By Alpha Good Kamara
At a Press Conference held by the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) held on Thursday, 15th June 2023, the National Secretary General of the Party, Umaru Napoleon Koroma, stated that the SLPP is gravely concerned about the deliberate attempts by the All People’s Congress (APC) to disrupt the peaceful elections and reverse the democratic gains Sierra Leone has made since the return to multi-party democracy in the late 1990s.
He continued by saying the general public would recall that on 11th May 2023, the All People’s Congress released a press statement which contained a call for a nationwide protest furthering how the press statement was followed by various reckless threats bordering on national security by the leadership of the All People’s Congress, including the National Secretary General, Lansana Dumbuya Esq., and the former APC Chairman of the Western Area Rural District Council, Kasho Holland Cole, as evidenced by a Sierra Leone Police’s press statement dated 20th May 2023.
The SLPP National Secretary General revealed that in recent weeks, the APC’s call for a nationwide protest was purposefully amplified by the notorious APC member, “ADEBAYO” (residing in Holland) and carefully orchestrated for the 12th and 13th June, 2023.
He pointed out that the botched nationwide protest prematurely precipitated into the APC Press Conference held on Wednesday 14th June 2023 as part of sustained efforts to undermine the electoral process and create instability in the country.
Umaru Napoleon Koroma lamented that the controvertible statement by the APC Presidential Candidate, Dr. Samura Mathew Wilson Kamara at the press conference is nothing more than a compendium of unsubstantiated claims, conjectures, blatant inaccuracies and preposterous allegations by a candidate who is apprehensive of an embarrassing defeat at the forthcoming polls.
Accordingly, the Sierra Leone People’s Party hereby states the following: Demand by the APC Presidential Candidate for the resignation of the Chief Electoral Commissioner and other Electoral Commissioners is an outrageous attempt to use the Board of Electoral Commissioners as scapegoats for the ill-preparedness of the APC for the 24th June 2023 multi-tier elections.
He said the suggestion by the APC Presidential Candidate to replace the Board of Electoral Commissioners with a so-called “independent internationally accredited team of electoral commissioners” to conduct Sierra Leone’s national elections is disrespectful to our collective consciousness, an attack on the sovereignty of Sierra Leone and a specter of his unfitness to be elected as President and sovereign Head of State.
The SLPP National Secretary General maintained that the appointment of the Chief Electoral Commissioner was approved by the Parliament of Sierra Leone following due parliamentary scrutiny by the ruling and opposition Members of Parliament including APC members adding that the accusation of any political association against the Chief Electoral Commissioner re-echoes a smear campaign by the APC, which should be roundly rejected by every well-meaning Sierra Leonean.
He intimated that His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio and the ECSL made an announcement for the date of the multi-tier elections over a year ago to provide all political parties adequate time to plan and prepare for the 24th June 2023 multi-tier elections.
According to him, several engagements have taken place over the last 12 months involving all political parties and election management bodies through the Political Parties Liaison Committee (chaired by ECSL) and the Election Steering Committee (co-chaired by the Chief Minister and the United Nations Resident Coordinator) to promote free, fair and credible elections.
He added that the APC has participated in Political Parties Liaison Committee meetings, where concerns relating to the electoral process have been raised and the ECSL has addressed those concerns in the presence of other political parties and members of the civil society.
Napoleon said the bogus demands and unacceptable deadline by the APC Presidential Candidate are merely characteristic shenanigans by a political party desperately seeking a postponement of the 24th June 2023 multi-tier elections that has the tendency to create a constitutional crisis in the country.
He disclosed that the SLPP will stoutly reject any attempt to disrupt the 24th June 2023 multi-tier elections as a result of APC’s failure to prepare for the multi-tier elections.
According to him, without doubt, there is no law that requires ECSL to give a national Register of Voters to political parties saying any attempt by ECSL to provide political parties the disaggregated data of voters, including voters’ identification numbers, voters’ addresses, dates and places of birth will not only be in contravention of the privacy and confidentiality of voters but also endanger the lives and security of voters adding that the voter ID cards issued to all voters do have sufficient information about all registered voters in Sierra Leone.
The National Secretary General stated that the SLPP reaffirms its confidence in the Board of Electoral Commissioners and admonishes the ECSL to continue discharging its functions within the provisions of the law maintaining that any aggrieved political party must seek judicial or administrative redress, in line with the constitution of the Republic of Sierra Leone.
He said the APC Presidential Candidate’s repeated assertion that the only outcome of free and fair elections the APC will accept is an ‘APC victory’ sets a dangerous tone for a premeditated post-election violence by APC adding that such unfounded assertion is akin to the narrative the APC Presidential Candidate created in 2018 when he realized the APC had lost the elections to the SLPP and subsequently refused to concede defeat.
He added that all well- meaning Sierra Leoneans must robustly condemn the APC Presidential Candidate for sowing the seed of post-election violence through peddling such assertion.
The SLPP National Secretary General stated that the Presidential Candidate, members and supporters of the SLPP, confident of a resounding victory in the 24th June 2023 multi-tier elections, hereby call on all and sundry, to continue their peaceful election campaigns across the country.
He expressed regrets that the SLPP is surprised by the silence of members of the diplomatic community and civil society organizations to condemn APC’s systematic pattern of inciting violence and threats to undo the country’s democracy, peace and national security especially through the APC’s mouthpiece, ‘ADEBAYO’, who is financed by senior members of the APC.
Napoleon said at the very least, they expect local and international election monitoring bodies to issue a statement on the validity or otherwise accuracy of the claims made by the APC Presidential Candidate. Failure to do so would undermine their role as moral guarantors of the country’s democratic governance.