By Abubakarr Kamara | The AfricaPaper

Freetown, Sierra Leone – There seems to be mixed feelings among Sierra Leoneans at home and abroad over final results in the recent concluded general elections in the country.

Rigging

Ballot paper stuff in a car
Ballot papers stuffed in a car

An investigation by the TAP’s correspondent in Sierra Leone revealed that while many people agreed the elections were largely peaceful, others think that some NEC staff had conspired with the ruling party to rig the election; ohers accused some NEC staff of siding with the opposition SLPP.

Campaign Manager for the SLPP, Dr. Alie Kabba accused NEC Western Area Commissioner, Miatta French of aiding the APC to rig the elections in some parts of the country by inputting the wrong data on the NEC tally machines.

“We urge NEC to investigate the conduct of Miatta French who has been intimidating the staff and this is a matter of great concern to the SLPP,” said Dr. Kabba.

Accusation

On the other hand, many APC supporters had been accusing the NEC boss, Mohamed Nfa Alie Conteh. They alleged that he had rigged the elections in favour of the opposition. Though there was no official accusation by the APC party, their Presidential candidate, Dr. Samura Mathew Wilson Kamara reminded NEC of their responsibilities in his statement after the announcement of the results.

APC Campaign days before election.
APC Campaign days before election.

“To the National Electoral Commission, your constitutional mandate is to ensure that the will of the people is respected in the discharge of your duties. I therefore urge you to carry out your duty diligently and judiciously,” said Kamara.

A spokesperson from NEC however dismissed the allegations, stressing it is  “untrue.”

“We want to assure the general public that any NEC official found wanting for any election malpractice will face the full penalty of the law,” said Albert Massaquoi, NEC spokesperson.

Assurance

Soon after Mr. Massaquoi’s assurance, several opposition parties began expressing doubt regarding the integrity of the entire electoral exercise, the results of which came out Tuesday evening. Alhaji Chief Samuel Sam Sumana leader of the Coalition for Change, dubbed “C4C,” was among a group of oppositions to register his misgiving about the results.He praised Sierra Leoneans for carrying out a peaceful election on March 7, but his party is not happy with the results announced.

A supporter of the National Grand Coalition waves campaign posters during a rally in Bo, Sierra Leone, on March 4, 2018. (J. Patinkin/VOA)
A supporter of the National Grand Coalition waves campaign posters during a rally in Bo, Sierra Leone, on March 4, 2018. (J. Patinkin/VOA)

“I was surprised to hear them announce 01 for the C4C in a polling station that I, my mother and other family members voted. However, we are going to use the courts to remedy the situation,” said Sam Sumana.

Unity

The run-off, now confirmed, both the ruling APC and the main opposition SLPP are working tirelessly to recruit a large chunk from the other 14 political parties for the run-off, which will be decided by a simple majority  and not on percentage.

This is highly encouraging news for political pundits in Sierra Leone, who have been advocating for a government of national unity.

“A government of national unity will promote national cohesion and ensure that the best human resources available across all political parties are effectively utilized for the development of the country,” said John K. Hassan, a university lecturer.

Mixed Feelings

Maada Bio. Photo: Abubakarr Kamara/The AfricaPaper
Maada Bio. Photo: Abubakarr Kamara/The AfricaPaper

Meanwhile, high-level talks are ongoing between political parties and their respective members but there are also mixed feelings among members of especially the National Grand Coalition (NGC) and the Coalition for Change (C4C) as to where their respective parties should throw their weight.

“Jigsaw Puzzle”

While some favor the APC, others prefer the SLPP and this has been described by a political analyst as a “jigsaw puzzle” which can only be fixed after polling day.

“There is no guarantee that Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella and Chief Samuel Sam Sumana can move even 50 percent of their respective voters to the party of their choice in the run-off. Some will prefer not to vote while majority will prefer voting on ethnic or regional lines as we’ve seen in the past elections in the country. I advise them to stay neutral and allow their supporters to vote their choice,” said Hassan. |TAP|