By Amin Kef (Ranger)
The APC Co-Chair of the Tripartite Committee for Electoral Systems and Management Bodies Review, Dr. Kaifala Marah, made it categorically clear on January 24, 2024, that there are indeed challenges standing in the way of achieving the smooth implementation of the Tripartite Agreement in the spirit of enhancing national unity and cohesion as was agreed upon at the Bintumani Conference Centre.
He stated how the June 24, 2023 multi-tier elections ended in a controversy and standoff between the APC and the Government of Sierra Leone, prompted by many issues among which were lack of transparency in the tallying process and the deliberate refusal of the Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone to publish the elections results.
He continued how such a situation made the independent verification of results impossible amidst serious concerns of the public and Election Observer Missions of electoral irregularities and fraud. Dr. Marah underscored how on account of this, the APC Party decided not to participate in governance until its demands on the publication of results were met.
The APC Co-Chair intimated that in order to resolve the impasse, among other things, there was a mediated dialogue facilitated by the Commonwealth, the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States and supported by development partners on 16th to 18th October 2023 which culminated into an Agreement for National Unity with 8 Resolutions.
According to him, the APC notes that initial progress has been made in the implementation of the agreement but was quick to point out that, however, major challenges remain especially under Resolution 4 which have to do with the release of persons arrested and detained; discontinuation of politically motivated cases; support to resettle internally and externally displaced persons; payment of backlog emoluments to elected MPs, Mayors, chairpersons, and councillors, among others.
Dr. Marah, however, lamented that the establishment of the Committee of Moral Guarantors is yet to be done further stating that the engagement with the international community and partners has been effective.
He said the APC continues to rely on the cooperation and political will of the Government and technical support from partners to move the process in addressing the various resolutions in the Agreement as highlighted above.
The APC Co Chair maintained that it is in view of those outstanding issues that the APC recently presented to the government a plan of action to accelerate coordination, monitoring and real time reporting on the Agreement, through a dedicated online platform.
“I am delighted to report that progress has been made in the implementation of Resolution 3 – the review of the 2023 elections and previous elections,” he disclosed adding how the parties to the agreement – the APC and the Government with support from Co-Chairs, first Seraphine Wakana and now Fredrick Hans Ampiah from the partners side, have harmonized and finalized the terms of reference within the stipulated thirty days period. He also expressed hope to keep the same spirit for the remaining five months of the Committee’s work.
The APC Co-Chair, Kaifala Marah, said the ToR will guide the Committee in its examination of Elections Results Management, which will include the 2023 elections results and previous ones; shipment, tallying and announcement of results, the procedure for the certification and publication of results; electoral redress mechanisms, data migration and voter registration processes; reviewing the efficacy of our electoral laws and regulations, systems, and processes; reports of election observer missions such as the EU and Carter Centre and their recommendations; functional review of key elections management bodies including the ECSL; assessing campaigning and media coverage, etc.
He said where persons, groups and institutions are found to have undermined elections, appropriate actions will be recommended.
According to him, the Committee will be supported by a Technical Secretariat with relevant expertise to be supported by development partners saying they will be guided by Rules of Proceedings, and a Communication Framework for outreach, sensitization and engagement of relevant stakeholders, including the public.
Dr. Marah highlighted that the assignment, therefore, comes as a sacred responsibility to clear doubts surrounding the 2023 multi-tier elections which, the APC and many others believe were compromised.
He expressed the view that it is in meeting the spirit of this monumental task that he would like to restate the commitment of the APC side of the Committee to ensuring that it is judiciously done and to reaffirm that they will collaborate and cooperate with the Government side, and the development partners to come out with recommendations that will be clearly informed by their findings.
The APC Co-Chair, Dr. Kaifala Marah said, the remit of the Tripartite Committee, and the expectation of Sierra Leoneans of its work are a glaring reminder of the growing awareness among the electorates on the values of democratic representation, and the freedom to make such a choice.
“It is for the protection of electoral choice that we will do our utmost, to serve our country, and to do that which is expected of us,” he assured.
He commended the development partners and the wider international community for supporting the process with the ultimate aim of saving the country’s democracy.
Dr. Marah said together they are all setting the records straight by ensuring that the electoral future of Sierra Leone is secured.
He made the aforementioned revelations during a Press Conference at the American Embassy where the US Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield addressed the Press about her diplomatic visit to Sierra Leone.