23 November 2012

Sierra Leone: All Eyes On Christiana Thorpe


The elections have come and the people of this country have come out in their numbers to exercise their rights to vote on November 17 but anxiously and patiently awaiting Dr. Christiana Thorpe to declare the final results. This was a statement made by a concerned citizen just two days after polling day. This, I believe, is among several concerns shared by a good number of Sierra Leoneans that want to see the consolidation of peace and allow the rule of law to take effect in the post-electoral process.

As the provisional results keep filtering into the airwaves, citizens across the country are with expectant minds waiting to hear from the almighty Christiana Thorpe. As we prepare to move from this hopeful suspension, there are several mixed feelings with regards the allegations and counter-allegations made by the two main political parties - APC and SLPP. A political party at this crucial time must restrain itself from making any inciting statement that will spur their supporters into perpetrating violence. During the pre-election period, presidential candidates did make commitment to accept the outcome of the results and endeavour to conform to the modus operandi of the electoral process. I am bringing all of these issues as a reminder to the aforementioned and let's give time to Christiana Thorpe and NEC officials to do their work with no distraction.

Even though the aim of any political party is to win power, they must also ensure that ambition does not override the peace and stability of the country. The Returning Officer has made it very clear that any political party that has any concern of elections irregularities must tender the evidence to the police for further investigation. Well, to some extent, readers will say she is trying to ignore the claims or concerns made by these political parties but however, she is making a salient point to these aggrieved parties that "no announcement has been made for a particular constituency and all concerns must be directed to the police". On the other hand Madam Thorpe must endeavour to uphold the credibility of NEC and ensure that we have a credible outcome of the entire process. I am sure the results will be out shortly and we must be ready to accept it and move forward with our daily activities.

However, writing this piece one may be wondering the reasons behind the enthusiasm to hearing the almighty voice and how that is being connected with the peace and stability of Mama Salone. Of course we have conducted ourselves in a peaceful manner but reflection of that has to be seen after the announcement of the final results as this is critical, taking into consideration political statements being made in reference to what happened in Kenya and Cote d'Ivoire. It is no gain saying that the election violence that occurred in those countries is not worthy of emulation due to the wanton destruction of lives and property. I did mention in one of my articles that in these elections we want to showcase our democratic credentials to our development partners that this is not Kenya or Ivory Coast and there is no way we can degenerate into such a level. So far the elections have been adjudged by international observers and civil society organizations to be peaceful and violence free.

The legal ambit of the law calls for the outcome of the results to be within 10 days. This 10 days period has been seen by many as too long for the announcement considering the spate at which panicking rumours are being spread across the country by some evil people in society that may want to see a chaotic atmosphere that will threaten the peace and stability of the state. Just for a word of caution, anybody who will want to use this period to threaten the peace and stability of the state will face the full force of the law. This climate of fear or pessimism to a larger extent is being attributed to the enthusiasm connected with the final pronouncement of the results. Over the years, Madam Thorpe has been held in high esteem by the international community, political pundits and civil society organizations and this sterling character of hers has to be demonstrated again at such a crucial time. NEC as an institution must be firm in their decision making and create a platform for fair assessment.

In as much as the entire country is looking forward to the final results tells you how much the people are concerned about the fate of the country. Both local and international observers have come out with their preliminary assessments but all has to be summed up after the final pronouncement. Therefore, Madam Thorpe, the time has come once again for you to add to your array of credentials.

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