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Sierra Leone Opposition Calls on Its Deputies to Boycott Parliamentary Proceedings

Source : | 29 November 2012 |  World | 773 views


By Aroun Rashid Deen

Morocco World News

New York, November 28, 2012

The Sierra Leone People’s Party, whose candidate, Julius Maada Bio, came in a distant second to the incumbent President in the just-concluded Sierra Leone presidential election, has called on its members of parliament and other elected officials, to “stay away” from parliamentary and all other local council proceedings.

A statement from the party’s secretariat issued Tuesday, just four days after the National Electoral Commission NEC of Sierra Leone declared incumbent President Ernest Koroma, of the All People’s Congress, the winner of the presidential election held on November 17, stated that its National Executive Committee strongly “condemns the refusal of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to address the electoral irregularities including fake and unstamped Reconciliation and Result Forms, pre-marked ballot papers, ballot stuffing and over-voting in Kono, the Western Area and the Northern Province and more other instances of malpractices which undermined the credibility of the results.” The party had hinted – just a day after the result was announced – that it was going to contest the presidential result, claiming electoral wrongdoings.

The SLPP national and local lawmakers are among the hundreds also elected during the November 17 polling. Although the party has also – in a separate statement – indicated that the elected officials have reaffirmed their firm commitment to the resolution to stay away, pundits speculate that few of them will adhere to their party’s call for the boycott. And if they do, it will not be for long. Among them are first-timers, some of whom, notwithstanding the party’s position regarding the results declared by the NEC, are anxious to take up their seats for which they had worked hard, if not to begin serving their constituents.

The call to stay away from parliamentary and other council proceedings may be a signal that the SLPP is running out of options or strategies to reverse the election result. In its press release, the party prevailed on the international community to consider its claims of election fraud, demanding “an independent international assessment” of the whole election process involved, including the presidential result.

It is not clear which sector of the international community the SLPP wants to intervene, since key players and leading decision makers in world affairs, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Russia, the United Nations, the European Union ECOWAS, the West African regional bloc and the African Union, among others, have all recognized the election of President Koroma. They have done so by way of statements of approval of the election process and congratulatory messages to Koroma.

However, a reliable source from Freetown has indicated that diplomatic efforts, led by the United Nations, are under way to bring together President Ernest Bai Koroma and Julius Maada Bio, to find a resolution to the SLPP’s alleged election fraud. It is not known what, if anything, Mr. Bio would gain out of it, following his dismal performance, other than get coaxed to accept the election result. Representatives of the two groups are to meet in Freetown shortly.

Further, in its press release, the party demanded the “unconditional release” from police custody, those of its members and supporters who are still being held. And in what it described as in the spirit of reconciliation, the SLPP called on the government to “nolle prosequi all pending political matters in our local courts.” It did not specify the political matters in question nor indicate how the request is related to the allegations of electoral fraud and irregularities.

*Nolle prosequi is a term used in the context of the legal profession. It means that either a prosecutor or plaintiff in a legal matter already in proceeding has declared that he or she will not proceed any further.

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