Leader and Presidential Candidate of the oppositon All People’s Congress (APC), Dr. Samura Kamara, has openly criticized the outcome of the June 24, 2023, elections in a detailed press statement. He alleges that the elections were rigged and accuses the Electoral Commission, led by Mr. Mohamed Konneh, of playing a significant role in this misconduct.
Dr. Kamara, in his address to Sierra Leoneans, offered an apology for the distress that citizens have experienced due to the “electoral coup” he describes. He underscores that the recent election debacle stands as a dark mark in the history of democratic Sierra Leone.
The heart of the issue seems to revolve around the alleged mishandling of election results. Dr. Kamara, representing the APC party, claims that despite numerous requests, Chief Electoral Commissioner Konneh failed to provide public access to polling station vote counts. He contends that the announced results, therefore, do not genuinely represent the people’s will.
The strong sentiment against the current Bio-led regime is palpable in Kamara’s statement. He frames the recent events as not only a political misstep but also a threat to the nation’s hard-won democracy, highlighting human rights violations and economic instability under President Julius Maada Bio.
However, hope is not lost. In a move toward reconciliation and seeking the truth, Dr. Kamara highlights the forthcoming inter-party dialogue as an opportunity for peace and diplomacy. This dialogue is seen as a chance to address and possibly rectify the issues surrounding the recent elections.
In his closing remarks, Dr. Kamara calls on Mr. Konneh to release the polling station vote counts for an independent forensic audit, suggesting that the APC’s future actions will be determined by this move. He ends with a prayer for unity and democracy in Sierra Leone.
With the nation watching closely, this inter-party dialogue could serve as a crucial turning point for Sierra Leone, hopefully restoring trust in its democratic processes.
Read his full press statement below:
PRESS STATEMENT BY DR SAMURA M W KAMARA AHEAD OF THE FORTHCOMING INTER-PARTY DIALOGUE ON THE OUTCOME OF THE JUNE 24 ELECTIONS.
My fellow Sierra Leoneans,
Why the Press Statement?
I am addressing you today in anticipation of the agreed dialogue between the APC party and the current Bio-led illegitimate SLPP Regime on the political stalemate following the rigged June 24, 2023 elections, the subsequent stealing of the mandate of the people of Sierra Leone, and what has transpired thereafter.
I start by apologizing to you all for the distress, suffering and pain, directly or indirectly, which we have incurred and continue to endure as a result of an election fraud or electoral coup of historic proportions. This is the worst that has ever happened to democratic Sierra Leone, and let me at the outset state that I consider a bounding duty to right this wrong, and I ask all well-meaning Sierra Leoneans and friends of Sierra Leone to join me in this divine quest, with the strongest conviction and determination in order to save our democracy and the future of our country, both of which we have so assiduously nurtured over the years, and more so, since the end of the 11-year conflict that befell our country. The deliberate actions of Mr Mohamed Konneh and his cohorts of the Electoral Commission, in the June 2023 elections stand as an unforgivable sin against the people of Sierra Leone. Being arrogantly unaware of the fundamental and disastrous implications of his carefully and consciously designed electoral fraud, Mr Konneh has shown no regret or remorse regarding what has brought upon the people, the loyal voters and the country, as well as our international partners, who observed the election processes with a view to ensuring that the right things were done and that the results were transparent, credible, fair and reflective of the people’s vote.
Why did the people go out to vote in their large numbers and with the strongest determination ever demonstrated in Sierra Leone?
It has been a little over three months since the hasty announcement of the results of our June 24, 2023 presidential, parliamentary and local council elections, by the Chief Electoral Commissioner, Mr. Mohamed Konneh, and he did so without making public any supporting polling station vote counts, despite repeated requests and demands from political parties, international and domestic election observers and the voters. It is therefore obvious by now that the results announced by Mr Konneh, on June 26 and June 27, did not represent the WILL and TRUE CHOICE of the people. In spite of the massive and intense intimidation, violence and malpractices that marred the elections, the people’s choice was clear in order to arrest and then quickly recover from their painful experiences of the Paopa regime. It was a choice of HOPE over FEAR; a choice for UNITY over DIVISIVENESS AND BROKEN PROMISES; a choice for DECENT and ACCOUNTABLE PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS over heavily politicized institutions; and a choice for political tolerance over continued ostracization of political opponents.
Finally, the people voted believing very strongly that I, Samura Matthew Wilson Kamara, as their next President, will credibly work with them to address our abject poverty, a polarized nation and an unbearable rise in the cost of living with the Leone on a free fall, and the cost of basic necessities including fuel, food, transportation, healthcare, education, housing and household electricity rising exponentially since 2018. However, when it became obvious that the violence, intimidation and election malpractices used had not dampened the spirit of the voters, Mr Konneh and his cohorts went ahead to announce unverified results, thereby claiming victory andreelection of President Julius Maada Bio. In doing so, he also announced un- elected seats for SLPP candidates in areas where, in our estimation, the SLPP would never ever dream of winning except by rigging.
Why Mr Konneh’s announced election results lack credibility?
What President Bio and his government are claiming is not victory. It is a coup against the will of the people. As a country, we wholeheartedly reject this blatant electoral coup and usurpation of our common will.. We cannot accept an illegitimate takeover of government by force of arms or fraudulent means. We cannot allow ourselves to be subjected to a premature end to our hard-earned democracy by a President and a regime that want to retain power despite an abysmal five years record of bad governance, unprovoked human rights violations, several uninvestigated extra-judicial killings, superintending an economy that is now on the brink of an irreparable collapse, and massive electoral rigging just to retain power.
What has happened to Sierra Leone since 2018, and, in particular, on June 24, is not how democracy and politics should thrive in any civilized context.
Before, during and after the election, our people have suffered politically, socially and economically; losing their dignity, properties and relatives; being displaced, and forced to live in constant fear, or hiding from their neighbours. I need not rewind the clock back to the trials and tribulations the APC party and its unwavering supporters in particular, have endured during these years of the Paopa regime. Our journey under the leadership of President Julius Maada Bio has been fraught with unprecedented challenges, each one testing our resolve and commitment to restoring development momentum, social justice and democracy. I feel your pain, as I remain shocked at the length the Paopa regime’s desperation has been stretched, just to remain in power.
In this context, as Presidential candidate for the main opposition APC party, on whom the security, future prospects and positive direction of Sierra Leone lie, I did not and could not accept the June 24 election results as announced by Mr Konneh. The APC its presidential, parliamentary and local government candidates, clearly won the June 24, 2023 election just as they did in the 2018 election.
Why were the June 24, 2023 elections not about Samura Kamara and/or the APC party per se?
For me, the June 24 elections were not about Samura Kamara, or the APC per se, the elections were about a secure future for our beloved Sierra Leone. They were about making a choice between democracy or a civilian junta rule. The elections were meant to determine the type of democratic governance we want, a governance system in which the constitution is respected by all, regardless of status. The elections were meant to raise new questions about how we hold ourselves accountable as leaders, and, how as leaders we are willing to put behind us the issues that divide us, and work collectively in the interest of our suffering masses. The elections were meant to usher in a new tolerant, caring and listening dispensation, in which we can chart a new course for independent and impartial justice and election management systems, and how we can mitigate police brutality while putting back our public institutions on civic check. Overall, we went into an election that would change the course of the present economic hardship while restoring public trust and confidence without which there can be no meaningful and sustainable economic turnaround.
Many of you who know Samura Kamara well, should know that violence, false promises, despotism, sweet talking or camouflaged personalities are not in his nature. I want every well-meaning Sierra Leonean to know that what we have witnessed in recent times, is what tyranny and usurpation look like. The rigging of the June 24 elections was just a small part of this government. By their behavioural pattern, they have also embarked on several other actions to reverse our hard-won democratic achievements, to destroy the unity, peace and stability we have built and enjoyed, and to install a totalitarian system built on fear, intimidation and ethno-jingoism.
Elections are not a do-or-die race for the transparent and accountable politician
Elections are only a do-or-die affair for those who have something to hide. They are a do or die affair for those whose hands are soiled with the blood of our suffering and of innocent citizens. Those who have little to offer, see violence as the only route to power. Elections are about mutual respect for one another. They are about putting first, what is in the best interest of our people. What our nation needs now, more than ever before, is a servant President, one whose honesty, words and actions are synchronized and mutually reinforcing.
Given the fact that the current regime has no respect for the wishes of the people and is bent on installing an ethno-centric and a one-party rule, it is my considered view that all well-meaning Sierra Leoneans should deny them the opportunity to validate their illegitimacy by not participating in any political processes. I wish to reiterate unambiguously that Mr. Konneh’s actions were tantamount to a coup d’état by other means.
I therefore reaffirm the position of the All Peoples Congress as stated in the Party’s press release of 30th June, 2023 and, in this respect, commend and appreciate, on your behalf, the boldness, sacrifice and pride of our non- participating parliamentarians, mayors, chairmen and elected councilors. We must also be proud of our brothers and sisters in the diaspora whose energy and strength continue to hold us together in seeing through our ambition, i.e., to see that the political wrong against the people of Sierra Leone is promptly corrected. They have thrown the light on the regime’s atrocious malpractices in their massive demonstrations and petitions overseas.
Today, and going into the future, our individual and collective resilience, resistance and vigilance should make it difficult for rogue politicians to steal a public election and expect to get away with such conduct without facing the wrath of their people-the voters. I want to call on the international community and all Sierra Leoneans to continue to do their part in in ensuring that our democracy through building integrity into our elections management bodies, in particular, the Electoral Commission and the security apparatus.
Why we must encourage and participate in the Political Dialogue?
This dialogue was the key product of my short meeting with President Bio considered by both of us as the most peaceful recourse to resolve the existing political impasse. Let me, on the eve of the forthcoming inter-Party Dialogue, essentially between the APC and the illegitimate Paopa regime, humbly assure you all that I have not and will never betray your trust and confidence. You are always on my mind, in my prayers, and in my plans to build back a stable, peaceful, united and prosperous nation.
The Dialogue is meant to give peace and diplomacy a chance in solving an impasse that puts the integrity and dishonesty of Mr Konneh and the ECSL at the center. The two are one and they must realize that their action has put the country at the highest risk of development vulnerability and political instability. It has resulted in a funding squeeze and a tarnishing of the country’s image The dialogue will also help us to unravel the TRUTH before Sierra Leoneans and the rest of the world. Most importantly, the dialogue offers a unique opportunity for Sierra Leoneans to right the wrongs of the just concluded June 24 elections and restore our democracy which has been ruined because of the quest for power and control by the Bio regime.
The party leadership has been and remains very coherent and is firmly determined to advance the interests of the people. Our regular interaction with the international community in our quiet moments has further strengthened the Party’s resolve to build a sustainable peaceful, united, democratic and resourceful nation. As you are watching our back, be rest assured that we are also doing likewise. Such is what Sierra Leone needs, and it is what the APC party leadership will continue to advocate and fight for, now, tomorrow and ever after.
In conclusion, on behalf of myself and the leadership of the party, let me commend and thank the grassroots countrywide for your unwavering support, resilience and trust in me. You are my strength; you have kept me going; I am not and I will never ever betray your trust.
I would also like to recognize and thank my Running Mate, our party Chairman, his deputy, the National Secretary General and all other Executive officers at all levels for staying focused and providing the leadership that is so needed in these trying times. I pray that we remain steadfast in our noble course. We are fighting a good fight till the end.
I want to express my profound gratitude to the international and local elections observer missions and monitors, that worked hard to ensure that the results produced by ECSL reflected the votes cast by Sierra Leoneans. I am proud of the work that they did, and I am grateful for the support provided to the electoral process to secure credible elections.
May the Good Lord intervene and cause us as true Sierra Leoneans to see and speak the TRUTH and do the right thing. Accordingly, Mr Konneh, the people of Sierra Leone demand that you produce their polling station vote counts, sooner rather than later which will be subjected to an independent forensic audit. This will determine the next course of action by the Party.
God bless the APC, and may peace, unity and democracy prevail in this land that we love, our Sierra Leone.