe in Sierra Leone’s sovereignty and they are bent on destroying every aspect of the country.

    Well, according to our history books, APC was born to disrupt the independence of the country. Had their leaders not sent to prison prior to April 27, 1961, the independence of Sierra Leone would have taken a different course or possibly, may not have even happened.

    This party is still bent on this line of action for their selfish ends. But the truth will prevail and God will be on the side of the peace loving people of the country.

  3. Is the American ambassador the presider/judge of the tripartite? Why is he denying the facts about a re-run when Sierra Leone’s president is illegitimate?
    This will create another space for chaos and possibly another unending conflict that will lead to war.
    The American ambassador must be very mindful of his pronouncement about the tripartite decision.

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