Sierra Leone President Violates Election Laws

The Chairman
Political Parties Registration Commission
Tower Hill
Freetown
Sierra Leone

December 21, 2017
Dear Sir;

PRESIDENT ERNEST KOROMA’S VIOLATION OF PUBLIC ELECTIONS RULES & POLITICAL PARTIES CODE OF CONDUCT

I write in reference to the above subject matter and to particularly draw your attention to the obvious violations by the leadership of the All Peoples Congress (APC) of the provisions of the Public Elections Act of 2012 and the Political Parties Act of 2002 along with their Codes of Conduct as they relate to the organization of free and fair elections.

As you may probably have noted, for several weeks now the APC’s chairman and life-time leader, Ernest Bai Koroma, who is also at present the president of the Republic of Sierra Leone, has been on a national elections campaign tour showcasing his preferred candidate in the upcoming 2018 presidential elections to voters across the country. This elections campaign tour, which commenced in parts of the north, is currently in the southern and eastern provinces of the country. Several meetings have already been held in several towns and villages in the Portloko, Kambia, Bombali, Kailahun, Bo, and Kenema districts. Information from the State House Communication Unit (SHCU) also indicates that more events are scheduled to occur in other parts of the country in the incoming weeks. Details of these ongoing events have been widely reported in the traditional and non-traditional media. As the paraphernalia of these activities show, and as the discussions at these events themselves reveal, these events undoubtedly constitute acts of conventional election campaigning by the APC leader.

By all indications according to the evidence now available to the public, these campaign activities by the APC leader and chairman are in complete violation of both the Public Elections Act of 2012 and the Political Parties Act of 2002 and its Code of Conduct.

The APC leader and chairman has used, and is still using, his position as president of the country to illegally commence election campaigning under the guise of a “Thank You Tour” ahead of the official declaration of campaigns by the National Electoral Commission (NEC). It is now obvious that Mr. Ernest Bai Koroma, the chairman and leader-for-life of the ruling APC, is using his position as president to openly persuade voters to endorse, accept, support, and eventually vote for his chosen candidate, Mr. Samura Kamara in the upcoming 2018 presidential elections. It is beyond reasonable doubt that the ongoing “Presidential Thank You Tour” is nothing but an APC presidential campaign designed solely by Mr. Koroma to unfairly enhance the electoral chances of his appointed candidate in the upcoming elections.

The deliberate and illegal deployment of state and public resources into his party’s electoral campaign constitute a serious infringement on the rules governing free and fair conduct of democratic elections. It should be underscored that this violation of the electoral laws and other provisions governing the conduct of political parties in elections demonstrates, once again, the president’s determination to not only flout the free and fair organization of elections, but to also unfairly tilt the electoral contest in favor of his own appointed candidate, Mr. Samura Kamara. Thus, it must be said that this open disregard for constitutionality and rule of law are a serious cause for concern, especially when the elections management institutions – the National Electoral Commission (NEC) and the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) – have remained silent in the face of these brazen violations by the APC chairman and other ruling party leaders. It is the constitutional responsibility of NEC and PPRC to ensure compliance with the rules governing the conduct of elections and to regulate the activities of political parties in such situations.

The PPRC, in particular, is on record for repeatedly monitoring the activities of opposition politicians and opposition parties and constantly calling them to check when they appear to violate the laws governing their conduct. The PPRC’s numerous interventions in the internal activities of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and Peoples Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) ahead of the 2012 elections are clear examples of the Commission’s role in response to its statutory obligations. The PPRC has also repeatedly intervened to enforce the SLPP’s compliance with the national laws and constitution of the country in recent times. It is unfortunate, therefore, that the PPRC has deliberately failed and avoided to comment on or intervene in the leadership struggles of the APC, especially during the party’s unlawful dismissal of Mr. Samuel Sam Sumana in 2015. The Commission also failed to question the APC’s failure to organize internal democratic elections for positions within its national and lower executives, as required both by the Political Parties Act of 2002 and the 1991 Sierra Leone Constitution. The PPRC equally refused to denounce the undemocratic method used by President Ernest Koroma, the APC’s party leader, to super-impose a presidential candidate in a manner that conflicts with the Political Parties Act of 2002 and other provisions of the 1991 National Constitution relating to the democratization of the internal activities of political parties.

It is obvious that this selective application of the law and the obvious failure to enforce statutory obligations by national institutions, like the PPRC and NEC, does not help the democratization process of the country. The free and fair conduct of elections and the progressive development of a democratic political culture presupposes that national institutions must be independent and should be seen to operate fairly and effectively. Sadly, this is yet to be the case in Sierra Leone.

I, therefore, implore the PPRC and NEC to jointly condemn the unlawful political campaigning by the president and to help stop the illegitimate use of public and state resources by incumbent party politicians to create an unfair environment in the upcoming elections. The PPRC and NEC have a statutory obligation to help persuade, if not force, the APC and its leadership to respect the national laws of the country and the rules governing the conduct of democratic elections. The importance of ensuring that the upcoming elections are organized in a free, fair, and transparent environment cannot be overemphasized. To achieve this monumental task, it is paramount that the PPRC and NEC act to enforce the relevant laws and rules relating to the conduct of free and fair elections, regardless of party. It is my expectation that you not only will, but also should be able to discharge your statutory obligations dispassionately as we head into these crucial elections.

I wish you and members of your Commission a merry Christmas and a peaceful 2018.

Regards,

Chernoh Alpha M. Bah
Chairman
African Socialist Movement (ASM)
Evanston, Illinois
USA

Copy:
1. The United States Embassy in Sierra Leone
2. The British High Commission in Sierra Leone
3. The Chinese Embassy in Sierra Leone
4. The Nigerian High Commission in Sierra Leone
5. The Ghanaian High Commission in Sierra Leone
6. The United Nations Development Program Country Director
7. The Guinean Embassy in Sierra Leone
8. The Malian Embassy in Sierra Leone
9. The Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in Sierra Leone
10. The Ecowas Special Representative in Sierra Leone
11. The Mano River Union Secretariat
12. The Office of National Security
13. The National Electoral Commission
14. The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone
15. The Office of the Ombudsman
16. The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists
17. The Sierra Leone Bar Association
18. All Political Parties
19. All Civil Society Groups
20. The Interreligious Council of Sierra Leone
21. The Media

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