His Excellency former President Ernest Bai Koroma has told journalists at a press conference held at his Makeni resident that outcomes of elections in Africa must continue to reflect the will of the people, categorically stating that the will of the people cannot be stopped nor manipulated.
The Former President, who made this remark on 20 August 2021, urged elections management bodies across the continent to change the narratives about the outcomes of African elections to be always reflecting the true will and aspirations of the people.
He observed that the problems in Africa always emerge from elections by way of creating more constituencies, through imposed gerrymandering.
Speaking on his recent African Union Election Observer Mission to the Republic of Zambia, where he led a thirty-four man team including current and past AU ambassadors as well as election management experts, former President Koroma said the AU was very pleased that they had achieved preventive diplomacy in the recent Zambia election.
He generously thanked the AU for the opportunity accorded him to lead the mission and in promoting peace, stability, democracy and good governance in the conduct of the Zambian elections.
The former President said that even before the election, the AU had been giving assessments on the situation on the ground, adding that there was already escalating tension building up between the then president, the ruling party, and the incoming president, which precipitated the opposition to be constantly challenging results of past elections.
He said the AU had been with the position that the observation mission should properly manage the situation up to post-election issues.
Former President Koroma said AU’s interest was Zambia, because of the country’s uniqueness in liberation struggles in the Southern Africa region – Zimbabwe and Angola, pointing out that Zambia has been a model for democracy in Africa, despite high tension that was between the then opposition and the former ruling party.
He said the opposition and the incoming president had battled for over six times with the outgoing president.
“We engaged everybody; the Civil Society Organizations, diplomats and religious groups,” he said.
The former President said further that there was the issue of disputes and arguments, and the AU observer mission was able to manage the situation with high level of trust and confidence in the process, making sure the process was transparent and credible and that there was neither double voting nor duplication, as the election outcome reflected “the true will and aspirations” of Zambians.
“We made sure that the outcome of the election reflected the will of the people. The turnout was about 75% with the fullest demonstration to exercise their rights to elect their representatives and the president,” said former President Koroma.
He described his mission to Zambia as a difficult task, adding that before the announcement of the results he was out with his team up to 5:00 in the morning shuttling between the incoming president and the outgoing one, making sure that the process is credible.
Former President Koroma said the outgoing president, according to the results, lost the election to the then opposition, which he described as a moment of great promise for Zambians, noting that there were exchanges of calls between the two.
As head of the AU election observer mission to Zambia, former President Koroma said that it has been his responsibility to contribute towards building and sustaining democracy by engaging the governance structures, adding that in the end his mission commended the people of Zambia, as the outcome of the election was a true reflection of the will of the people.
He said the final report of the observation mission would soon be presented to the Zambian people and government as well as to the AU to ensure that standards are fully upheld in the conduct of African elections.
Former president Koroma expressed delight that Sierra Leone was fully represented in such critical decision-making process for which profound recognitions had been expressed.
He warned that people should know that votes should not be manipulated against the real reflections and will of the people, adding that the will of the people cannot be stopped. “I think we have to build this process. Elections are contests,” he said.
Responding to questions from the media after his briefing, former President Koroma said that when there is a determination of the people no one can stop it.
“I am by nature a man of peace, even with the ordinary man I do not take advantage of my position,” he said, added that the Zambian situation is not that different from the one in Sierra Leone and there is so much to learn from it.
“We have to know that elections are not about life and death,” the former President reiterated, saying: “The police have to be police, and the army conducted itself in a very professional manner in the Zambian election, as well as CSOs who also demonstrated high level of professionalism and neutrality in monitoring the process compared to ours back home.”