From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Breaking News
Sierra Leone Opposition Sweeps Polls in Pendembu as "Money Politics" fails
By Sylvia Olayinka Blyden
Mar 19, 2011, 18:57

News reaching Awareness Times from Pendembu in the Eastern Kailahun District of Sierra Leone indicates that the main opposition SLPP party has swept the votes in today’s Bye-Elections despite the massive in-pouring of cash from the ruling APC party into the elections campaign. SLPP beat the APC hands down in every single polling station. The polling station results are recording figures like 47 votes for APC and 432 votes for SLPP. SLPP Leader John Benjamin told Awareness Times a few minutes ago that the Kailahun people have spoken and his strategic team will now be heading for Buedu where “our people will speak again come May Parliamentary elections that money simply does not buy their votes”. It will be recalled that John Benjamin had personally conducted a sweeping campaign throughout the nooks and crannies of Pendembu last weekend.


The massive victory of Benjamin’s SLPP over the ruling APC is against the backdrop of recent reports that Internal Affairs Minister Musa Tarawalie was visiting Kailahun with huge sums of raw cash packed in rice bags inside his Jeep. All over Kailahun, Musa Tarawalie will dismount off his vehicle, take out huge bundles of cash from rice bags and distribute these monies to youths and other groups who would then subsequently publicly denounce the SLPP and declare for the APC. Video scenes of such denunciations/declarations were aired over the National TV as evidence of the people of Kailahun now being red (APC) and no longer green (SLPP).


It was so well orchestrated in the local media that many people had assumed the people of Kailahun had been bought over with these cash donations being doled out to them especially in the growing socio-economic hardship climate. In the last one week alone, reports emerged of millions of leones being dished out to Section Chiefs in the Pendembu area.


"Quote me. Quote me. The APC spent no less than 300 Million Leones in Pendembu in the last one month alone. The few votes they scored here today were purchased with money. I am sure the few people who voted for them only did so to ensure they could collect some more money from APC," Ambassador Patrick Foyah insisted over the phone line adding a jocular comment that "despite all the money, they could not buy locus standi here in Kailahun".


This “money politics” has been the practise over the last few years in this country. In one particular instance that was witnessed live by Awareness Times, His Excellency the President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, Fountain of Honour, doled out the sum of US$10,000 on the spot to a Mosque in Segbwema, the hometown of Opposition Leader John Benjamin. Musa Tarawalie also went to the same Mosque a few weeks later and doled out further millions and millions of leones to the Muslims who all then openly pledged their support for the “generous” APC party.


“We told them to collect the money, make the declarations and then vote their conscience. All over Pendembu and the entire Kailahun District, we are jubilating right now. Arrow Bockarie, Daniel Gaima and Tamba Borbor have melted away. The whole of Pendembu is green! Kailahun is Green! Eastern Sierra Leone is Green!” an excited Ambassador Patrick Foyah joyously exclaimed over the phone line from Pendembu a few minutes ago.


Bockarie and Gaima are newly appointed APC Ministers hailing from the Pendembu environs who went into Pendembu to campaign for the APC. They have been based there now for the last two weeks marketing the APC. They were joined lately by APC Political Ministers and UDM Leader Mohamed Bangura who all teamed up with heavy financial muscle to promote the ruling APC over the last two weeks.


Awareness Times is now trying to contact J.J. Saffa, the SLPP Secretary-General who was in charge of the campaigns for the Moyamba Local Council Elections. We will bring you the report on those elections shortly.

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