The Geo-political implications of the November elections
Despite what some political pundits mainly in the opposition SLPP have always said, regarding the conduct of the 2007 elections, after the first rounds of polling, the ECOWAS Observer Mission to the 11th August 2007 presidential and parliamentary elections were frank in describing the voting process as been ‘adequately free, peaceful and credible’ (http://www.modernghana.com/news). Notwithstanding this and many other commendations by the International Community, there were attempts to divert the wishes of the people in 2007 when some people had wanted to use the courts to seek an injunction, following the conduct and announcement of results of the second rounds of voting. So it interests me to read of a former military leader talk about the need to “Listen to people’s voice” (http://gulfnews.com/news). It is like a dictator lecturing on press freedom. (Photo: John Baimba Sesay, IA, China)
Sierra Leonewill be conducting another set of democratically free and fair elections in November of this year. But let me quickly state here, that WHAT HAPPENED IN 2007 WHEN NEC INVALIDATED VOTES IN KAILAHUN WILL BE REPEATED BY NEC IF THE SAME ELECTION FRAUD IS REPREATED IN KALIAHUN AND ANY OTHER PART OF HE COUNTRY. The decision to invalidate votes, taken by NEC came after a meeting that was held on the 11th September 2007 in the office s of NEC, where NEC Commissioners reached a decision on would-be cases of over voting. The decision was reached based on the following; On voter turnout of between 95% to 99%- cases of polling stations with high voter turnout from 95% to 99% will warrant investigation only if there is a complaint from any one of the political parties that contested the run-off elections, or if there is an incident report on that particular polling station from the district office. In other words, if there is no complaint, and or incident report from the district office, the results from such stations will be accepted.
There was also the issue of Voter turnout of 100% where it was agreed that cases of polling stations with high voter turnout of 100% will warrant immediate investigations, even if there is no incident report or complaint from the district electoral office or any one of the political parties that contested the run-off elections, respectively. The third point was on voter turnout of over 100%, that cases of polling stations with high voter turnout of over 100% will warrant immediate invalidation; even if there is no complaint from any one of the political parties that contested the run-off election or, incident report from the district office. (http://exclusivepress.net). So the decision was not just taken by Christiana Thorpe alone but with the consent of all other Commissioner. So if there are plans to get the same style again come November, people should also be ready to go through what they went through in 2007.
A lot of political theories have so far been propounded by political commentators with regards the pending November elections. From the viewpoint of several Sierra Leoneans, the coming will be used to give a ‘thank you’ message to President Koroma for what he has done during the last four, to five years of his Presidency. We need not deny the fact that there are challenges lying ahead of us as a nation one that is trying to overcome the brutal effects of a civil war. That said, we also should take into cognizance the fact, that despite the seeming challenges in our socio-economic and political developments, we have continued to move steps ahead and we are today making serious progress in areas like infrastructural development, health care, press freedom and in the fight against corruption. With a the ACC now having more powers to prosecute corruption related offences (http://www.afrol.com/articles/30588).
I hitherto made reference to the several theories that have been propounded by social and political commentators from the viewpoint of what the pending November elections have to offer us as a people. Some think, there will be a run off. For some, it will be a clean landslide victory for President Koroma, a view I also share, as a result of a number of factors, among them the developments back home coupled with the all inclusive type of government President Koroma has. Forget about the power of incumbency that some people have always subscribed to when it comes to elections (we all witnessed how Berewa was democratically kicked out of power, despite being in power at the time), we all need not count much on the support base that the then political marriage between APC and PMDC brought into changing the geo-political thinking and voting patters of Sierra Leoneans, rather, I want us to specifically look at how the successes or failures of a given government will account for its demise.
Traditionally, one will agree with my submission, that the voting partners over the years in Sierra Leone have been predominantly based on regional and tribal lines and we have seen how people have often claimed to have political supremacy over a given region-say the south or the east.
But this traditional taboo, which is particularly so deep seated in the south-east, was broken in 2007 when President Koroma successfully made political inroads in winning the hearts ad minds of people in place like Bonthe and Moyamba. What we have often seen is that the north, just like the Western Area had been traditionally placed under the strong control of the ruling All Peoples Congress, the south-east, being known for the SLPP and lately for the PMDC. But there is another mathematical calculation that should not be ignored, when discussingSierra Leone’s geo-political arrangements.
The 2007 elections brought new meaning intoSierra Leone’s politics especially for places like Kailahun, Bonthe and Moyamba and this will also be the case in November. Kailahun had always been neglected by the SLPP but, because the SLPP was still in power at the time Kailahun gave 111,695 votes to the SLPP and 11,631 to the APC, which at the time was in opposition, when compared to Bombali, which provided a strong support for the APC by giving 125,419 votes in favor of the APC, and just 14,095 for the then ruling SLPP. Kenema gave a total of 160,699 to the SLPP and 32,666 to the APC; Bo gave a total of 105,459 to the SLPP at the time and only 37,006 to the APC, Bonthe 28,313 to the SLPP and 28,313 to the SLPP and only 20,018 to the APC. Moyamba is another strategic area inSierra Leone’s political arrangement. In the 2007 run-off elections, it gave 49,886 to the then ruling SLPP and 26,485 to the APC and Pujehun, providing a total 38,107 votes for the SLPP and 2,875 for the APC. Kono provided 74,458, for the SLPP and 52,908 votes from the APC at the time.(http://www.sierraconnection.com) .Now you may want to compare the figures that the APC got in Bombali to those the SLPP got in Bo. Also analyze these figures and you will see that the support base for the APC in Bombali will never diminish and that there are indications, its support in Bo will increase with time. And this is the time.
Now we may need to further analyze these figures, in line with present day happenings vis-à-vis, getting all districts across the country involved in the day-today running of the state and in terms of how development has been taken to each and every district in the country by President Koroma. The fact that those military boys who brutally removed the APC from power in 1992 failed to send the party into the political tomb shows, no matter the attire they put on, for the fact that there is still that military way of thinking in tem, their come back even with civilian cloths will be hard to accept. The coming into power of President Koroma has greatly helped in building public trust and confidence, both at the local and international levels, regardingSierra Leone.
President Koroma stands to win more votes this time round in places like Bonthe, Moyamba, and to a very greater extent Pujehun and other areas often seen as strongholds of the opposition party. Politics is all about creating impact in terms of meeting the promises made at electioneering period. When President Koroma came into office in 2007, he worked towards the creation of a government that could reflect the feelings of national cohesion by appointing southeasterners into cabinet positions. Dr. Soccoh Kabia, at Fisheries Ministry is from Moyamba, a place that gave only 26,485 votes to the APC, Minister Minah, at Transport Ministry is from Pujehun, another strategic area in terms of determining election results in the county, just as we have Moijoe Kaikai, Residence Minister South, also a man from the south. Bonthe, being so strategic for the SLPP in 2007 gave 20,018 votes to the APC but today, they are playing a major role inSierra Leone’s development, with Osmond Hanciles serving as a Deputy Government Minister. S they have a reason to take the Ernest Koroma direction.
The point is, Ministers of government from the south-east, just like those from the north, will do all they could, to ensure victory for President Ernest Bai Koroma. Because if, when in opposition the APC was able to make tremendous strides and remove a serving government, it means, the party is sure of retaining power now that it is in government and also performing.
Now, let us look at traditional strongholds of the APC-north and western area. In the Western Urban, President Koroma, in the 2007 elections got a total of 249,056 votes, as compared to 115,771 votes, got by Solomon Berewa. In Bombali, the APC got 125,419, with Berewa scoring slightly above 14,000 votes. So when votes from the Western Area are combined with those from the north, coupled with the votes Ernest will get from the south-east, it will lead to a definite win during first round of voting. In 2007 places like Bombali, Kambia, Port Loko, Tonkolili and the Western Area, which are predominantly APC strongholds, demonstrated some level of liberal democracy, by freely voting the SLPP, even though the APC candidate was attacked in Swegbema and had some challenges visiting Bonthe.
The implications are great but they stand positively in favor of the Koroma led government. But don’t relax, you can start off by registering to vote.
Note: Figures, in the form of a table and chart are courtesy of: http://www.sierraconnection.com
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