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Christiana Thorpe and 2012 elections

Christiana Thorpe and 2012 elections

The debate on the Aljazeera documentary should not be allowed to divert the attention of this government from its determination to ensure the 2012 elections are won. I have made my position clear that, in as much as it was good they (Aljazeera), tried to help in the fight against corruption, they too are liable to face corruption related charges in our court of law for using corrupt means in exposing corrupt activity. I even expect Sorious Samura to publicly tender his unreserved apologies to the Vice President for attempting to drag his name and reputation into an issue orchestrated by Sorious himself just to prove that, with money, he can undermine his credibility. We are in no way prepared as a nation for this type of false and wicked journalism, all in the name of exposing evil wrongs and in the name of press freedom. (Photo: John pa  Baimba Sesay, author)

You cannot, even for the sake of argument and from a moral standpoint, use corrupt means to expose corruption. But as I have repeatedly stated, these are all moves aimed at diverting the attention of President Koroma from that of securing a landslide victory come 2012 to that of discussing issues like those brought up, first by Africa Confidential and now Aljazeera. You see, one thing that this government should not downplay is the political propaganda that has been embarked upon by some politicians, with the support of international news outlets.

Now is the time for more efforts to be put together to checkmate some of these false and opinionated propagandas all in a bid to discredit the successes of the government. But they will fail and God will strike them all. I was privileged to see a letter that was written by Aljazeera to Veep Sam Sumana and also the response of the Veep to Aljazeera. Honestly and practically, I have no other feeling but to conclude that the Aljazeera team had wanted to present this government in a very bad light, when you read the content of their letter critically.

You see, we should not downplay the very fact that President Koroma has got very good and achievable records and standings that the slightest of opportunities that some political opponents have would be used to discredit him and his government, including government Ministers. I categorically would tell you that Sam Sumana was and is still criminally and politically innocent of any wrong doing. But as I have advised, let President Korma and his government keeps moving with the trend they have taken, they should not allow a selected few from the other side to divide them, to bring rancor among them, thus spoiling the chances of winning 2012.

But you know what; we are almost few steps to the 2012 elections. The political landscape is now well prepared to face the challenges of the pending elections. We are all set, literally set to ensure what happened at the famous Kailahun court barray is not repeated, we are all set to return Ernest Bai Koroma to State House. But in all this, there is the  Christian Thorpe factor that will always come to play until the date for announcement of election results in 2012. No doubt; Christian Thorpe has made her mark in the socio-political history of the country. Speaking on July 14, 2011, at the Africa Research Institute , South West London, she spoke of her determination “to give her best to the people of Sierra Leone by granting them their intensions through the ballot box…’ (source: Sierra Update issue 0009)

Christiana Thorpe - NEC Boss

When she took the decision in 2007 to nullify votes that were rigged in Kailahun, she was lampooned, criticized and literally taken to the court of public opinion and after her trial by people like Sama Banya et el, she was literally taken to the ‘gallows’. She was intimidated but she stood her ground, ever determined to ensure rogues don’t get their ways in criminally winning elections. She is an icon of hope and prospect in not only Sierra Leone but the entire African continent. But in a bid to avoid that which we went through in 2007, especially in a place like Kailahun, Christiana Thorpe should do all she can to ensure there is a proper and effective voter registration system so as to ensure that registered and valid voters vote once, and nobody else.  Generally, fraud and political violence on polling day are not the most serious threats to free and fair elections. Rather, more discreet and often more effective ways of rigging take place in the months leading up to elections (Source: Africa Commitments to Democracy in Theory and Practice…).  NEC should take note of this.

From the look of things, all the political parties in the country, especially the leading ones – SLPP, APC, UDM and NDA are presently working, putting strategies and modalities in place in a bid to win the 2012 elections. It should be said that the opposition parties have a difficult task of removing a serving government especially one that has good records to show in terms of performance. President Koroma, no doubt has a good record to show. He has a clean record, with no blood in his hands.  The SLPP, just like any other political party has the chances of winning the pending Presidential election but it is very clear, that the APC, being the ruling party at the moment, would not sit idly and allow power to be removed from its hands. This is just the case with any other political party.

Talking about records, the SLPP, when in power had a record to show, that they facilitated the end ofSierra Leone’s civil war, with the collective support of each and every Sierra Leonean. I was going to add the record of institutionalizing corruption at all levels of state governance. Indeed, they established the anti-graft agency, but it was more or less a white elephant. The ACC, during the Kabba (h) era would only charge a matter to court on the advice of the Attorney-General. This is a different ball game today. O my God, other records –  the creation of institutional reforms like the NRA, Nassit, among others. But just a minute, what was the revenue collection pattern of the NRA during the Kabba (h) era? Check the NRA records and feel the difference today.

 The  NEW APC of President Koroma and Chief Sam Sumana and his able Ministers on the other hand currently has a clean and  positive record demonstrated in their seriousness in the fight against corruption and in restoring electricity back to the country, though with a number of challenges. They also have a record of facilitating infrastructural development, like government’s attention in fixing the road network. They have no record of extra judicial killings. Bambay must be crying somewhere only God knows.  And because of these records that both parties have to display to the voting public come 2012, it is left with the electorate to determine whether to return the APC to State House or give the SLPP another chance.  I will not underestimate the fact that the 2012 elections will be fought on a platform of what has been done by one party as against the failures of other parties.

I mentioned the Christiana Thorpe factor in all of this but wait a while, for those of us who believe in the existence of God/Allah, we also need to start calling on Him to ensure we go through peaceful elections. No amount of political intimidation, no amount of media propaganda and no amount of threat should be allowed to get us back to where we came from.  Christiana Thorpe has got the determination, the courage and zest to make us get free and fair elections but we need to call on God to caution those politicians who think power should be attained by whatever means.  We should be mindful of the fact that we went through a sad moment in our history. We fought each other in the name of bringing about change to the country. We killed each other but also as a result of our determination as a post- war country, we have put all of that behind us. When once we attempt to undermine the peace and tranquility we are now enjoying, we have ourselves to blame. This is one simple advice I want to give. I am hopeful our politicians, especially those clamoring to attain power by all means humanly possible, are aware of the existence of the International Criminal Court. Laurent Gbabgo is today in The Hague, answering to criminal charges for being recalcitrant. In Sierra Leone, if anyone things he can disturb the peace and tranquility thus leading to any form of power sharing, then that individual must be kidding.

The conduct of credible elections starts miles away to the elections themselves. Christiana Thorpe should be aware of this. The voter registration exercise, I want to emphasis should be thoroughly monitored so as to prevent the type of vote rigging we saw in some pat of the country during the 2007 elections. But in all this, I also would want to suggest that political leaders keep talking to their supporters on the need for peaceful elections. Wanting to win elections by corrupt means is unacceptable, but I am sure, with Christiana Thorpe still in control of  NEC, rigging will be a thing of the past .

The elections will be expected to be fraud free, possibly avoiding the many electoral malpractices that often characterized past elections.  We have to avoid conflict so that the elections will be free and fair and, above all peaceful, which remains the bottom line in the entire electoral process. (Source:  Sierra Express Media).  And thanks to NEC, that they were able to purchase  800 biometric machines worth a total of US$18.6 million, to be used to register voters in January for next year’s general elections.  This, according to reports is the first time in the country that a biometric-capable voter registration system will capture voters’ data, fingerprints and facial images. NEC information officer Albert Massaquoi is quoted to have said that the new system will “also make it easier and faster for NEC to replace voter’s cards for anyone who loses his or her own,” he told local journalists. “The new system will also discourage registration duplications or fraud.  Your personal data will be kept in the system and you will not be able to register twice.” (Source:  Sierra Express Media).  This is great but I think there is the urgent need to now get down to remote places and adequately sensitize people about this technology, thus putting NEC on a safeguard, when they shall be invalidating votes again some 2012.

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