When the Chairman of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) Dr Prince Harding publicly referred to the International Community Observers and Monitors of the June 24, 2023 elections as ‘academic dwarfs’, I honestly think that is the mentality of the SLPP. The SLPP see themselves as intellectual, academic and political giants, and regard their opponents as either intellectual, academic or political dwarfs.

The SLPP Chairman is on record saying that they (SLPP) will never hand over power to the APC ever again. The SLPP Chairman said these unfortunate words in the presence of his Party Leader, Mr. Julius Maada Bio, who sat there smiling at the unfortunate, derogatory and hate speech message, wherein Dr Prince Harding boastfully reported to Mr. Julius Maada Bio what he as the SLPP Chairman just told the EU Chief Observer, ‘Do you think we are going to hand over power to these mad men? I said we’ll never hand over power to APC again, not in this country.’

With such statements coming out of the mouth of the SLPP hierarchy and its membership applauding to such hate and derogatory rhetoric, then I can authoritatively say that the SLPP leadership lacks the moral gravitas to condemn hate and derogatory speeches going forward.

Again, the current Leader of the SLPP Mr. Julius Maada Bio is also on record on national television to have said ahead of the 2018 elections, five years ago: “For the sake of peace if they have a rigged election I will not accept it, and for the same sake of peace, because rigged elections lead to war.” The Leader of the SLPP Mr. Julius Maada Bio on the same programme said that he was not going to tell anybody to go out in the streets, but he has the right to protect their votes.

Mr. Julius Maada Bio said: “We will resist anything that is invalid, we will resist any attempt by NEC to lead a process that is not going to be clean. I will tell you for sure that we are going to remain as peaceful as we can, we are going to take part in the process. We will just not accept a rigged election.’’

There, was Mr. Julius Maada Bio on record agitating for transparency, saying that he will not settle for anything less. But the question that Mr. Bio needs to answer in relation to the current situation in the country is, does Mr. Julius Maada Bio of SLPP in anyway think that what is good for him and his SLPP party in an election, should also be good for any other Sierra Leonean – including Dr Samura Mathew Wilson Kamara of the All Peoples Congress (APC)?
Or has Mr. Julius Maada Bio already endorsed his Party Chairman’s derogatory statement that the APC are mad people, and that the APC is unfit to resist elections that are not transparent? Or is Mr. Julius Maada Bio of the same notion that the APC are intellectual/academic dwarfs, and that the APC is incompetent to see through the SLPP’s game plan in attempting to stage a coup against our democracy?

Mr. Julius Maada Bio, I am specifically addressing the SLPP Leader thus, as I share his view on elections that are not transparent should be resisted! And as at today, it has taken over two weeks the Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone (ECSL) has failed to provide the people of Sierra Leone transparent results.
The ECSL has laws and policies that guide the electoral process, and that process must be fully exhibited.

Anything falling outside those provisions will not be accepted. Mr. Julius Maada Bio knows that Sierra Leoneans can be peaceful, and he equally must know that Sierra Leoneans can resist abuses. And I want to believe that it is against this backdrop that he stoutly spoke about resistance to electoral rigging.

Sierra Leoneans need to know this, as it is the very reason we are expressing the impasse after the elections. Interestingly, Mr. Julius Maada Bio and the SLPP made heavy weather about the announcement of an early elections date a year ahead of elections, but he failed to explain to the nation about the possibility of having an interim presidency leading to a runoff election due to the said date.

The Chief Electoral Commissioner Mohamed Konneh and Mr. Julius Maada Bio as President of the Republic of Sierra Leone announced the 24th June 2023 elections date. This announcement left the presidency with only 10 days period during which the Presidential elections shall take place including runoff election. Meaning as of 5th July 2023, the President ceases to be the President he took oath of office for on 4th April 2018. This is pursuant to Section 43 paragraphs (a & b) of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone.

The aforesaid section provides that at ‘the effluxion of time’ for the presidency (i.e., 5 years from the time the President was declared President by the Returning Officer). Legally, the President ceases to be President if the election had not taken place after the beginning of the period of four months ending with the date when the President’s term of office would expire by effluxion of time, during the first three months of that period. In other words, election for the office of the President must be held during the period of three months beginning with the date when the office of the President becomes vacant.

Thus, as per the 2018 elections which ushered President Bio as President of the Republic on 4th April 2018, his effluxion of the presidency was 4th April 2023. Therefore, the elections for the vacant presidency were to have been concluded not later than 4th July 2023. Failing to have concluded that election with the said timeframe would have led to an interim presidency whereby the Chief Justice would have possibly held the position as the Interim President of the Republic during the runoff period starting on 5th July, 2023, until the Returning Officer announce the newly elected President.

I guess this was the reason why Keketoma was all over the place talking that a delay of the elections will lead to CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS. There would have been no crisis. In fact, during the transition period from British rule (under the Monarchy) to a Republic, Sierra Leone’s first President was the then Chief Justice C O E Cole.

There is currently an issue of acceptability of the challenged ECSL announced elections results. The APC has made its position known that the ECSL has not been transparent in the conduct of the elections. And two weeks down the line after the June 24, 2023 elections, ECSL has not been able to publicly display the elections results so that the results can be verified and ascertained by the Political Parties with their Results Reconciliation Forms (RRF).

I believe one thing that should be top in the minds of Mr. Julius Maada Bio and the SLPP is the application of Section 48 subsection (4) of the 1991 Constitution. The said section provides for the immunity of the President, but can the same cater for a person that illegally occupies the seat?
I am particularly concerned because I have seen Mr. Julius Maada Bio making strong statement that he will resist any elections that are rigged, or that he will resist any attempt by Electoral Commission to lead a process that is not clean. In other words, acceptability of results can only be accepted if the elections are transparent.

With all honesty, ECSL has so far acted and performed below standards in the conduct of the June 24 elections and has not been transparent so far in producing results. How can it announce results without being able to give a breakdown of the results announced for well over two weeks now?
ECSL had said that no polling station will have more than 300 voters. But ECSL figures compiled after the elections show the average number of people who voted at polling stations far exceeded the stipulated 300. This is just one example of ECSL’s dishonesty.

How can ECSL be trusted with their declaration of Mr Bio as president, after such massive over-voting and lack of transparency?

Please see attached ECSL document showing the number of voters per polling stations across the country: