From the Editor’s Keyboard

The Mandate of the People Should be Sacrosanct

27 August 2007 at 19:58 | 918 views


By Abdulai Bayraytay, Deputy Editor.

Sierra Leone recently set an unprecedented record by holding mostly violence-free elections in spite of the 11 year-old conflict the country had to endure from 1991 until the cessation of hostilities in 2002.

However, this novelty risks being torpedoed if frenetic rumors coming from Freetown are anything to go by: that a cross-section of desperate civilian politicians within the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) are canvassing the friendship of some die-hard SLPP loyalists within the military to create “confusion” in the event an All People’s Congress (APC) party win during the September 8th, 2007 presidential run-off election.

We are compelled and particularly concerned to write about this somewhat disturbing rumour, taking into consideration the new roles former coupists like the self-promoted Brigadier Julius Maada Bio, Tom Nyuma and Komba Mondeh are playing in the still shaky democratization process by their open support to the ruling government and to their political patron during the notorious rule of the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC) John Benjamin, the current SLPP minister of Finance.

While it is their democratic right to support any party of their choice, it is rather insane for any of them, as was the case in pronouncements by Maada Bio, to insinuate taking up arms against the will of the people should the party of their choice (SLPP) fail to win the presidency.

This Machiavellian type of politics in Sierra Leone is nothing new. In his book “Conflict and Collusion in Sierra Leone” London School of Economics and Political Science scholar cum professor David Keen noted that during the early years of the war waged by rebels of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) headed by the lunatic Foday Sankoh, the RUF received tacit support from the SLPP to overthrow the then ruling APC government.

So far, the military and the police have maintained some credibility by virtue of the effusive support they gave to the National Electoral Commission during the just concluded polls. It therefore stands to reason that any form of Orwellian logic used by the SLPP in blaming the opposition of “intimidation and vote rigging” hence the need to invite chaos will only result in the concerted efforts of civil society to unite and forestall it with decisiveness. This was demonstrated when the people had to chase Maada Bio and his NPRC from power through the ballot box in 1996 to the displeasure of the former, just as how the people resisted the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) junta rule of fugitive Johnny Paul Koroma in 1997.

If the above rumour is really credible, then history is teaching us that history teaches nothing as the military in Sierra Leone is notorious for relapsing to the same type of corruption once they take over civilian governments.

This was typically the case just after one year after the APC was overthrown by the NPRC in 1992 as the young and inexperienced officers rushed to live in the same homes occupied by their predecessors, parading the streets in the same stolen luxurious cars, chased the same women and indulged in the same political and economic excesses of the ousted APC government.

With the huge political consciousness now evident in most of the country’s voters, any form of connivance with frustrated politicians and the security apparatus will surely meet the uncompromising resistance of the people.

Indeed, democracy should reign, and respecting the decision of the electorate is the wisest thing to do. The mandate of the people should be sacrosanct just as how poet Ambrose Massaquoi lucidly captured it in the following lines in “Bo of the People”:

“...when rebels, renegades and collaborators come killing and looting,
The people will rise
From stepped-on tail
Of a black Mamba...”

Long live democracy!
Long live the will of the people!
Long live Sierra Leone!