Dangers of Endorsing or Participating in an Illegitimate Regime

By Chernoh Alpha M. Bah

At this point, we are all in agreement that the elections in Sierra Leone lacked transparency; which is a key criterion for any democratic election. We also must make it known that any government that is the result of a non-transparent election is one that holds a stolen mandate. In other words, the Sierra Leonean elites have already organized an electoral coup against the popular democratic will of the majority of Sierra Leonean voters.

Like Ernest Koroma, Bio has bribed opposition politicians out of the current presidential elections. These politicians include Kandeh Yumkella of the National Grand Coalition (NGC). As part of the bargain, Yumkella refused to have the NGC nominate him as its candidate in the upcoming presidential elections. Instead, Yumkella announced that he will be voting for Bio. Angry NGC members allege that an undisclosed agreement signed between Bio and Yumkella promises to make Yumkella a strategic minister in the next cabinet if Bio can retain power. The agreement also promises similar political positions to other NGC leaders. Some even say that Bio has promised to make Yumkella the next presidential candidate if he gets reelected.

We at Africanist Press had boldly stated since last year that Maada Bio cannot get a second term without a rigged election. We also said he cannot rig an election without the opposition parties helping him to rig the elections. So, the opposition parties cannot play victim in this undemocratic affair. In that same direction, we have to underline that the Chief Justice of Sierra Leone has already administered an oath of office to Maada Bio allowing him to continue as president even though Bio is declared winner of the June 2023 elections without a credible and transparent election result. The immediate question we have to ask is this: How will the judiciary now adjudicate any election dispute since it is now an open participant in endorsing a regime that holds a stolen mandate?

It goes without saying that by administering a presidential oath of office to Maada Bio for a second term without a democratic election result, the Chief Justice of Sierra Leone instantly destroyed the judiciary’s arbitration role in this constitutional crisis that is unfolding in Freetown in full glare of all democratic nations and organizations.

Thus, it has to be made known that any politician or any individual in Sierra Leone who seeks to be accommodated into a regime that’s the result of an undemocratic election will be equally guilty of endorsing an illegitimate regime. The fact is, as citizens of Sierra Leone, we can’t endorse any political group that organized an electoral coup against the popular will and aspirations of Sierra Leoneans.

Our position is simple: democratic organizations, and all friends of Sierra Leone, must help Sierra Leoneans by making it known to the Sierra Leonean politicians of all political parties that there is no pathway to state power in a constitutional democracy than a transparent, democratic electoral process. Anything less than that is considered a real coup. Entrance legitimacy is a fundamental criterion in assessing any constituted democratic arrangement. Politicians who aren’t ashamed to publicly steal elections cannot be trusted with any country’s national treasury and national economy. Neither will such a group that is so publicly averse to constitutional governance be entrusted with the management of foreign tax-payers funds and multilateral loans and development grants.

Hon. Lahai Marah of the All Peoples Congress (APC) defended the President Bio’s record on corruption after an Africanist Press report published on 24 June 2022 revealing that MPs were discussing legislative proposals to amend Sierra Leone’s electoral laws in ways that might suppress thousands of potential voters who are most likely to vote against incumbent President Julius Maada Bio in next year’s elections.

We have faced this national dilemma because a majority of the elites in our country – lawyers, bankers, journalists, politicians, and academics – collectively betrayed the masses and the national interest. It is a kleptocracy that is being entrenched by politicians who have become addicted to the use of political power for personal aggrandizement. The nexus between financial corruption and political corruption is always anchored on rigged elections. Politicians who steal public funds can’t organize credible elections. They have to steal public votes to protect their stolen wealth.

Thus, in their joint efforts to protect stolen wealth and maintain a kleptocracy, Maada Bio and his opposition allies have today subverted the country’s democracy, replacing it with an illegitimate regime. They have chosen to build a rogue state. We have to emphasize that when the result of an election fails to reflect the true votes of the people, the resulting regime will be holding a “Stolen Mandate.” We must equally note that such a situation only happens in a country where the elites collectively betray the masses. We are in no doubt that we are in such a situation in Sierra Leone.

Again, we urge all democratic organizations, and friends of Sierra Leone, to loudly inform the politicians in Sierra Leone that an election cannot be called a democratic election if it lacks transparency. The absence of transparency makes it an authoritarian election. And there should be consequences for those willingly obstructing the holding of democratic election.

It has always been easy for politicians in Sierra Leone to steal public funds and get away with it without being caught or seen; or even when they are seen or caught, they face no consequences. Today, our resilience and vigilance should make it difficult for politicians to steal a public election and expect to get away with that kind of public theft unpunished.

Democracies need to be protected!!


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