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BINKOLO ELECTIONS! - AN OPEN APPEAL FOR FAIRNESS TO DR. CHRISTIANA THORPE OF THE NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION (NEC) AND THE GOVERNMENT OF SIERRA LEONE
By Dr. Hassan B. Sisay (Emeritus Professor)
Nov 16, 2009, 17:00
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This appeal is directed to the public, residents of Binkolo, and to all fair minded people in President Ernest Koromas government. A grave injustice has been done to an upstanding citizen in Binkolo. His name is Desmond Bondi. Mr. Bondi is a teacher, principal of a local secondary school, farmer, and former District Councilor. Like our president, he was aspiring to make a positive change in his environment. He has spent most of his life dedicated to improving the state of affairs in Binkolo. Through his efforts the village of Binkolo began to see some development projects. These include the construction of a storage facility for the benefit of his people. Besides, he owns a house, and a huge agricultural project.

Hassan Sisay

For decades, Binkolo has been in the darkness under the rule of the late Alimamy Dura II, who spent little or no time in administering the chiefdom. Now his son Mr. Ronald Dura, who spent about 30 years in the United States as a prison security officer, has recently revealed his intention to succeed his late father. Mr. Dura is known to have publicly stated that if Mr. Bondi is allowed to contest, he Mr. Dura would lose the elections. Mr. Duras problem therefore was Desmond Bondi, who has enjoyed the largest support from the people. Mr. Bondis problem: apparent poverty and lack of unscrupulous people in the ranks of the civil service. This Achilles heel was exploited to the maximum by Mr. Dura. Why should poverty and lack of political contacts be a hindrance to becoming a chief? Please read the following sad story from the Northern Province.

The characters involved in this drama are many. There is a Provincial Secretary for the North, a questionable committee for approving candidates for the Binkolo chieftaincy elections, so-called relatives with questionable credentials whose hands have been greased with gifts, and a candidate who is afraid to contest the elections against a popular opponent in Mr. Bondi. When persuasion failed, Mr. Duras camp resorted to the old tricks of the trade: intimidation, slander, unnecessary public humiliation and corruption. Lets review the details.

PROVINCIAL SECRETARY: Mr. A.R. Dumbuya hands are not clean. He may have considered the Chieftaincy elections as his best chance to make some money. He has openly requested money (kola) and other gifts from candidates and their relatives contrary to NEC regulations. He seems to have been bent on supporting the individual that gave him the most money. It appears, Mr. Bondis opponents have prevailed because they may have provided Mr. Dumbuya more money. This is the only way one could explain his hostile treatment of Mr. Bondi during the proceedings, and inexplicable decision to eliminate him from contesting the elections.

THE RELATIVES: Mr. Dumbuya and his corrupt group needed corrupt relatives to knock off Bondi. They got two people who made outlandish claims against Bondi, the poor but highly popular candidate, alleging that his late father (also named Bondi) was the son of a boy friend and thus unqualified to be a member of the ruling family. The woman who made this allegation against Bondis father is of questionable background, with a foggy memory. Besides, Bondis father is older than the so called star informant and one wonders about the basis for this outlandish claim. Even more, why did the Provincial Secretary not allow Bondis witnesses to refute this womans claims in public? Why did he rule that Bondi and his group should not mention anything about what Bondi had accomplished in the Chiefdom. Witnesses believe that this was to protect Mr. Ronald Dura who like his father has not done much for Binkolo, and Safroko Limba Chiefdom. Furthermore, why in the absence of a DNA test should the words of someone with a reputation as a heavy drinker be accepted against a potential candidate for chieftaincy. How reliable is her information, since the events she described during the hearings happened more than 70 years ago. What will stop other candidates elsewhere to use the same smear tactics to derail the chances of opponents. This case calls for immediate review.

THE QUESTIONABLE COMMITTEE: Mr. Dumbuya relied on a highly questionable committee to review the selection of candidates, which included the Chief of Biriwa Chiefdom, Chief of far away Wara Wara Bafodia chiefdom, Alhaji Alimamy Amidu II, and Massa Yelli Chief of Makaray chiefdom, whose bias against Bondi was visible from the outset. His questioning of him was very hostile. When Chief Massa Yelli was asked by members of the news media to explain his stance and vote against Bondi, he claimed that the younger Bondi was "arrogant" and had refused to step down for Mr. Dura, who is older. But this argument is faulty simply because in 1947 when Alimamy Dura II was elected chief, he was the youngest and the older brothers were asked to step down to enable him to be chief. Old age was not a paramount consideration for the chieftaincy then, so why is it today? More importantly, for the process to be fair and legitimate, Chief Massa Yelli should have excused himself because he was allegedly involved in the arrangement of a meeting that was intended to ask Mr. Bondi to step down for Mr. Dura. Mr. Bondi refused to attend the meeting. Chief Massa Yelli felt personally offended, and clearly had an axe to grind, and should not have served in the committee to approve the candidates for the ensuing chieftaincy elections. His actions were tainted, and should be declared illegal.

SUMMARY: The selection system was stacked against Bondi from the out start by the actions of the Provincial Secretary and his committee. People in Binkolo deserve more rather than having their best candidate eliminated on frivolous grounds. The throngs of angry supporters who were gathered at Bondis house were there for transparency reasons. Perhaps a DNA test would have resolved this problem, but none is administered in Sierra Leone. Absent that, we could have made the process more transparent by providing all candidates ample opportunity to refute last minute explosive allegations made against them, rather than relying on informants provided by one candidate against his main rival. Mr. A.R Dumbuya should be ashamed of himself. By his actions, he has let down the presidents call for transparency and efficiency in government. Outlawing a candidate for chieftaincy elections in the 21st century on the mere words of a family member of doubtful reputation is a questionable criteria. Have we not learned anything from the corrupt and do nothing reign of Chief Alimamy Dura II?

Dr. Hassan B. Sisay (Emeritus Professor)
Green Bay, Wisconsin


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