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Archive for November, 2012

Pay Day Justice

Friday, November 30th, 2012

By Ahmed Ojullah Bangura : 

Martin Luther King once said “There comes a time when silence is a betrayal”. Apparently, after two decades of silence on account of a despicable inhuman action, justice for the ‘lost generation’ of 29 political victims has commenced in Sierra Leoneon the 16th November, 2012. The patriotic people ofSierra Leone presided over the matter which the executives of past and present ‘democratic’ gurus have deliberately ignored. The verdict was passed and the accused was sentenced to 5 years in political wander pending his unpatriotic appeal that will send him to life political wilderness.

In one of my previous articles titled “PAY DAY DEMOCRACY” I informed the audience that SLPP made a political pay back to their presidential candidate for ‘good’ work done between the 29th April, 1992 and 1996. But it was a political miscalculation by the party I cast my vote for in 1996 and 2002 not as a member of the party but as a patriotic Sierra Leonean. Two decades later, unlike the SLPP who paid Maada Bio for his role in executing, mutilating, and probably the extinction of the victims’ bodies I have referred to as the ‘April 29, ‘29’ victims, the patriotic citizens of Sierra Leone have made their first retributive justice by paying back a ‘political cheque’ to Maada Bio for his inhuman role in the despicable execution of beloved mothers and fathers, sons, brothers, sisters and service men in a manner which his mouth is ashamed to confess.

 

Now, Maada Bio defeated than ever is using a ‘pendulum of fear’ to intimidate the atmosphere of peace amid rich discoveries of mineral resources, investment, infrastructure and economic transition. Maada and the core of the SLPP that elected or selected him are presumed to be living in the ‘Old school’ ideology of violence, intimidation and extermination. They have strong belief that can only be mitigated by retributive justice across the boarders ofSierra Leone. It is a ‘political algebra’ for Bio and his ‘under-educated’ solicitors and executive members to imagine that they can apply the ‘Foday Sankoh strategy’ of holding people in fear and intimidation. This group of ‘Old school theorists’ should also know that only fools can not change even when evidence of truth that works against their belief is presented. This may be as a result of extremely uncomfortable cognitive dissonance between their old ideologies and new realities.

 

But there is always a word for the ‘wise fool’ who may choose not to follow the path of destruction. Lenin once said that “despair is typical of those who do not understand the causes of evil, see no way out, and are incapable of struggle”. I hope Bio and his ‘Old school’ boys can reason and accept the ‘check of justice’ for another 5 years as a freeman in spite of the April 29, ‘29’ political catastrophe  before it takes him to an unimaginable destination. Bio, be wise to know that pay comes after work done. When you were a ‘military boy’ you received pay for ‘service’ to the country; when you have become a ‘politician’ you have received pay for work done in executing peoples sons and daughters. You chose to work for this political day of justice. You have no one to blame, Maada Bio. I would suggest you confess and renew your mind or else doom awaits you. The time has come for the weed to be separated from the wheat.

Long Live peaceful and patriotic Sierra Leoneans!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

UN calls upon political parties to accept elections results and asks international community and development partners to continue supporting Sierra Leone

Friday, November 30th, 2012

 

KABS KANU  reports from the UN Security Council :

Today Friday November 30, 2012  was another day of triumph for Sierra Leone in the United Nations. The UN Security Council held a special session titled : “The Situation in Sierra Leone. ” During this all-important session, the UN Security Council commended Sierra Leone for the conduct and successful conclusion of Presidential, district and local elections , in particular acknowledging the important role played by Sierra Leone’s electoral institutions , political parties, civil society groups , international partners , and domestic and international observers. The Security Council also welcomed the formal announcement of polling results from the National Electoral Commission and positive reports from observers on the conduct of the elections.

The Security Council has therefore called upon all political parties and candidates to accept the results and work with the Government of Sierra Leone in a constructive manner through national dialogue and reconciliation. The Council also urged all parties to resolve any grievances through the appropriate legal means in accordance with Sierra Leone’s national laws.

 

 

The Security Council also urged the international community and development partners to continue to provide coordinated and coherent support to Sierra Leone to meet its peacebuilding and development priorities .

Sierra Leone’s Deputy Permanent Representative for Legal Affairs, Ambassador Osman Keh Kamara responded with the following statement :

“Allow me Mr. President to express our thanks and appreciation for organizing this meeting on the situation in sierra Leone, and also for Council’s support for our peacebuilding efforts and democratic consolidation. In particular, we commend Council’s timely PRST and would like to reaffirm Governments commitment to peace and democratic consolidation as well as the development of Sierra Leone which will hopefully translate into visible improvement in the lives of the people of Sierra Leone. To this end, Government has expressed its willingness to work with all Sierra Leoneans irrespective of political party affiliation. President Koroma had immediately after being sworn for a second term, called on all Sierra Leoneans to put politics behind them and to come together to build sierra Leone. We look forward to working with all partners including the PBC in securing the gains already made as well as moving into a more developmental phase of peacebuilding.I thank you all for your attention.”
READ FULL SECURITY COUNCIL STATEMENT LATER


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Ambassador Osman Keh Kamara addresses Peacebuilding Fund Annual High-Level Stakeholders Meeting : November 29, 2012

Friday, November 30th, 2012

On November 29, 2012 the Deputy Permanent Representative of Sierra Leone to the United Nations, Mr. Osman Keh Kamara, delivered a statement at the Peacebuilding Fund Annual High-Level Stakeholders Meeting , held at the UN Headquarters in New York. READ THE FULL STATEMENT :

Madam Chairperson,

Allow me first to thank you for convening this Annual High-level Stakeholders Meeting, and to also thank the Secretary General, the PBC, members of the Advisory Group, and all stakeholders for their support to building a peaceful and safer world.

We are particularly pleased to participate in this pledging and partnership session of the PBF and would at the outset add our voice to encourage all partners and donors to continue investing in peace.

 

Sierra Leone was one of the first countries to be on the agenda of the Peacebuilding Commission. In the bid to address critical threats to the peace then, the country also benefited from the PBF in March 2007. This was at a time when we were faced with challenges to rebuild and create peace building structures in the aftermath of an eleven years conflict. The country was saddled with critical issues around corruption, the upcoming elections in 2007, rights issues including women’s rights, a key TRC recommendation on reparations to war victims; equally a threat to peace were issues around addressing backlog cases in the judiciary, capacity gaps in the judiciary, youth unemployment, and capacity of parliament. These issues were further compounded by a sharp fall both in local revenue generation and donor support including budgetary support. All of these were heightened by approaching Presidential and Parliamentary elections which then was seen as a test of our fledgling democracy.  An announcement on 1st March 2007 by the Secretary General of a thirty five million dollar envelope under the Peacebuilding Fund for the country could thus not have come at a better time. This initial allocation proved to be a worthwhile investment with key outcomes secured in supporting our peacebuilding priorities at the time including an exemplary election in 2007; a mechanism to reinforce respect for human rights at the national level; reparation for war victims; establishing an independent nationwide radio/TV station; creation of mechanisms for political dialogue and conflict resolution; a pilot youth employment exercise that is attracting external funding; an effective mechanism to combat corruption, and a national security office that is fully operational. We have as a result been able to establish a functional Human Rights Commission that has produced the first and second state of Human Rights Reports for Sierra Leone, a commitment we hitherto could not meet. We have increased access to justice which enabled us to clear substantial backlog cases some of which go back fifteen years. We have also created employment for some 6,000 youths, popularized the Gender Act in communities, supported the Anti-Corruption Commission in its fight against graft, and supported the reparation of war victims, the list goes on.

These projects were right from their inception nationally owned and led. Through this support, the PBF contributed to creating a sense of partnership between the government and the United Nations, the international donor community and civil society. These priority areas were to subsequently form the basis of the UN Joint Vision for Sierra Leone. This Joint Vision which is well articulated in our Agenda for Change, identified Youth Empowerment and employment, Democracy and Good Governance, Justice and Security, Capacity building for the Public Administration, and Energy as key peacebuilding elements that requires sustained international and national support measures. .

More recently, the PBC invested in empowering some independent institutions that form the backbone of Sierra Leone democracy: the political parties, traditional and religious leaders, women and youth, civil society and the media. Through PBF support, these non-state actors were able to organize themselves and engage in civic and electoral education of their constituencies ahead of the elections and when required in conflict prevention and mediation.
The PBF thus made an important contribution to the elections that Sierra Leone just held. The elections were remarkably peaceful. Importantly, through its investment, the PBF left behind independent structures that will ensure that the next electoral cycle will be even more successful.

Madam Chair,

As we celebrate another milestone in the consolidation of peace and security in Sierra Leone through the conduct of successful, violence free and credible elections, my delegation would use this opportunity to stress its appreciation to the Secretary General and the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support, member states and donors for the immense contribution the Fund has made towards laying the building blocks for sustainable peace. With your support, we are determined to do everything we can to seize the moment to build a safer and more prosperous Sierra Leone.

Throughout this period of our work, the UN in Sierra Leone led by the ERSG provided immense technical support whilst allowing us to take the lead in project selection, approval and monitoring.

Sierra Leone continues to work with the UN and other development partners in pursuit of its development agenda. The PBC, the UN and other development partners in response to the Paris Declaration on aid effectiveness have realigned their strategies with that of our second generation PRSP-“The Agenda for Change”. With the current global economic climate, the country has, like many others, been affected in its quest to attract substantial donor support for its development projects. Whilst some success have been made, there is need to address persistent critical issues relating to youth unemployment,  judicial reforms, capacity for non state actors, capacity of Public Administration, transnational organized crime,  and reparations to war victims.  These challenges have been jointly identified along with our partners in development as being critical to sustainable peace for the country. These issues also continue to threaten regional peace in the Mano River Countries (the sister Republics of Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Cote d’Ivoire).

To date, the PBF has invested more than $ 47 million in Sierra Leone.  The first instalment of $ 35 million came jointly with the PBC – it was an important contribution that signalled to Sierra Leoneans that dividends were coming with peace. Indeed, the end of hostilities comes with expectations which can be categorized into short, medium and long term. The probability of easily relapsing into conflict depends upon how adequately these expectations are addressed in a timely fashion. To consolidate the gains made so far, we should pay greater attention to how to sustain projects that are generally long term in nature as well as focusing more and more on building a strong and resilient society where citizens are free from want and fear.

 

Resource mobilization is therefore an essential and useful tool to peacebuilding. Yet this is where the PBC has failed in mobilizing resources to match funding needs of peacebuilding activities. There are important lessons to be learned from this experience, ranging from the challenges in securing the funds to operational mechanisms in disbursing and implementing projects.

Madam Chair,

Sierra Leone commends the renewed commitment of member states to Peacebuilding as articulated by distinguished representatives during the Special High-level event of the PBC held on 25 September this year. Similar commitments are amply demonstrated by the Chair and membership of the Sierra Leone Country Specific Configuration. It is only through such sustained commitment and tireless efforts that we can all be sure of building sustainable peace in countries where the PBF is currently engaged.

Let me conclude on the note that being one of the first beneficiaries of the Peacebuilding Fund has put us in a vantage position in sharing lessons learnt. The UN’s model of support to post war Sierra Leone is over the years moving us towards a success story example. Whilst we strive not to be carried all the way in this drive to improve the lives of our populations, we recognize that the critical issues which continue to threaten our peace must be addressed if we are to avoid a relapse and, if all of us are to walk tall with a success story to share. To this end, we urge all partners to fully support our transition into a more development phase by supporting us as pilot country of the “New Deal” in moving from an “Agenda for Change” to an “Agenda for Prosperity”.

Madam Chair, distinguished representatives, ladies and gentlemen, the world needs peace, Africa needs peace and Sierra Leone needs to sustain its hard won peace. Subscribing to the PBF can make this happen.

I thank you all.

 

 

 

”Ampa Ampoh!”: Sierra Leone after the announcement of the 2012 election results

Friday, November 30th, 2012

”Ampa Ampoh!”: Sierra Leone after the announcement of the 2012 election results (guest post by Mimmi Söderberg Kovacs) | Mats Utas

”Ampa Ampoh!”: Sierra Leone after the announcement of the 2012 election results (guest post by Mimmi Söderberg Kovacs)

SLPP rally with candidate Maada Bio. Courtesy by Mimmi Söderberg Kovacs

Late in the afternoon of Friday 24 November, as the sun was setting over the busy streets of downtown Freetown, the National Election Commission (NEC) of Sierra Leone called a press conference to announce the results of the Presidential Elections, ending a week of uncertainty and speculations. As anticipated by many, the sitting President Ernest Bai Koroma of the All People’s Congress (APC) secured a second term in power with almost 59 percent of the votes cast, thereby avoiding a run-off against the main opposition leader, the former military junta leader Julius Maada Bio of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), who received 37, 4 percent. None of the other candidates were able to secure more than 1,5 precent, confirming the growing polarisation of the political landscape in post-war Sierra Leone. The turnout was high, with a national average of 87 percent.

The declaration of the results set off an intense frenzy of activities on the streets of Freetown, with large numbers of people dressed in red (the colour of the APC) dancing, cheering and singing amidst the ear-deafening sounds of car horns, whistle pipes and the banging of pots and pans. “Ampa Ampoh” (“it is over” in Temne), was chanted by happy supporters as the party continued on many street corners throughout the night, not least around the APC party office.

Not everyone welcomed the results. In the opposition camp, tensions were mounting already prior to the announcement of the election outcome. Immediately after the voting day, the SLPP released a press statement in which it expressed its concern over “electoral irregularities” and “malpractices”, including alleged ballot-stuffing and physical assaults on polling agents by state security services. The statement also accusing NEC of political bias in favour of the incumbent party, and concluded that the SLPP was “only willing to accept results from an election that is considered credible… and that “[t]hese unfortunate incidences not only have the potential to undermine the credibility of the election results but have the tendency to derail our effort to consolidate our hard-earned peace”. The People’s Movement of Democratic Change (PMDC) voiced similar allegations.

In an effort to respond to these accusations and quell any continued speculations, the Chairperson of NEC, Christiana Thorpe, called a press conference on Wednesday 21 November, where she addressed these allegations, while simultaneously encouraging the political parties in question to come forth and present any evidence of illegal activities to the police. NEC acknowledged that some cases of irregularities had been reported on voting day, and confirmed that about 10 percent of the polling station results had been quarantined and the votes from those stations recounted. However, with the exception of a few and isolated cases, no evidence of over-voting or ballot stuffing had been discovered. The large number of international and domestic election observer teams echoed this message, and all have declared the elections free of systematic malpractice and generally commenced the performance of NEC for its political independence and impartiality in their preliminary assessments.

However, at the same time, there is little doubt the elections were conducted on what has been termed an “uneven playing field” where the incumbent was able to take significant advantage of its position in power, not least in terms of access to resources for campaigning. Richard Howitt, head of the European Union Election Observation Mission, claimed to local newspapers that APC had enjoyed 61 percent of airtime on the state broadcaster the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation, compared to 18 percent for the SLPP.

It is against this backdrop of perceived injustice and feeling of growing marginalisation that frustration is boiling beneath the surface within the opposition camp. In a country where the winner literarily takes it all, the stakes of elections are high, and the costs of defeat detrimental. No matter whether you are the flag bearer of the party or an ex-soldier or ex-militia working behind the scenes as part of the party’s unofficial security task force, a loss at the polls means another five years out in the cold, another five years of struggle for survival and access to resources.

President Obama or President Koroma hair cut. Courtesy of Mimmi Söderberg Kovacs

Although the electoral process so far has been largely peaceful, the last couple of weeks have also seen a number of minor events that have sparked incidents of electoral violence. So far, such incidents have been effectively contained by the state’s security forces, and have not escalated into any serious clashes. However, the heavy and visible presence of both the police and the military patrolling the streets during the election period have not always rendered a sense of security among the population. For some, it has instead been a cause of provocation and a sign that the APC is conflating the party with the state in an attempt to consolidate its power gains.

On the Monday following the elections, a dispute ensued between a group of SLPP supporters and some police and military personnel patrolling the town of Kailahun in Eastern Sierra Leone. It remains unclear how the dispute erupted, but while attempting to arrest the supporters for disorderly behaviour, one of the men attempted to disarm the military personnel and assaulted three police officers. The supporters were taken to the local police station for questioning. During the night hours, a large numbers of civilians approached the station while singing society songs and carrying sticks demanding their release. A curfew was imposed and the arrested men were brought to Kenema under armed escort.

On the Sunday after the announcement of the results, some 20 ballot boxes were found in a polling centre in Bo town, a traditional stronghold of the SLPP. As the rumour spread that the boxes contained votes that had been deliberately withheld by NEC, groups of SLPP youths took to the streets to protest. Riots broke out and the police had to fire tear gas to disperse the crowd. During the day, the tensions spread to the nearby town of Kenema where the police subsequently imposed a dusk to dawn curfew. According to NEC officials, the ballot boxes had already been counted for and were only stored awaiting further transportation.

Such incidents are likely to pose a latent threat as long as the SLPP leadership refuses to concede its electoral defeat. In a statement on Saturday 24 November, Maada Bio declared that his party was not ready to ”accept results of any rigged election” and that ” the process was fraudulent and the results do not reflect the will of the people of Sierra Leone”. Although simultaneously calling on his supporters to remain calm and law-abiding while awaiting the official party line of the SLPP (any court case against the election results must be turned in within 10 days of the announcement of the results), his message could easily be interpreted as a go-ahead of continued protests and violent resistance.

In his inaugural speech, President Koroma extended an invitation to the opposition in general and the SLPP in particular, suggesting that ”[t]he time for politics is over, the moment for continuing the transformation has come. This is the time for all of us to embrace each other. In the name of Mama Sierra Leone, let all APC supporters embrace every SLPP supporter and supporters of other political parties. I am inviting the leadership of the SLPP and other political parties to join the leadership of the APC in moving this country forward.”

It is however unlikely that we have seen the end of politics in Sierra Leone. In a country where everything is politics, and politics is everything, the politricks of the key political players is likely to continue for some time to come.

Mimmi Söderberg Kovacs is a senior researcher in peace and conflict studies heading the NAI research project Between Big Man Politics and Democratisation: Local Perceptions and Individual Agency in Processes of Electoral Violence. She was in Sierra Leone during the elections.

7 opposition political parties in Sierra Leone endorse and congratulate President Ernest Koroma

Friday, November 30th, 2012

By State House Communications Unit :

A cross-section of leaders of seven political parties have congratulated President Ernest Bai Koroma on his reelection at the recently concluded November polls. The meeting took place at the Credentials Hall, State House, Freetown.

According to the Chairman of the group of concerned political parties, Dr Kandeh Baba Conteh, President Koroma won the elections genuinely as observed by even all international and local observer missions during and after the elections.

Dr Conteh went on to assure the newly elected president of their unflinching support to continue the development and transformation of the country. He reiterated the call on the SLPP to use legal channels to seek redress if at all they are aggrieved.

The leader of the PLP also noted that it was because of the tireless efforts of President Koroma to move the country forward that convinced them to initiate a meeting with the president and congratulate him on his resounding victory.

Welcoming the leaders of the seven political parties, President Ernest Bai Koroma said the winners of the just concluded elections are the people of Sierra Leone. “Elections”, he said, “are not a matter of life and death”, saying “we must all advance the development and transformation of Sierra Leone”.

The Chief Executive also noted that Sierra Leone’s elections were observed to be the most peaceful elections in the history of Sierra Leone. “The enthusiasm of the people with over 80% voter turn out is considered to be huge even by western standards”, he said

President Koroma went on to say that Sierra Leone is no more a nation that could be referred to as a fragile democracy, rather the country has now earned the status of a matured democracy following the successful conduct to the November 17th elections.

“We don’t want to be defined by our past but defined by how we respond to the developmental challenges facing us as a country”, adding that he will continue to provide the leadership that will bring everyone onboard the development process.

The seven political parties include the People’s Democracy Party (PDP), the United Democratic Party (UDM), the RUFP, the NDA., the CDP, the PLP and UNPP.

The vote of thanks was rendered by the leader of the RUFP, Eldred Collins who paid glowing tribute to the ceaseless efforts of President Koroma to turn Sierra Leone around for the better.

Bo still tense : Indefinite curfew imposed

Thursday, November 29th, 2012
By Abdulai Sennesi

 

Police in the Southern Region have resolved this afternoon to invoke an unconditional and indefinite curfew in the city of Bo from 10pm to 6am every night. This, according to the Local Unit Commander for Bo West Division, CSP Sahr R Marker, is as a result of the intelligences gathered which indicate serious threats to the lives and properties of other persons within the municipality following the announcement of presidential results. Public order was disrupted in the city on Sunday 25 November 2012 which resulted into the wounding of three police officers and damaging of police vehicles and other public properties. Since that Sunday, curfew has been invoked.

 

The police further emphasized that there was no ‘political detainee’ in their cells within the Southern Region. What they had were eighteen ‘common criminals’, who pleaded guilty to numerous public order offenses. All eighteen convicts are currently serving their sentences at the prisons. Four out of the eighteen, who are serving jail terms up to four years, have been transferred from the Bo Prisons to the Freetown Central Prisons on Pademba Road.

The Police also informed that they have received intelligence that certain youths are planning to stage a demonstration in Bo against the outcome of the elections. In reaction, a press statement have been issued by the Regional Police Commander, AIG David Sesay, calling on anyone who wishes to stage a protest demonstration to go through the normal procedure by first seeking clearance from the police. Any act contrary to this, he reiterated, would be met with the required force from the security apparatus. The public is also informed that the standing Military Aid to Civil Power (MACP) invoked by His Excellency during the electioneering period is still in force.

We Stand At The Precipice Of A Prosperous Sierra Leone

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

BY SOLOMON SESAY OF THE NEW DAILY NATION :

 

And we must continue moving forward. There is no turning back now. What we left behind must stay in the rear. What is back there is a nation of people that begged for what they can do for themselves. But no more begging as we move forward, because we are ready to unlock our potentials to care for ourselves. What we see in the rearview mirror is a nation of people whose land is bequeathed with the mineral resources to make the living standards of every household above average in the entire world. And we move forward ready to utilize these resources to make the Sierra Leonean lifesty envied and better than before. We noticed that there were many SWEBEHS in our past, who thwarted our forward progress. But now, we are determined to leave the nation-wreckers behind since they are unwillingly to change their scheming ways.

We say Ta-ta to our yesterday of doing without. And we welcome our tomorrow of having plenty. We say goodbye to our bloody past. And we warmly greet our resolve for lasting peace. We say adieu to systemic corruption. And we salute a new justice without favoritism, unfairness, and discrimination. We say farewell to idleness, laziness, helplessness, hopelessness. We came through the nighttime of our nation’s history with a strapping faith in God. And we move forward to a new dawn with the brawny hope that our daylight years are here at last. We say never shall we abuse and disenfranchise the women in Mama Salone. Empowering Sierra Leonean women is no longer an intention, but now a component of our committed action. We move forward parting company with an inferior education system. Our students must have access to superior learning in order to maintain our new well-to-do nation. We depart from the melancholies of youth unemployment. There is gainful employment available for our young people everywhere just over the cliff.

We stand at the precipice of a prosperous Sierra Leone. The walls of Jericho have crumbled. In plain sight are the promises of our land of prosperity. We do not grumble about how long it took us to get here. The opportunities we let slip only reminds us of mistakes we will forever avoid. We will no longer come to blows over the little because there are plenty of blessings for all. We cannot enrich our Uranium, but it means more wealth for our nation. We know about the oil reserves along our coastal waters, and shall use it for the betterment of our people and our nation. We move from free healthcare for pregnant women, to affordable healthcare for all. We enter with the confidence that diseases previously responsible for our deaths, shall never again have the final say so over our lives.  We enter well poised to improve the quality of life for Sierra Leoneans. We stand at the precipice of a prosperous Sierra Leone.

We stand at the precipice of a prosperous Sierra Leone.From our vantage point, attending strictly to the business of prosperity shall make public all our blessings that come from God. Our hope is no longer to move mountains, because to scale the top of the mountain affords us the privilege to live up to our name-Lion Mountain. God has given us His vote of confidence. We have the go-ahead to uncover the untold riches in Sierra Leone. We have the acquiescence to acquire success without limits and abundance without hindrance. Sierra Leonean born professionals, please return home in service to the nation; there’s richness in the land for you. To feel sorry for Sierra Leone is no longer the mark of a true patriot. The nationalism in us now sanctions us to help Sierra Leone realize her full potential; this is now our national task. After our long-suffering, the New Sierra Leone is finally in sight. The prosperous Sierra Leone is just a few steps away. Let us walk forward as we work toward making our motherland a wealthy nation with well-to-do citizens. Welcome to the New and PROSPEROUS SIERRA LEONE. Let the riches flow and may the abundant blessings come forth. Lonta!

Solomon Sesay.

The Die is cast

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

By Titus Boye-Thompson :

The announcement of the recently concluded election results brought with it the realization that one would be apt to never forget that precise moment when such a historic and momentous announcement was made. These things tend to linger on your subconscious and you would recall it years later as you tell your grandchildren who would care to listen to your ramblings about how you played a part in making Sierra Leone what it shall have become by then. Whether you encrust the truth with snippets of anecdotes, tell of the interesting event or hilarious happenings that convey a lighter side to bear on your retelling of events or you are serious and sombre just to impinge on your audience, the sense of sinister foreboding and the danger that very nearly engulfed the nation if the wrong choice were to have been made is only a matter for speculation. The simple truth is that as Sierra Leoneans played their part in that epoch making moment, they all contributed to the process of making our democracy stand up to international scrutiny. Our Country should hold itself proud in the company of civilized nations as a result of exercising its duty to manage a truly fair and competent election process. We have successfully passed the test of true and mature leadership. The die is cast. There can be no turning back, Sierra Leone must not be for turning and this nation should march on with that resounding hope for a future filled with greatness.

The Institutions that guided this great ship of State to such lofty heights must not be forgotten in the ensuing jubilations. Already, Christiana Thorpe, the National Electoral Commissioner who suffered vilification and aspersions to no end is hailed as a forthright and principled person but guardedly and in some quarters, she continues to be held in awe and consternation as to her ability to hold a steady head in the midst of such vociferous admonition from those who felt hard done by within the process. Even the devil as they say have someone who loves him, so let it be that some may loathe Christiana Thorpe but that should not detract from the fact that the lady has done a good job, all told. Her announcement prior to the release of these results made a few days before the actual release tells volumes of her fortitude and inner strength of character. In essence, she made it plain that there was no need to cast doubts on provisional results in a process where adequate measures were in place to deal with anticipated irregularities. She had advised anyone with an axe to grind, especially in relation to any discrepancies to take their grievances to the Police as invariably, and rightly so, any such accusations or allegations were matters for the police to deal with. The youth in their usual extension of interpretations coined the phrase, “if you are hurt by anything, go to the police,” or as more vividly put in local creole parlance, “if ee art you, go police.” Nonetheless, the NEC staff and those of other institutions such as the Political Parties Representation Council, development partners represented by the Global Fund, DfID , the EU and those international observers from ECOWAS, Mano River Union, Commonwealth Secretariat, AU and also not forgetting local actors such as the Women’s Situation Room, Civil Society Watch etc. have all played their part in this process. The contributions made by each and every one of these institutions secure their place as guarantors of our fledgling democracy.

It is inevitable that for the smooth Administration of Government, the President has to be swiftly sworn in. This was done with utmost fiat and demonstrated that the wheels of State and sovereign authority were well heeled and functioning appropriately. It is also significant to note that upon being sworn in, the President’s first affirmation was to continue what he has been doing in the past five years, dedicating himself to working for the good and for the benefit of the people of Sierra Leone, relentless in his ambition to secure a nation of prosperity as a lasting legacy to this Country. President Koroma has reconfirmed his promise to do more for Sierra Leoneans. To those who lost the elections, a worthy adversary has taken the torch and it is but right that the business of Government should proceed. The results will not please everyone, not even in developed countries are elections settled without rancour. The challenge for us now is to work on our democracy, see how we can improve its efficiency and institute proper guidelines that would ensure that future elections and other acts of democratic endeavour are carried out with much less chagrin. In the event, one of the urgent and most pressing need would be for a process of national reflection so that we can together as a Nation, review the manner in which this election was conducted and to gain closure on the results, to offer an opportunity for reviewing the legal and constitutional parameters that guided the major institutions involved in its execution. To this regard, a conference on national reflection would not go amiss as that would accord all those who have a stake in these events would be given a chance to present their positions for peer review or for national debate and consideration. Having said that, there is however the alternative for these results to be challenged in the Courts as per the Constitution. That is sure to bring about a long drawn out and in some cases internecine battle that would detract from the business of democratic governance. The case of flying chads, hanging chads and other chads hung over an election process in America some years back. This did not result in a drawn out battle but was conceded after an initial court challenge that in the interest of securing the tenets of a truly democratic dispensation, it were better to loose honourably than to relegate the process of election management and supervision to the scrutiny of the legal system. In the event, George Bush was allowed a second term as the incumbent and also on the principle that any further arguments over the results will tend to undermine American democracy and cause more damage to the social and political psyche than any victory that may ensue from such engagements. So it is in Sierra Leone, where the matters at hand are incomparable to the situation in the USA. This is not a case of a closely run race but one in which the losers are sore that they are not in a position to be offered a consolation prize. That the elections were held on a “first past the post” basis is lost on those who now cry foul, even though to some pragmatic thinkers, the post is set rather too high.

It is but necessary therefore to promote peace and stability in the Country for the elections to be put behind us. The die is cast. President Ernest Koroma has been given a mandate by the people to continue in office. The international observers have given the elections a clean bill of health. There is no reason to countenance a ;power sharing or government of national unity when the APC Party has so firmly won the elections. The democratic rights and privileges of other parties have not been unduly denied, all parties were free to campaign everywhere and so they did. Just that the people have spoken in essence and the victor is clear for all to see. No amount of reconsideration or otherwise recalculation or re calibration will erase the true result that President Koroma was the popular choice and the choice least likely to cause an upset in the political and socio geodynamic of the Country. The Man has done a good job and that is widely recognized. Let us move on and start the work of making Sierra Leone a donor country, a prosperous nation and the best place to live, work and learn. The die is cast.

NEC Chair Christiana Thorpe hands over certificate of election to President Koroma

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

By State House Communications Unit :

Chairperson of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) Dr Christiana Thorpe has handed over the Certificate of Election of President to the winner Dr Ernest Bai Koroma at State House, Freetown.

Reading the citation shortly before presenting the certificate of election to President Koroma, Dr Christiana Thorpe said

“Dr Ernest Bai Koroma of the All Peoples Congress was a Presidential Candidate at the Presidential Election held on the 17th day of November 2012.

And Whereas after the Presiding Officer has, in accordance with subsection (1) of section 52 of the Public Elections Act, 2012, certified to me Dr Christiana A.M Thorpe, Returning Officer at that Election,that 1,314,881 valid votes were cast in favour of the candidate Dr Ernest Bai Koroma, at that election

An Whereas Dr Ernest Bai Koroma, therefore received 58.7% of the valid votes cast in the election:

And Whereas I have accordingly in pursuance to subsection (1) of section 52 of the Act declared Dr Ernest Bai Koroma, to have been elected President

Now therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred on the Returning Officer by paragraph (a) of section 53 of the Public Elections Act, 2012,

I hereby certify that Dr Ernest Bai Koroma, has been duly elected President of Republic of Sierra Leone at the Presidential Election of 2012.

Dated this 23rd day of November 2012. End of citation.

Speaking shortly after receiving the certificate of election, President Koroma noted that running multi tier elections was a difficult task which the commission discharged to the admiration of all international and local observers of the entire electoral process.

He also noted that the declarations of international observer missions that the elections were free, fair, transparent and largely credible shows the level of performance and professionalism displayed by members of the elections commission.

President Koroma pointed out that the just concluded elections was not just one of the most peaceful elections Sierra Leone has witnessed in its history, but also one of the freest and most peaceful in the entire African continent, adding that “because of this, we’re proud of you as a commission”

PPRC Condemns SLPP

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

In line with its mandate, the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) carefully monitored the electoral cycle process from political parties participation in Political Parties Liaison Committee (PPLC) meetings, initiation and passage into law the Public Elections Act, to monitoring of Campaigns and rallies,  participation of all political parties in verification of the Biometric Voter Register (BVR) in Brussels, Belgium to the periodic submission of NEC’s operational  progress reports to the Steering Committee on the Election Basket Fund (EBF) comprising of the Office of National Security (ONS), National Elections Watch (NEW), the Judiciary, Ministry of Justice and International Development partners. Huge resources from the Government of Sierra Leone and Development Partners were invested to ensure a credible election. 2.     ELECTORAL OUTCOME  

Again, pursuant to its constitutional and statutory Mandates, the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) monitored the conduct of political parties in the multi-tier elections conducted by the National Electoral Commission on 17th November, 2012. The Commission was satisfied that all political parties conducted their affairs peacefully and within the bounds of the law.

Furthermore, the PPRC was satisfied with the management of the elections by NEC which engendered the good conduct of all party operatives nationwide.

3.      PROMOTION OF DEMOCRATIC TENETS BY POLITICAL PARTIES

The Commission is in receipt of the Press Statement issued by the National Executive Council of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP). The Commission is concerned about the Party’s directives for its elected representatives to stay away from Parliamentary and local council proceedings respectively until further notice. However, the Commission wishes to draw the attention of the Party Leaders and the National Executive Council to Section 35 (1) of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone. The Section provides thus:

“…political parties may be established to participate in shaping the

Political will of the people, to disseminate information on political

Ideas, and social and economic programmes of a national character,

And to sponsor candidates for presidential, parliamentary or

Local Government Elections.”

Furthermore, the above constitutional provision is in tandem with Section 6 (2) (b) of the Political Parties Act of 2002 which mandates the Commission:

“To Monitor the accountability of political parties to their membership

And to the electorate of Sierra Leone.”

The Commission is of the view that the directive is rather unfortunate and calls on the SLPP to rescind same. This is based on the fact that when the electorate voted for the SLPP they did so on the understanding that they will participate in the proceedings of parliament and Local Councils and not to stay away from Parliament and local Councils.

However, the Commission urges the SLPP to use available legal forums to address their grievances if any.  The Commission will continue to monitor this matter

 # End of Release #

 For more Information Contact: 076823955/078201770/078201770