• October 4, 2022

Sierra Leone: Bad Precedents Abound

Sierra Leone: Bad Precedents Abound
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The people of Sierra Leone shall continue to see the unimaginable as dreadful political, economic and social trends abound in the country.

Many unprecedented issues, mostly bizarre, have continued to have a field day in the socio-political space of Sierra Leone over the years. But recent happenings in the body politic of the country under the present administration have left Sierra Leoneans in awe and jaw-breaking stare, wondering over what is becoming of the nation and its political environment.

While the removal of the former Auditor-General Lara Taylor-Pearce and her deputy Tamba Momoh from office, and the unreasonable pardoning of a murderer like LAC, have formed part of the crafty, uncanny, eerie and wired happenings under the present administration in the last four years or so, the people of Sierra Leone have not yet been given a break in seeing some more odd happenings taking place under the watch of the Bio-led government.

In recent days, weeks and months, a lot of eerie, bizarre and lawless things have been noticed to be taking place in the ongoing voter registration exercise that have left people in Sierra Leone and abroad baffled and disappointed in the relevant authorities, such as the Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone (ECSL).

The nation has again awakened to another brewing matter surrounding the Mayor of Freetown, Her Worship Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, wherein she has been invited by the police to report to the Criminal Investigations Department shortly after her return from the just concluded UN Summit in the United States of America. Before her departure to that Summit, she expressed her frustration and disappointment with the security apparatus – the police to be specific – upon the arrest at the Freetown International Airport of one of her councillors who was on the verge of travelling with her to the Summit in the US. The councillor was declared wanted hence arrested allegedly in connection with the August 10, 2022 demonstration in Sierra Leone.

The nation is also troubled and traumatized by a failing economy under the grip of a runaway inflation mainly caused by the waning exchange rate of the Leone to major international trading currencies such as the dollar.

And the disparaging, disapproving and reproachful comment of the Bank Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone as regards the withering national economy and rapid inflation in the country has really not helped matters. Instead, recent remarks by the Bank Governor in relation to the present deteriorating exchange rate of the Leone – the country’s legal tender – wherein he said the dwindling nature of the Leone is hurting not only to the public but also to himself is another serious cause for concern. Further shocking to the nation is his reported comment of assuming that he could not help the situation of the apparently dying Leone under his watch!

All these and more are serious issues of concern that have left people in bewilderment as bad precedents continue to abound in the political, economic and social milieu of the country.

Regarding the unprecedented situations the people of Sierra Leone have continued to see in the ongoing voter registration, a barrister and solicitor of the High Court of Sierra Leone, Lansana Dumbuya Esq. had this to say as he wrote to the ECSL on 28 September 2022:

“I have been instructed that ECSL officers went to Liberia and registered people who are not eligible to vote in Sierra Leone. Please investigate this instruction and cancel any list produced as a result of such registration.

“In view of the above, I urge you to consider the anomalies attributed to ECSL, and I hereby request that you extend the registration period to enable all those who are qualified to be registered in their respective Wards, Constituencies, districts, and regions, as provided for by sections 18, 22, 23 and 24 of the Public Elections Act, 2012.”

Another shocking trend that left a lot of people in the country wondering whether such an act is unbecoming is the recent public notices released in the South-east of the country – in Kenema and Bo – to coerce people to register when the Public Elections Act speaks otherwise.

The Public Notice in Bo issued on 29 September 2022 states: “The General Public is hereby informed that on Saturday 1st October, 2022 there shall be no trading/business activity in the entire city of Bo.

This move by the Council and Key city stakeholders is to allow and ensure business owners/petty traders have time to reach out to voter registration centres across the municipality and get registered to participate in the forthcoming general elections in the country.

As a municipal government, the Bo City Council wishes to encourage all Sierra Leoneans to go out to the various registration centres closer to their residences and be registered to be part of the National Voting Exercise.”

For us, these are strange happenings and trends that are taking the nation aback as the public elections approach in 2023.

As these somehow unprecedented happenings continue to unfold, it is essential to state that the result of an election should not be determined on what happens on polling day alone. If the electioneering and electoral processes of an election are not free and fair, the results of such an election shall not be considered free or fair, and would be automatically rejected outright.

The people of Sierra Leone want to see a free and fair process as the country heads towards the June 24, 2023 elections. Hence all of us must ensure that nothing happens that will jeopardize the peaceful flow of the electioneering process. At this juncture, it must be stated that more than an end to war; we want an end to the beginnings of all wars, as Franklin Delane Roosevelt states.

And in this somehow unruly situation, wherein unprecedented and irregular activities continue to take place, the press must be seen to be taking the lead in voicing out the anomalies to maintain peace, justice and democracy.

Again, the press, as US’s Thomas Jefferson states, is the best instrument for enlightening the mind, and improving him as a rational, moral and social being.

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