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EDITORIALS  

SLPPís Very Genuine & Not-so-Genuine Concerns
By Dr. Sylvia O. Blyden (in UK)
Aug 31, 2012, 17:17
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I have read the multiple-paged Press Statement of Leader of the main opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) issued yesterday August 30th 2012. First of all, allegations that ruling APC is planning to use Kamajors against SLPP is to be dismissed with utter contempt. I wonder if SLPP, with all their boasts of South-Eastern stronghold, is not ashamed to make such an allegation?

 

Secondly, I am amused by the call of SLPP that only they should withdraw any nominated SLPP candidate from an election and should such candidate decide to withdraw him or herself from the race without endorsement of SLPP, NEC should not allow it but force the candidate to contest. Such an insistence is amusing and sounds like political party dictatorship. What about constitutional rights of the nominated person? As we say in local parlance: How ba? Na by force? Makes me recall the great academic doctor, Abass Bunduís, ĎDemocracy By Force?í question. But more importantly; is SLPP saying their members are of such low moral compass that they could be Ďinducedí to sneak behind their partyís back and withdraw their nominations after they have been nominated?

 

Thirdly, in the statement as delivered, there were quite a number of glaring and embarrassing typographical mistakes such as on Page 2, SLPP was speaking of an Le80billion allocated to NEC ďin the 1912 BudgetĒ when they meant to say 2012 budget.Are these people really prepared for governance when they cannot even prepare a properly edited script for distribution to the press?

 

Fourthly, there was also an error in SLPPís claimed date on which the cited ECOWAS Protocol was signed.It was NOT signed in September last year but it was signed by former President Tejan Kabbah in December 2001 in Dakar, Senegal. This was well over ten years ago. The full name of the cited protocol is the ďProtocol A/SP1/12/01 on Democracy and Good GovernanceĒ and it is referenced as a ĎSupplementary to the Protocol relating to the Mechanism For Conflict Prevention, Management, Resolution, Peacekeeping and Securityí which was itself signed in December 1999. I have e-mailed a copy to the SLPP Headquarters as they obviously do not have it.

 

Other than those glaring errors and inane Kamajor allegation, I have to state that from what I read, the SLPP has presented some pretty good points for all concerned citizens to take note of especially Dr. Christiana Thorpe. I am not sure if the ECOWAS Protocol of December 2001 was ever ratified by our Parliament but if it was, then let me hasten to say upfront that it will then be legally binding on Republic of Sierra Leone insofar as ELECTIONS are concerned.

 

Let us look at what the protocol says. Article 2.(1) of Section II of the said protocol is very clear. It states:

 

No substantial modification shall be made to the electoral laws in the last six (6) months before the elections, except with the consent of a majority of Political actors.


What this means is that if the ECOWAS Protocol was ratified by Sierra Leoneís Parliament, then it might be totally illegal for Dr. Christiana Thorpe to have imposed those Nomination Fees at the time she did; which was definitely less than six months from November 17th 2012.


Furthermore, in the same ECOWAS Protocol, it is stated under Article 3 that:

 

The bodies responsible for organising the elections shall be independent or neutral and shall have the confidence of all the political actors.

 

Clearly, despite the overtures made to her lately, Dr. Christiana Thorpe seems to have lost the confidence of a major political actor (SLPP) insofar as the upcoming elections are concerned. Thus, it is important for steps to be taken to re-instate such confidence once again.

 

Again, in the same ECOWAS Protocol, it is stated under Article 5 that:


The votersí lists shall be prepared in a transparent and reliable manner, with the collaboration of the political parties and voters who may have access to them whenever the need arises.

 

The SLPP has raised a lot of credible concerns yesterday including the fact that no-one seems to as yet know or possess the Final List of Voters Register. Although neither SLPP, APC or any other political party has brought this up, I must at this stage point out that during the Exhibition Stage, just as happened in 2007, many of the exhibition centers did NOT display the provisional list On The Walls as stipulated by Law.My own Exhibition Center did not do so at Murray Deen School so I was unable to check the names of those registered in my area. All I could do was check my own name which the Exhibition Officer pointed out to me after he flipped through pages and pages of names. So, who knows what suspicious names might have been included in there? I mean, Ghost Voters never mind the biometric systemsÖ The point here though which the SLPP is making is that the Final Voters Register is yet to be made public or a copy given to the various political parties.

 

How can a person be chosen for nomination when the Final Voters Register is not yet out stating in which ward or constituency the person is legally registered? Thus, I totally agree with the SLPP that ďIt is this register that will inform and qualify aspirants to contest the pending electionsĒ. I thus believe NEC should honour the call by the SLPP for NEC ďto reconsider the deadline of 7th September for the submission of local council nominated candidateĒ because obviously SLPP is right that it should only be asked to make such a submission ďafter the publication of NECís final voter registerĒ. Anything else is unfair and provides credible grounds for which SLPP will say the elections are not fair.

 

Finally, I hope these very genuine concerns of the SLPP are honestly addressed. It is a fact that certain SLPP agents are chomping at the bit to wreck havoc on this country and they are already cowardly publishing of their desire to cause bodily harm on persons who hold views perceived as inimical to their cause. If there is any way in which we can prevent such from happening, we should. One way of doing so is by listening to them when they raise credible concerns and quickly addressing any genuine concerns raised even as we throw the inane ones into the trash can of History. I trust patriotism and common sense will prevail.


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