By Cornelius Deveaux (Culled from APC We-Yone)
The Publisher of the Awareness Times Newspaper Dr. Sylvia Blyden, ever since the re-appointment of Dr. Christiana Thorpe as the National Chairpersons and Chief Electoral Commissioner of the National Electoral Commission, has been prancing around the political ballroom using every available media opportunity to make insinuations that could rather be interpreted as a forewarning to the people of this country of the opposition SLPP’s ploy to reject the 2010 elections result and untimely plunge this nation into political chaos. The fact is all indications point to a possible landslide victory by President Koroma and the APC come 2010.
She is therefore playing the devil’s advocate for the nefarious strategy of the opposition SLPP to enter the corridors of government through the back door since a rejection of the results of the 2010 pools by the opposition SLPP may likely ignite political chaos and ultimately have the international community prevails on the APC to form a government of national unity in the interest of peace and national stability. Indeed, there is no denial of the fact that President Koroma’s second term is a foregone conclusion as the writings are visible on the wall for all to see.
Like President Koroma told the people of Moyamba recently, his achievements in the agriculture, education, energy and water resources, mining and infrastructural sectors are enough to speak on his behalf for re-election for a second term come 2012.
And of course the SLPP is gravely jittery that a second term of President Koroma could very well cement the succession plan of the APC which will make it rather impossible for the current crop of leaders of the opposition to darken the corridors of power in their life time.
Thus, they are determined to throw spanners into the foregone victory of President Koroma and the APC in the 2010 tripartite elections (presidential, parliamentary and local) and it seem from all logical conclusions that Dr. Sylvia Blyden has taken the lead in making ready the ground work to support cries of ‘foul play’ that the opposition SLPP will be bellowing following the announcement of the 2012 elections result and ultimately plunge this nation into another cycle of political instability.
In yesterday’s edition of the Awareness Times Newspaper, the publisher gave prominent publicity of an anticipated article in today’s edition of the We Yone which challenges her assertions that President Koroma’s re-appointment of Dr. Christiana Thorpe was not in any form or shape dictatorial.
Her insinuation, though she cited unrelated and spurious constitutional clauses as contained in an article written by her in which she is demanding an explanation from the SLBC Management and Board and Trustees why a programme which was aired on past Saturday was not repeated on the following Sunday, is untenable. Dr. Blyden in her article claimed that she had articulately informed the public that unlike cabinet ministers, President Koroma cannot just hire and fire electoral commissioners and that ‘his repeat actions of overriding constitutional provisions and riding roughshod over the expressed satisfaction of his political opponents was a disgrace to our democratic culture and a sure sign that our President was behaving like a dictator’.
She further cried foul well ahead of the 2012 elections, bemoaning unweighty concern that our 2012 elections are already tainted even before they had been run because a significant portion of the country was kicking against the woman who had been appointed by President Koroma to conduct and referee the 2012 elections.
Dr. Blyden, except otherwise deliberate, may have obviously missed the point because NEC and not Dr. Thorpe will conduct the elections and the referees will be international and local observers and neither NEC nor Dr. Thorpe.
But as I told her in a telephone conversation on Wednesday night, Dr. Blyden is erroneously misinterpreting both the National Electoral Commission Law 2002 and the Electoral Laws 2002 of the country to suit the whims and caprices of the opposition SLPP who are determined to craftily use their work-out from the well of parliament on the occasion of parliament’s re-approval of the re-appointment of Dr. Christiana Thorpe as electoral boss some time ago as so-called premonition of their alleged aspersions over the water tight integrity of Dr. Christiana Thorpe and co-commissioners recently appointed an approved after going through the right procedure.
While this piece is not intended to delve into the nitty-gritty of Dr. Blyden’s observation about what she described as a worrying development of suspected state interference in the operations of the newly launched independent public broadcaster in Sierra Leone, it is but apt for the records to be made straight and a diligent service to provide accurate information to the people of this country on matters of democratic governance and for this reason one is obliged to make it abundantly clear that Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has never acted as a dictator in all matter of governance and that reading between the lines of Dr. Blyden’s cries of foul against the results of the yet to be conducted 2012 elections one could clearly see the premonition that the opposition SLPP will reject the results of the 2012 elections without any valid reason and at the expense of the peace and security of the people.
According to the electoral laws of Sierra Leone , the President has the exclusive priority to appoint the Chief Electoral Commissioner in consultation with leaders of other political parties.
The emphasis is consultation which indirectly makes it clear that the President could not be dictated to as the Chief Executive of Sierra Leone. Moreover, the fact that Christiana Thorpe was appointed in the first place by the SLPP administration when APC was in opposition makes mockery of their belated wild claims of her insincerity. It is because the poor lady failed to do the dirty games for the SLPP as were evident in 1996 and 2002 elections? How can they continue to heap aspersions on a commission with a record of excellence in 2007 as confirmed by observers from the international community? According to the Collins English Dictionary (2009 edition), consultation is defined as, "a meeting for discussion or the seeking of advice".
From the above definition of the word consultation, there can be no way Dr. Sylvia Blyden can substantiate her claims that President Koroma acted dictatorial in re-appointing Dr. Thorpe.
Though President Koroma could not find time amidst his busy schedule to meet with the leaders of the SLPP for discussion he however sought their advice in a letter which was sent to the national chairman of the SLPP to solicit opposition input.
The opposition SLPP in their usual nonchalant attitude deliberately failed to submit their opinions in writing to the President and when the matter was taken to Parliament where the opposition SLPP is also represented the MPs staged a walk out which was a clear indication of their disapproval of Dr. Thorpe but that was not enough to warrant her rejection by Parliament since majority of the members present who voted in her favour clearly outnumbered the insignificant number of those who walked out. The leader of the opposition PMDC which is also one of Sierra Leone’s credible political parties, is said to have given his party’s endorsement regarding the reappointment of Dr. Thorpe. Reading between the lines, it is rather difficult to see the dictatorial tendencies of President Koroma in his re-appointment of Dr. Thorpe as Chief Electoral Commissioner, but is quite easy to understand the rationale behind Dr. Blyden’s false claims which cannot in any way be distance from the opposition SLPP’s ploy to reject the 2012 elections result.
In some of her previous utterances, Dr. Blyden has also attempted to link the replacement of former Commissioner Nyallay, Minah and Olu Williams as another show of dictatorial tendencies by President Koroma. Memories of Nyallay and Minah’s display of corrupt electoral inclinations are still vivid in the minds of well meaning Sierra Leoneans.
Of course there could therefore be no denial of the assumption that both the former electoral commissioners in the eastern and southern regions like their predecessors, especially James Jonah, who invented a political mathematical formula that engendered the subtraction and addition of votes here and there in favour of the now opposition SLPP, were part of the SLPP’s celebrated electoral fraud syndicate.
Dr. Christiana Thorpe in her determination to put an end to electoral fraud which marred the credibility of both the 1996 and 2002 presidential and parliamentary elections, rather than subtracting and adding votes here and there as did James Jonah in the 1996 elections, decided to cancel all votes cast across the country in polling stations which recorded votes excessive of the number of registered voters. From this indication, one cannot actually insist that the cancellation of votes cast in many polling station across the county, not only in the east and south as the SLPP and Awareness Times are vainly postulating in hoodwinking the people to wrongly believe, was a final nail to electoral fraud which in the past was one of the many reasons highlighted by the TRC as a direct cause of the eleven years reckless and senseless war.
Indeed, Dr. Thorpe u-turn from protecting the status quo by dubious means and letting the free will of the people prevail greatly annoyed those SLPP die-hards who were of the conviction that Thorpe like previous electoral commissioners would rig elections in their favour. It is this grudge and not for any positive rationale that the opposition SLPP remains opposed to the re-appointment of Dr. Thorpe as Chief Electoral Commissioner.