Sierra Leone
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President Julius Maada Bio cannot and must not be allowed to remain in office

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 29 June 2023:

The hurried pace with which President Julius Maada Bio was sworn-in as president of Sierra Leone for a second term, after the country’s Electoral Commission had announced its rigged results, despite calls from the Elections Watchdog – NEW and the international community for all ballots in all districts to be transparently released, is a desperate attempt not only to steal the will of the people of Sierra Leone, but an immoral and dangerous act of treason that must be stopped.

Julius Maada Bio clearly lost the 2023 Presidential election and cannot remain in office. His coronation last Tuesday, 27th June by the country’s Chief Justice is illegal.

Notwithstanding the fact that the election process was fraught with massive voter suppression, fraud, intimidation, and violence against the opposition by heavily armed presidential guards, leaked official election results seen by the Sierra Leone Telegraph clearly show that Julius Maada Bio did not achieve the required 55% necessary to command his constitutional right to remain in office for another five years.

President Julius Maada Bio knows this, and so too does the Chief Electoral Commissioner – Mohamed Konneh, a known patron of the ruling SLPP party.

Today, there are rumours of the President’s Mayoral candidate for the country’s capital Freetown – Mohamed Gento, being announced as the Mayor of Freetown at any moment by the Chief Electoral Commissioner, despite leaked official results of 60% of the voting centers across Freetown representing 1138 stations, clearly showing former Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr leading with 67% of the votes and Gento at 32%.

Photo: Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr leading with 67%

The Chief Electoral Commissioner – Mohamed Konneh cannot and must not be allowed to steal the will of the people.

In the last few days, the reaction of the international community has been palpably loud, unequivocal and swift.  The European Union elections observation team accuses the Electoral Commission of “inconsistencies and lack of integrity in most of the key activities of the election, including the ongoing tabulation of results.”

Yesterday, the Carter Centre – a US based human rights organisation established in 1982 by former US President Jimmy Carter to promote global peace, called on the rogue Electoral Commission boss – Mohamed Konneh to release the results of 24th June 2023 by polling stations.

This is the Carter Centre’s statement:

“In a follow-up to the preliminary statement issued yesterday (27th June 2023) on the Sierra Leone elections, The Carter Center once again strongly urges the Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone (ECSL) to publish election results by polling station so that parties and observers can cross-verify data, in accordance with international best practice.

“This is particularly important considering the report from National Election Watch (NEW) indicating that the results from NEW’s verification exercise differ from the ECSL results, which show both significantly higher turnout and recorded votes for the SLPP presidential candidate. The Carter Center is familiar with and has great confidence in NEW’s rigorous observation and verification methodology, and therefore is concerned that the ECSL’s results do not correspond with NEW’s data.

“Publishing detailed polling station results is critical to ensuring that the final results announced by the ECSL genuinely reflect the will of the people as expressed on election day. This is especially true given that The Carter Center and other observers have expressed strong concerns regarding the lack of transparency during the tabulation process and have directly observed instances of serious irregularities at tabulation centers that call the integrity of the results into question.

“The Carter Center continues to observe the tabulation process across the country. The Center reiterates its recommendation that results from any ballot boxes that were opened in violation of procedure and international best practice should be set aside for additional scrutiny and should not be included in the final results until a formal, transparent, and inclusive review can establish whether they can be considered credible.  Lacking this, the credibility of the results is in question.” President Bio cannot remain in office.

The message to President Bio cannot be clearer: He simply cannot and must not remain in office, if he has any moral fibre left in his backbone, and as he keeps reminding the people of Sierra Leone that he is a democrat that loves his country.

The entire international community in Sierra Leone, acting as moral guarantors of the country’s hard-won peace after a ten-year brutal civil war have expressed reservations about the results announced by the Electoral Commission. President Bio cannot remain in office.

The Uk government in a statement posted on Twitter yesterday said:  “The UK commends Sierra Leone for the dedication displayed to exercise their right to vote. We share concerns raised about the lack of transparency in the tabulation process. The UK is committed to supporting democracy and stands ready to work in partnership with Sierra Leone.” President Bio cannot remain in office.

The United States Government Bureau for Africa said: “On June 24 the people of Sierra Leone exercised their right to vote. The United States remains concerned with the lack of transparency around the tabulation process, which is at odds with democratic principles cherished by the people of Sierra Leone.” President Bio cannot remain in office.

A joint statement signed by the USA, UK, Ireland, Germany, France, and EU Delegation in Sierra Leone cannot be clearer. This is what they said:

Addressing the people of Sierra Leone, following the coronation of President Julius Maada Bio on Tuesday, the presidential candidate for the main opposition APC – Dr Samura Wilson Kamara said:   “My compatriots. We have heard the unfortunate announcement of the elections results for the June 24 Presidential elections by the Chief Electoral Commissioner  Mr Konneh.

“It is a sad day for our beloved country. It is a frontal attack on our fledgling democracy. These results are NOT credible, and I categorically reject the outcome so announced by the electoral commission.

“Meanwhile l thank each and every one of you for your trust and confidence and for standing by me. I acknowledge the efforts of our local and international partners who stood for transparency and democracy. I will rise above this travesty, and I commit myself to continue the fight for a better Sierra Leone.”

President Julius Maada Bio cannot and should not be allowed to remain in office, and the people of Sierra Leone cannot do this by themselves. They need the help and assistance of the international community to ensure that a militarised dictator and his corrupt state apparatus do not steal democracy from the poor and defenceless people of Sierra Leone.

President Julius Maada Bio has weaponised tribalism in Sierra Leone, and we have seen the deadly outcome in the last five years , with over one hundred unarmed citizens shot dead by presidential guards believed to be a battalion of mercenaries from Burkina Faso. President Bio cannot and should not be allowed to remain in office.