Elections are mechanisms that allow citizens to choose their leaders after a government’s mandate expires. Sierra Leoneans are determined to exercise their right to elect their leaders in 2023.
The ramifications of decisions the citizens make in 2023 will last with them for five years. Due to the enormous consequences, any election result would have on the general public, the electoral process must be free, fair, and credible.
Despite the criticism that there are hardly any free and fair elections anywhere in the world, this writer always advocates for Sierra Leoneans to have the government and leaders they aspire to and not a government that comes to power through bogus and rigged elections.
As Sierra Leoneans are poised to go to the polls to express their feelings about the SLPP government, voters should choose who will champion their needs and aspirations in the next five years, and the Election Commission Sierra Leone,(ECSL)which has the responsibility of ensuring that happens, must rise above the rigging mentality. The ECSL shouldn’t allow itself to be manipulated by any politician, be it President Maada Bio or opposition politicians.
Even though the ECSL has not published the breakdown per district of the over twenty thousand names (voters) deleted from the electoral register, some people are alleging that most of the names missing are from the main opposition strongholds. This is a charge that the ECSL denies, stating that the deleted names cut across the country.
However, there is no document published by the ECSL to support its submission that the deleted names affected the entire country.
This writer has heard arguments and counter-arguments from supporters of the two major political parties (SLPP and APC), each claiming they would win the 2023 elections.
If the “paopa” government believes it has done enough to improve the lives of its citizens, critics say it should not worry about the 2023 elections since people would not want to change a government that has been able to create positive impacts in the lives of ordinary people and has greatly improved the lives of its citizens.
The APC should also make its credentials (policies and strategies) known to voters if indeed a government formed by the party is appropriate for Sierra Leoneans.
Political observers are watching the ECSL closely in the discharge of their constitutional mandate. This is to create a level playing field for all political parties in the country so that Sierra Leoneans can express how they feel through the ballot box by freely electing those who they want to form the next government.
The expression of such feelings should not be suppressed by any state institution in the country as doing so means compromising the hard-earned peace that every Sierra Leonean has worked for.
Sierra Leone has done well in embracing democracy in comparison to other African countries. So the ECSL boss needs to realize that the onus of continuing the successful democratic trails left by past chief electoral commissioners falls on his shoulders. He must recognize that thousands of eyes are fixed on him, particularly when it comes to critical electoral issues in the country.
To win elections, a sober government in any country should rely on the accomplishments it has made in the country and for its citizens, rather than rigging methods.
A government that relies or banks on rigging tactics and manipulating electoral laws and arm-twisting the election commission to win elections is useless and ineffective.
Democracies give citizens the right to elect their leaders through the ballot box. The key lubricating oil for democracy is the conduct of free fair and peaceful elections at a stipulated time and date.
Therefore, elections should be a mirror reflecting the true feelings of voters.