The APC And The Just Concluded Multitier Elections

By Cornelius Oguntola Melvin Deveaux

The 2023 multitier elections are done and dusted. Julius Maada Bio is the elected President of the Republic of Sierra Leone for a second and final term. The dénouement is unsatisfactory, but it is certainly not ambiguous.

The All Peoples Congress (APC) party rejects the results of the just concluded multitier elections, describes it as fraudulent, a naked theft of the votes, and contends there are irregularities and violations of established electoral procedures.

The party purports that following extensive internal consultations, it now calls for non-participation in all levels of governance, the resignation of the electoral commissioners, a travel ban on senior government officials and officers of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP), and a re-run of the elections within six months.

Without an iota of equivocation, I will state that the ad hominem of certain unscrupulous members of the party, some of whom are also members of the current de-facto leadership, is why the party finds itself in a quandary.

The de-facto leadership cry of electoral fraud as if they feel the pain of losing an election to incumbent Bio and the SLPP. Their cry is to cover up their Judas kiss and to blow smoke in the eyes of gullible supporters.

The de-facto leadership, inarguably, as much as it is discernible to right-thinking Sierra Leoneans, is aware the outcome of the just concluded multitier elections, particularly the presidential election, is a long-foregone conclusion.

In support of this assertion, I urge readers to go back to the electoral calendar for the 2023 electoral cycle. Among the preconceived electoral activities detailed in the calendar, there is no provision for a presidential run-off election, as provided for by law, should none of the candidate bag 55% of the valid votes in the first rounds.

Following the publication of the electoral calendar, I raised a red flag in our former ministers’ Whatsapp group. But because I was critical of the practice of internal democracy within the party, including the preparedness for the 2023 elections in tandem with the fact that my queries singled out the omission of a presidential run-off in the electoral calendar and the compromising silence of the party leadership, then, as indicative of driving the nail into the coffin, I was dismissed and branded a non-conformist.

Again, at the eleventh hour, the party prompted a public outcry to postpone the elections simply because the de-facto leadership knew the party was not bound to win.

A week before the elections, the APC made demands and threatened a boycott if these demands were unheeded. In a couple of days, a trusted and reliable acolyte of the de-facto leadership, Comrade Dr. Richard Konte, came back to say the ECSL has conformed to all of the demands and that the party will participate in the June 24th elections. Even when the ECSL refuted his claim on the basis that the ECSL does accord preferential treatment to political parties, Dr. Richard Konte came back to damn the ECSL rebuttal and assured supporters, thus expressing satisfaction with the process.

It is ludicrous the de-facto leadership is now crying foul over a process it validated as satisfactory and meeting all their demands.

The impetus of this recapitulation is to examine the stance of the de-facto leadership as presented in the June 30th and July 3rd, 2023 press releases.

Many supporters and well-meaning citizens may not be aware of how extensive were the internal consultations, howbeit rumors that the expanded NAC meeting past Friday was inconclusive concerning a strike action and whether to go to court.

Nonetheless, it is relevant to note that the new constitution of the APC does not bestow such powers on the national executive or the National Advisory Committee (NAC) to issue a directive to elected MPs, Mayors, District Council Chairpersons, and Local Councilors of the All Peoples Congress (elected representatives of the people) not to participate in the governance of the state.

Perhaps an emergency National Delegates Conference, according to 17(a) of the March 2022 APC constitution, would have been the most appropriate conduit to issue such a directive.

Although 17(j) prescribes that, in Special and Emergency situations, the National Advisory Committee shall perform the role and functions of the National Delegates Conference where it is not possible to convene a National Delegates Conference, the situation at hand, which has to do with controversies emanating from the outcome of a national election, does not find a perspicuous placement in the description of Special and Emergency Situations as aptly elucidated in the Interpretation Section of the March 2022 constitution.

Consequently, this directive is most absurd and could be a subject of litigation. Also, it is at variance with the aims and objectives of the party, as stipulated in the party constitution. Therefore, no member is under the obligation of 12(IV) of the new constitution to abide by such a directive.

Adequate and proper representation is the surest way of protecting the votes of those who elect representatives. Not representing the people is an outright disservice.

Equally, it is a blatant betrayal of the trust repose in elected representatives by the voters (some of whom may not be APC members) and also a mistake with catastrophic implications given the vulnerability and fragility of the party at this particular time.

Moreover, we must not lose sight of the fact that the legitimacy of the de-facto leadership, including the NAC, as a product of a Court Order, is still a subject of litigation.

In my view, the call to not participate in governance is a ploy by these same casuistic members to send the party to political oblivion.

The implications on the constitution and representation of the people are enormous, given that under the district block proportional system, there is no room for a bye-election to fill a parliamentary vacancy and that the law gives the President the powers to appoint a committee of management to superintend local councils.

Several decades ago, this callous mistake by the SLPP sent them into oblivion and paved the way for a one-party system of government in 1978. But unlike the then APC government of Siaka Stevens, the SLPP government will not introduce a one-party system of governance since it is globally unfashionable.

The SLPP will groom a pseudo-opposition that will be way more inept than its conspiratorial caboodle in the de-facto leadership of the APC and appoint committees to run local councils. And five years is sufficient for this to probably lead to the extinction of the APC from the political landscape.

In essence, non-participation in governance is not politically healthy and suicidal. So also is the decision not to seek redress in a court of law.

In retrospect, I think the call for non-participation and not to go to court is a soothing balm. It is to calm the nerves of Dr. Samura Kamara – the man who shot himself in the leg several times and still expects to walk upright without a limp.

Since the reintroduction of multi-party democratic elections in 1996, electoral cycles and outcomes, particularly that of presidential elections, are not free from integrity deficiencies, lack of transparency, inconsistencies, and other legitimate queries.

Both James Jonah and Christiana Thorpe became ministers in the ensuing governments after the elections they conducted. In 2007, Solomon Berewa was unhappy about cancellations in the SLPP stronghold without any reference to the law. In 2012, two of the four electoral commissioners were not in agreement with the final result read by Christiana Thorpe. Those who lost the 2007 and 2012 presidential elections conceded defeat and did not threaten war or instruct elected representatives not to participate in the governance system. They chose the courts even though it was a fruitless endeavor, and the APC was in governance then.

Unlike those elections, the thrust of the bone of contention in the 2023 elections anchors on the transparency of the tabulation of the election results.

We measure the transparency, integrity, and credibility of an electoral process at every stage of the electoral cycle beginning with appointments and composition of the electoral commission and how it conducts itself. It is the responsibility of a political party to monitor every step of the cycle and put the necessary safeguards in place.

Through all the stages of the electoral cycle, the opposition APC leadership was either complacent or compromised in monitoring the process and holding the ECSL accountable.

Except we choose not to be honest, the APC cannot deny the deafening public concern regarding claims of irregularities and violations of established electoral procedures at critical stages of the electoral cycle.

Regrettably, the party leadership within and outside parliament was not heedful and failed to act appropriately.

Again, it is indisputable the APC was practically, financially, and structurally ill-prepared for the election. Calls to promote genuine reconciliation fell on recalcitrant ears. There was no unity, no campaign strategy, no campaign message, and limited campaign logistics. Many of the party’s big guns, including the former chairman and leader Ernest Bai Koroma and most other flagbearer contenders, did not support/participate in the campaign. The presidential flagbearer, Dr. Samura Kamara, was disappointed, deceived, betrayed, and abandoned by the people he was supposed to trust.

It is a wonder to many that at the time of the announcement of the results, a good number of de-facto executives and certain ill-motivated comrades were in Makeni at the residence of the former chairman and leader and not with Dr. Samura Kamara as protocol and morality dictates.

Some senior members have been accused of political tradeoffs with the ruling party while over-reliance on the international community shadowed common sense.

It is only the politically naive, blind, deaf, and dumb that did not know the just concluded multitier elections will end in favor of Julius Maada Bio and his SLPP.

To the issue of transparency in tallying the election results, the court is the most appropriate arena to battle this out just as a full complement of the totality of Result Reconciliation Forms (RRF-Forms) from all the polling stations across the country is the prima facie evidence.

Even as I write, the party has not been able to publish its tabulation of the results based on RRFs received from its party agents.

Because the party was practically, financially, and structurally ill-prepared for the election, it may amaze readers to learn that the party did not have an up-to-speed tallying center and only relied on statements from international and local observers, the NEW projection, and assumptions and speculations to support its claim that the tallying of results is faulty.

In fairness to international and local observers, they commended the election process, notwithstanding hitches that are not sufficient to invalidate the results.

It is important to note that the statements from observers are mere opinions, not facts. The facts that prove the tallying of the results faulty are in the RRF forms, which the party cannot produce. The party cannot corroborate claims of lack of transparency. Perhaps this is why the de-facto leadership is not going to court.

I take exception to the long list of reasons why the party says it will not go to court simply because it is a matter of fact that cronies of the de-facto executive can influence the courts to favor them, as is evident in the litigations before Justices Fisher and Hannah Bonnie.

To this end, the party systematically crucifies Dr. Samura Kamara’s winning.

Uppermost on the agenda of the APC now should be going back to the drawing board.

In conclusion, it seems the party lost the elections since it cannot prove otherwise

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