From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Francess Marke Scores 48%; Minkailu Scores 52%
Jun 8, 2010, 17:18

At precisely 22:22GMT last night of Monday June 7th 2010, the results for the Fourah Bay College Students Elections were announced to the shock of many supporters of the woman who had been largely touted to be the college’s first female President, Miss Francess Marke. The signed copies of the validated results are below of this edition and show Francess as scoring 48% of the votes with her opponent from the ruling APC party faction on campus scoring 52% of the votes. Miss Marke, who lost by a slim margin of just 123 votes, has already conceded defeat last night though not without pointing out some of the abnormal developments that preceded her loss.

Meanwhile, journalists who monitored the elections report that the results were announced after some mystery developments including unprecedented two sets of blackouts in the middle of counting of some polling stations which were to later report a massive number of votes cast in favour of the winning candidate, Mr. Minkailu Koroma.

Voting itself ended between the hours of 3pm and 4pm but "counting" continued in a prolonged manner until nightfall during which the blackouts occurred, and ended after 10pm. During the black-outs, any journalist who attempted to turn on pen torchlights or use their phone lights, got roughed up and told to put the lights off. Each of the mystery blackouts lasted for about 15 to 20 minutes.

There were also a series of intimidatory tactics including the detention by police of Mr. Mohamed Bangura (aka OrMan), the Campaign Coordinator of Miss Marke. According to OrMan, he was detained and roughed up by Police officers when he reported to the police that a student from the rival Minkailu Koroma camp was in possession of extra ballot papers.

"Instead of the police detaining the student I complained against, they detained me instead. By the time I was released from Police custody, they had done what they wanted to do," OrMan explained last evening in total frustration after he was finally released from police custody.

Meanwhile, supporters of the winning camp of Mr. Minkailu Koroma, consisting of mostly ruling APC party supporters, took over the campus in a loud celebration of their 52% win over Marke’s 48%. A total of 3,323 votes were cast with Minkailu scoring 1,720 votes an excess of just 123 votes more than Francess who scored 1,597 votes.

Francess Marke, whilst acknowledging the series of anomalies in the process that led to her loss, has already conceded defeat.

"We fought a good fight and we learnt a lot about elections, both about elections malpractice and other tactics but now, it is time for me to move on. The elections are behind us now," she told Awareness Times last night.

Her conceding views were re-echoed by Ahmed Atata Mansaray, the number two man in the ‘Black Camp’ which had thrown their support behind Francess Marke’s aspirations who though acknowledging defeat, claimed their opponents "played" them.

"We know what happened. We were well and truly played for these elections. There is no use to cry over spilt milk as we have accepted defeat but we all know what happened. We know what happened and they know what happened. Fourah Bay College never experiences such mysterious blackouts on campus let alone during such crucial times as right in the middle of the counting of two crucial polling stations but we have conceded defeat," said Ahmed Atata Mansaray.

As we went to press last night, there were celebrations by the winning candidate who is a strong ruling APC party member as are most of his supporters. They were singing a famous Hunting Devil song but with the words transformed to say: "Only SLPP conducts elections and loses those elections they conduct; We will never conduct elections and lose. Never! Never!".

© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.