Sierra Leone: 16 Candidates To Contest Presidential Elections on March 7th

In the lead up to its fourth democratic elections, the West African country of Sierra Leone’s electoral body, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) has released the provisional list of nominated candidates for the March 7th Presidential Election.

Sierra Leone National Election Commissioner Mohamed Nfah Alie Conteh
Sierra Leone National Election Commissioner Mohamed Nfah Alie Conteh

In a release signed by Chairman Mohamed Nfah Alie Conteh and issued on Monday in the capital Freetown, the NEC announced a a final list of 16 political parties cleared to contest and include:

Samura Kamara (APC),

Mohamed Kamaraimba Mansaray (ADP)

Samuel Sam-Sumana (C4C)

Alhaji Musa Tarawallie (CDP)

Mohamed C. Bah (NDA)

Dr. Kandeh K. Yumkella (NGC)

Patrick John O’Dwyer (NPD),

Jonathan Patrick Sandy (NURP)

Kandeh Baba Conteh (PLP)

Charles Francis Margai (PMDC)

Beresford Victor Williams (RNIP)

Gbandi Jemba Ngobeh (RUFP)

Rtd Brigadier Julius Maada Bio (SLPP)

Mohamed Turay Sowa (UDM)

Henry saa Kubata (UNPP) and

Josephine O. Claudius-Cole (UP)

APC Candidate Dr Samura Kamara
APC Candidate Dr Samura Kamara

The two major political parties are the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) which was founded in 1951 and now led by incumbent President Ernest Bai Koroma and the current opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) which was also founded during the colonial era in 1948. President Koroma is constitutionally ineligible to stand for re-election after serving 2 five-year terms since 2007.

SLPP Candidate Julius Maada Bio
SLPP Candidate Julius Maada Bio

The ruling APC’s candidate is Dr. Samura Kamara, a former foreign minister while the SLPP’s Presidential candidate is a retired military officer Mr. Julius Maada Bio. The much lesser known and smaller political parties are seeking to make strong parliamentary gains in order to establish leverage when the political horse-trading and negotiation kick in for support from the two major parties. Supporters of the ruling APC party candidate says Mr. Kamara is better suited to lead the country given his international diplomatic experience while supporters of the opposition SLPP candidate – the retired military officer say he is disciplined and best positioned to lead.

Last December, the Koroma Administration intervened to subsidize the nomination fees for elective offices of President, Members of Parliament, Mayor and Local Council. The NEC at the time announced that, ” … as a result of the intervention of the Chairman of the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) through a letter dated 5th December, 2017, to the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, His Excellency, the President has approved rthat the Government will absorb the difference in costs between the proposed revised fees outlined in the signed political parties resolution and the current fee contained in the Statutory Instrument No. 13 of 2012…”

Meantime, the US. Embassy in Sierra Leone has warned against growing election violence following a recent rampage by supporters of the ruling APC. One person was reportedly killed. According to a statement issued by the American diplomatic mission in Freetown, it said, “The U.S. Embassy is concerned about recent reports of violence and loss of life.  We extend deepest condolences to the victims and their families.  We appeal to all Sierra Leoneans to remain peaceful and respect the democratic process. While this is a time to engage in political activity, exchanges should be civil, and take place in an atmosphere of tolerance and respect…”

The statement further said,”…The U.S. Embassy urges all parties and candidates to reiterate to their constituents their commitment to a non-violent, law abiding and peaceful democratic process.”

Amnesty
Amnesty International

In adding its voice to the call for a peaceful election, Amnesty International (AI) on Friday, said, “Next month’s elections in Sierra Leone are another landmark moment, as the country recovers from the devastating Ebola outbreak, and there is no doubt that there will be vibrant rallies and passionate debate.”

Amnesty further noted that, “there is an essential role for the authorities to play in ensuring that every Sierra Leonean can participate in these elections, speaking out freely and assembling peacefully, in full safety.”

According to the NEC calendar, political campaigning starts on February 4 – March 5. There is a one day cooling off period on March 6th with no campaigning and polling date is March 7th. If no candidate wins outright, a run off poll will be conducted between March 24th – 28th between the two candidates with the highest votes.

Map of the Republic of Sierra Leone
Map of the Republic of Sierra Leone

In a separate development, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) says it is suspending financing to the Sierra Leone government for its failure to meet key budget outlook and growth targets. Following a development economic performance review last September in Freetown, the IMF concluded that it is “…currently working with the government to identify appropriate corrective measures that can be taken and when.”

Sierra Leone’s electoral body says there are about 3.1 million registered voters out of a population of a little over 7 million.

By Emmanuel Abalo 

West African Journal Magazine

 

Sierra Leone Govt Subsidizes Nominating Fees For 2018 Elections

As the Sierra Leone prepares for the holding of Presidential and General Elections, next March, outgoing President Ernest Bai Koroma has approved government’s subsidization of nomination fees.

Sierra Leone President Ernest Koroma
Sierra Leone President Ernest Koroma

In a press statement released on last Wednesday in Freetown under the signature of the Chairperson of the country’s Electoral Commission Mr. Mohamed N’fah-Alie Conteh, it said President Koroma had approved that “The Government will absorb the difference in cost between the proposed revised fees in the signed political parties resolution and the current fees contained in Statutory Instrument No 13 of 2012.”

According to the release, for the elective office of Local Council the 2012, nominating fee is $1 million Leones ($131.00 USD). The proposed 2018 nominating fee agreed to by political parties for this office is $500,000 Leones ($65.32). The government will subsidize a difference of $500,000 Leones ($65.32)

Sierra -Leone
Sierra -Leone

For the office of Mayor of District Chairman, the nominating fee is $5 million Leone ($653.17). And the proposed fee which political parties agreed to for the 2018 elections was $1.5 million Leones ($196). The Government will absorb the balance of $3.5 million Leones ($457.22).

Parliamentary including Paramount Chiefs and Members of Parliament nomination fee is $10 million Leones ($1,306.34) while the proposed nomination fee for 2018 is reduced to $3 million Leones ($392). The balance of $7 million Leones ($914.44) will be subsidized the government.

For political parties seeking the Office of President of Sierra Leone, the nominating fee is $100,000 million Leones ($13,063) and the proposed amount for 2018 elections is $30 million ($3,919). The Sierra Leone Government will absorb the balance of $70 million ($ 9,144.35).

NEC-Boss-Nfah-Alie-Conteh
Sierra Leone Elections Chair Mohamed N’fah Conteh

The government subsidy will ease the hardship of political parties and independent candidates who are struggling to raise the relatively high nomination fee. Total Sierra Leone government subsidy is about $229,000.

President Ernest Bai Koroma is ending his 2nd term as President of the West African state. Registered political parties and independent candidates will contest next March for President and memebers of Parliament of Sierra Leon. Meantime, two new political parties have been certificated by the Political Parties Registration Committee (PPRC) to contest the March, 2018 elections. On Wednesday, the Coalition for Change (C4C) and the National Unity and Reconciliation Party (NURP) received registration certificates in the capital Freetown. 

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine

 

Sierra Leone Rejects Decision of ECOWAS Court on Dismissed VP Sumana

Abuja, Nigeria – Following the ruling of the ECOWAS Court on Monday in Abuja that the dismissal of Vice President Sam Sumana by President Ernest Bai Koroma, the Sierra Leonen Government has rejected the decision in its formal response.

Former Vice President Sam Sumanna and President Ernest Bai Koroma
Former Vice President Sam Sumana and President Ernest Bai Koroma

In a statement issued in Freetown by the Sierra Leone Justice Ministry said that “The Supreme Court of Sierra Leone did rule on the above matter and therefore no other court is competent to overrule it except by itself. Therefore, the Government of Sierra Leone refused to participate in the proceedings and does not accept nor recognize the ECOWAS court in respect of the said judgment.”

The ECOWAS Court of Justice ruled that the 2015 dismissal of the Sierra Leonen Vice President was done illegally and that his fundamental human rights, as guaranteed by the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.

The Charter, set up in 1987, is an international human rights instrument that is intended to promote and protect human rights and basic freedoms in the African continent.

In dismissing the challenge to the Sierra Leonen Government that it had no jurisdiction over the matter, the Court held that it did have full jurisdiction to consider and adjudicate the case of Mr. Sumana in defense of is fundamental human rights.

In dismissing his former Vice President in 2015, President Koroma defended his decision then, saying that Mr. Sumana had taken up asylum in a foreign embassy and abandoned his duties.

Former Vice President Sam Sumana
Former Vice President Sam Sumana

In response, the former Vice President said he feared for his life and sought asylum in the U.S.

The ruling of the Ecowas Court of Justice awarded Mr. Sumana reparation for his legal fees, back salary and emoluments as of thee day of his dismissal by President Koroma.

In instances where local laws of Sierra Leone were involved or due to lapse of time, the Court said it could not offer such relief to Mr. Sumana.

42 African countries including Sierra Leone have signed and ratified the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine