• September 1, 2023

The Aftermath of June 24 Elections… US SLAMS VISA RESTRICTION ON KONNEH, OTHERS

The Aftermath of June 24 Elections…  US SLAMS VISA RESTRICTION ON KONNEH, OTHERS
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Since the announcement of the June 24 election, the incumbent Sierra Leone People Party (SLPP) continues to battle with the non-acceptance of the elections result by the main opposition, All People’s Congress (APC).

The APC, in registering their dissatisfaction and disapprovals of the pronouncement of Julius Maada Bio re-election ordered their Members of Parliament elect, Mayors, Chairpersons and Councilors not to participate in the governance of the state.

The main opposition, Regional and Intentional Election Observer Missions and one of the domestic elections observers, a Civil Society Organizations National Elections Watch – NEW in their report, highlighted lack of transparency in the tallying and tabulation processes of the result that rendered the credibility of the presidential results announced by the Chief Electoral Commissioner and National Returning Officer, the Electoral Commission For Sierra Leone, Mohamed K. Konneh all time questionable.

In a press statement dated 31st August, 2023, the Secretary of State, Antony J. Blinken, announced ‘Visa Restriction Policy on Undermining the Democratic Process in Sierra Leone’.

The United States is committed to supporting and advancing democracy in Sierra Leone and around the world.  Today, I am announcing a new visa restriction policy under Section 212(a) (3) C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act for undermining the democratic process in the June 2023 Sierra Leone election, the release reads.

According to the press statement, under the said policy, the United States will pursue visa restrictions for those believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining democracy in Sierra Leone, including through the manipulation or rigging of the electoral process; intimidation of voters, election observers, or civil society organizations through threats or acts of physical violence; or the abuse or violation of related human rights in Sierra Leone.

Family members of such persons may also be subject to these restrictions. Persons who undermine the democratic process in Sierra Leone—including in the lead-up to, during, and following Sierra Leone’s 2023 elections—may be found ineligible for U.S. visas under this policy, the Press Statement emphasised.

The visa restriction policy announced today, Thursday 31st August this year will apply to specific individuals and is not directed at the Sierra Leonean people, the Press Release distinguished.

This decision, the Press Statement stated reflects the commitment of the United States to support Sierra Leoneans’ aspirations to have free and fair elections that demonstrate the will of the people and strengthen democracy and the rule of law.

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