Salone News

Sierra Leone Elections Update: Citizens Upset Over Bio Threats

21 November 2012 at 17:57 | 3342 views

By Alpha Rashid Jalloh, PV Freetown Bureau Chief.

Angry reactions from many people in every part of the country and the
capital Freetown are what presently characterize the mood of the nation after the November 17 polls.

The anger emanates out of Julius Maada Bio (photo), leader of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party’s (SLPP) expression of defiance starting from polling day to post-elections period of the results that he described as unacceptable.

Many people say the fact that the elections had not even been conductedwhen he made the threats while issuing public condemnation of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) long before the elections ,makes his stance after the polling probably part of a secret agenda.

True or false, some citizens say when Julius Maada Bio said he would “leave no stone unturned” to pursue his case over alleged over voting, it implies that he would go to extremes. This has evoked anger, frustration and fear in the country which had experienced an almost eleven year’s war in which the people were subjected to horrendous experiences. Criminal trials took place in the post-war era that saw members of the then ruling SLPP like Hinga Norman being arrested, tried and convicted. There were also speculations at the time that the then president Ahmad Tejan Kabba would be arrested but it never happened.

Julius Maada Bio overthrew his boss Captain Valentine Strasser in 1996 and attempted to carry out a Peace Before Election Campaign which failed because the populace resisted it through massive demonstrations. His utterances over the radio after the announcement of the results in which SLPP was alleged to have over voted evoked an organic solidarity amongst the different party leaders who decided to let sleeping dogs lie and bury the hatchet. It happened that five boxes were caught stuffed with ballots at the Bo Government Secondary School and were brought to Freetown which caused the leader of the United National Peoples Party John Karefa Smart who went into Run Off with Ahmad Tejan Kabba, to drop a court suit he had intended to file.

This time round, Bio’s his utterances have again established a mental link between the citizens who now express fear and anger on the likelihood of mischief to erupt in the post- election period. But elites in the country say with the presence of the International Criminal Court observers in the country, any attempt to cause the country to slide back into chaos, would make whoever is found to be behind the cause of such scenario would be a potential candidate for the International Criminal Court.

Bio and the SLPP have several allegations that they are now insistently making. Firstly, they allege that in some polling stations their supporters were intimidated, to which APC says they should channel complaints to the appropriate authorities for investigations. Secondly SLPP alleges that some polling stations over voted especially in Makeni Ernest Koroma’s home town, to which APC points out that it was SLPP agents that were arrested by the police in polling stations with voter registers, so, if any anomaly erupts even if it affects APC, the presumption is that it might have been mischievously caused by those arrested and they should be in a position to explain the anomalies in those polling stations.

In a related incident, one teacher of Family Homes Movement Secondary School at Calabatown who was employed as a Polling Assistant was caught inking voted slips so as to make them void.

Some people erroneously misconstrue results announced by IRN especially those that totalled up to ten thousand which could be a total of polling stations or polling centers in a ward. Many people, even journalists, still could not diffrentiate polling stations from polling centers. (Several polling stations make one polling center). IRN usually announce combined stations without enlightening the people as to whether they are polling stations or centers.
But pertaining to the allegations, NEC says they will investigate them.

Foreign observers have described the elections as free and fear and free from fear but have also (according to Independent Radio Network—IRN) decided to take into consideration Maada Bio’s allegations and to investigate them.
Partial results announced by local radio stations so far have indicated that Bio has lost woefully.