Sierra Leone: If Voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal

By Abdulai Mansaray

A view on presidential elections and democracy

It is a very sad state of affairs that on the eve of our general elections in Sierra Leone, we are saddled with a series of constitutional crisis. This begs the question as to our propensity to attract chaos. It is unfortunate that since Ernest Koroma took over as the head of state, in spite of the good things he has done, the issue of the Sierra Leone constitution has always been central to most of the government’s undertakings.

One of the blue prints in the manifesto of his 2nd term in office was the setup of the Constitutional Review Committee. With the support of the UNDP, Ernest launched the committee in July 2013.
The objective of the constitutional review process was to fulfill the national commitment made in the Lomé Peace Agreement, and implement Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendation to further consolidate peace and strengthen the existing multi-party democracy to create an open and transparent society.

To all intents and purposes, we have been left with more questions than answers. After 5 years of toiling, it is ironic that we are still faced with the same constitutional debacle and not much to show for it. We have seen over the years that there have been lots of constitutional issues arising from our government’s interpretation or misinterpretations; take your pick. We saw how former VP Sam Sumana now turned presidential candidate, was unceremoniously disrobed of his emperor’s clothes. We saw how the issue of dual citizenship has continued to plague our electoral process.

These are just a few of the kind of gymnastics that have successfully distracted us from the everyday issues that matter. Issues like our educational, social, and economic and many other have been conveniently been swept under the carpet. Instead of grappling with our inherent economic malaise, which is the concomitant effect of our pervasive corruption, we have been side-tracked by avoidable distractions.

In Sierra Leone today, our constitution is fast becoming the ultimate tyranny. We are proud of our embryonic democracy, but we need to be aware that constitutional democracy is not a romantic notion. On the one hand, it is our defence against ourselves and on the other; it is the one enemy that can defeat us. But the greatest threat to our constitution is our own ignorance of it.

Sadly, our politicians are now spending more time on the steps of our law courts than our parliament. This is because, many have come to see and use our constitution as a mere lawyer’s document. It is now becoming a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they please.

There are other schools of thought who hold the notion that the people made the Constitution, and the people can unmake it. It is the creature of their will that lives only by their will.” But if the constitution is such, why do we bother having one. “A constitution is not the act of a government, but of a people constituting a government; and government without a constitution, is power without a right. Governments are instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity and happiness of the people; and not for the profit, honour, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men.
The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people; it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government – lest it will dominate our lives and interests. The constitution is a social contract, and its strength lies entirely in the determination of each citizen to defend it. It is only when every single citizen feels duty bound to do his share in this defence that the constitutional rights can be secured.

The constitution should be regarded as the natural cure of laxatives to purge popular or representative governments or ill administrations by change of men. Our constitution should not be interfered with at will or on a whim. We should maintain it as the only safeguard of our liberties. A president cannot defend a nation if he is not held accountable to its laws.
The sad reality is that many see our constitution as a whip for political gains. The chameleon nature of the whole concept is now bordering on the ridiculous. Here we have a government that allowed Sierra Leoneans with dual citizenships to hold prominent parliamentary positions for 10 years without any qualms. The issue of dual citizenship only became an issue just when another opposition candidate dared to exercise his rights through the ballot box. And that was enough to generate an avalanche of constitutional gymnastics; phew. As we go to press, there are several petitions against candidates pending; just on the eve of our general elections.

While the ruling APC party has filed for a constitutional interpretation of the rules governing citizenship and the right to contest elections, the defence counsels for Dr. Yumkella have in the meantime applied for the recusal of two of the judges on the case, resulting in an adjournment of the hearing. This sounds like Kenya all over again; but with a twist. To all intents and purposes, this case will be expected to last even beyond the general elections; irrespective of its outcome. So this show is sure to run from the ballot box to the gavel. And you wonder where all this mess is coming from? Try selective amnesia.
While these shenanigans are unfolding, there are many who feel that there is power with impunity at play here. They see a government that is so out of control. They see one that is so bloated and infested with fraud and deceit and corruption and abuse of power. But how do you hold your government for its deeds when there is a visible need for reflection and restraint of power? Over the years, the APC party has amassed a lot of power, thanks to the comatose state of the opposition parties. With power comes the abuse of power, and our liberties remain endangered today because of that abuse of power; which is the root of all evil. Our politicians know that this is a game of power. We know that no one seizes power with the intention to relinquish it, and we are witnessing at first hand the effects of the addictive nature of power; as the innocent are sacrificed on its altar to keep it or get it. In the meantime, lives have been senselessly lost, even before a ballot is cast.
But those who see power as the ultimate aphrodisiac must also remember that the steps of power are often steps on sand. Holding someone’s fear in your hand and showing it to them is not power. And power without compassion is the worst kind of evil. In Sierra Leone today, power has become the measure of social merit and achievement; hence its propensity to attract the corruptible. But we know that nothing unmasks a man like his use of power; for it will intoxicate the best hearts. We have seen over a 10 year period how people have morphed from Salone Messiah to God help us. But as we all know, Power has only one duty — to secure the social welfare of the People.

So as we go to the polls on Wednesday, the hope against hope is that it will be FREE, FAIR and PEACEFUL. There is a lot at stake here, and it is not surprising that the International Community is taking a keen interest in the process. We have a golden opportunity to showcase our country to the world community. We have this opportunity to show that we have finally moved on from our history of a decade long barbarity to one of constitutional decency. The rallies have been concluded and the atmosphere of festivities has been appreciated. But as we roll our sleeves to vote on 7 March, lets us all remember that there is only ONE MAMA SALONE, not for the few but FOR ALL.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter (M. L. King).

Sierra Leone: APC presidential flagbearer implores the people to vote for development

APC presidential flagbearer, Dr. Samura Kamara, has implored the people to embrace peace and vote for development.

Supporters of the APC in the South and East of the country pledged to vote for development, stating that the ruling All People’s Congress party is capable to accomplish that objective.

These assurances came during the visit of the APC Flagbearer, Dr. Samura Kamara to various towns and villages in the South and East of the country over the weekend.

With his campaign team, Dr. Samura Kamara visited Panguma in the Lower Bambara Chiefdom, Mano Junction, and Kenema City in the Eastern Province; Sulima and Jurind Villages in Pujehun District, and Bo City in the Southern Province.

People in these various districts assured that they cannot be intimidated by any other political party not to vote in the APC. They reiterated that APC is willing to take development to every hook and cranny of the country without any form of segregation.

Dr. Samura Kamara promised that his government will build more roads, especially the one leading from Mano Junction in Kenema District to Bumpe, Kono District.

“My government will look into education opportunities and will implement good projects that will transform lives,” he said, noting that the ‘New Panguma’ should not vote based on tribal or regional sentiments, but must embrace assured developments in their communities.

Development, he said, should be in the heart of everyone, and that development in the APC has no boundaries rather it goes beyond region and tribe.

Dr. Samura Kamara also implored the people to denounce violence in any form because hatreds for each other will take them nowhere.

“Let us embrace peace in our heart, our communities, and the whole nation. This is not the time for violence,” he said.

At Sulima and Jurind Villages in the Pujehun District, Dr. Samura Kamara announced the installation of solar lights before the elections and assured that his government will make the two villages solid grounds for the APC.

“We will build your roads and improve your quality of life,” he noted.

Sierra Leone: Testing Our Resolve for Peaceful Elections!

John Baimba

JB SesaySierra Leone has made tremendous progress over the years, especially in sustaining the gains she had made in the areas of peace, socio-economic growth and with resounding democratic credentials. Politically, the country continues to enjoy an enabling environment, with multiparty democracy becoming the core of our democratic tenets. There have been no political prisoners in the last ten years of governance. The press has been open, free and pluralistic.

In the areas of social infrastructure and economic growth, we also have come a long way. But for the twin effects of Ebola and a drop in the price of raw materials, we were also making huge and tremendous progress in our growth sectors. Infrastructure became central to our growth roadmap. There has been greater success in this area of growth, with villages, towns, and cities having been connected. With this, we were also able to see an improvement in agriculture productivity.

Private sector involvement in our development roadmap was also core. The government ensured its active participation in the process of transformation.  President Koroma actually ensured a successful ‘Agenda for Change’ implementation during his first term in office, through a strong partnership with the country’s private sector.

Collectively, we have done all of this because we have been able to maintain the peace and stability we all fought for over a decade ago. What is over and above needed from us now is to work towards strengthening the foundation on which our growth processes have been built; peace, stability and a tranquil political environment is all we need, especially as we travel to the March 7th elections.

Elections are meant to win votes and eventually be able to form the next government. What is, however, crucial is the extent to which political players go in seeking votes. Political violence should have no place in modern day democratic dispensation. The manner through which political parties engage the electorate especially in seeking their votes is vital if we are to enjoy a tranquil political environment before, during and after elections.

A Party stands the chance of being elected based on its policies. There is nothing like ‘this is our time’ in politics. There is no political calendar that apportions a given period to a Party to govern or manage state affairs. The All People’s Congress was able to remove, through the ballot box, a ruling party, from governance because of the policies it had at the times. This is what those wishing to use violence in seeking political power should learn.

Dr. Samura Kamara remains an extremely well-mannered person. His years in governance, coupled with his rich global role in institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have been good tools to shape his relationship with people and his dealings, politically. He has been running an exceptionally decent, violent free campaign in his presidential bid. He has successfully won the hearts of even those who may not be supporting his political base. His recent handling of the presidential debate was touching. Despite the provocative moves by others during the debate, he stood the test of time.

Reports of political violence in Kamalo, the hometown of Dr. Samura Kamara during a visit by the flagbearer of the SLPP are nothing but well-orchestrated moves by the Opposition so as to undermine the decent and impeccable character of Dr. Samura Kamara. Such acts should also be viewed as efforts to undermine the credibility of the entire electioneering process ahead of the general elections, and elections management bodies like NEC, the Police and PPRC must take note of this.

There is no way the main opposition could win political power by violent means. Hopefully, we have not quickly forgotten how, just after the 2012 elections, a group of Opposition Operatives, some of them actually out of the country at the time, called on their supporters to utilize the Kenya and Ivory Coast models in rejecting the outcome of the elections.  Their actions in the last couple of weeks speak volume of their desire to undermine the process.  If this is not the case, why was there an attack on two vehicles of the convoy of Dr. Samura Kamara, during a visit to Kenema from Bo, on Thursday, 8th February, 2018?   Why is it also, that  the night, prior to the visit of the SLPP flag-bearer to Kamakwei, Sella Limba Chiefdom, on 9th February, 2018, posters of the APC and its presidential aspirant were destroyed?

If for anything, the APC will never work on destroying the gains it has conscientiously made over the years. The APC has ably managed the country’s affairs in the last ten years with outstanding accomplishments. Not only has the Party remained law-abiding, it has always encouraged its supporters to remain peaceful and tolerant in the midst of numerous provocative moves by the Opposition.  As I end, let me also state that an institution like the Sierra Leone Police do have A CONSTITUTIONAL DUTY to enforce law and order. They cannot sit by and see the security of the state been undermined. They should be allowed to perform their duties. They may not be appreciated by all but with a majority appreciating their work, they should not relent.


Sierra Leone: APC presidential candidate visits Tongo, Kenema District

By Shifu Fadda  

As political campaigns intensify in Sierra Leone the Presidential Candidate of the All People’s Congress (APC) Party, Dr. Samura Kamara, the Presidential Campaign Chairman, Mr.John B Sisay, and other important figures of the APC party on Sunday 18th February 2018 got a tumultuous welcome in Tongo, Kenema District.

APC Team

Dr. Kamara and team in Tongo, Kenema District

Thousands of supporters dressed in APC T-Shirts thronged the streets of the township to welcome the Presidential Candidate of the party. Amidst dancing and singing the crowd showed their love for both the Presidential Candidate and his running mate. Shouting “Tolongbo, All for All” the supporters vowed to vote for the APC in the coming elections. Various sectors of the community praised the APC for bringing development to the District with the improvement of the road infrastructure which now facilitates transportation of goods from villages to the township thereby developing trade.

Dr. Samura Kamara during his visit to Tongo paid a courtesy call on the Chiefdom Speaker Chief Amara Gando in the township as a sign of respect for elders where he met other stakeholders and a huge crowd awaiting him.

In his brief statement, he expressed satisfaction to the Presidential Candidate and party for the respect accorded him and the people of Tongo field and the Chiefdom through this visit. He told the entourage that he endorses the choice of both the Presidential and Running mate by President Koroma. He stressed that the Fullah community is happy for the choice of their own son as the running mate and endorsed him to the Jamaat.

Chief Amara Gando, in his short statement, described the visit of the APC Flagbearer as a  historic event as the would-be the hopeful President is in their midst. He called on all residents in Tongo field to vote for both Dr. Samura Kamara, District Council Chairman, Member of Parliament and Councillors so as to continue the development strides of President Koroma and thanked the entourage for visiting Tongo.

Mr. Bockarie Stevens, Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the United States assured the audience that the APC will clinch most of the seats in the Eastern Province as the party believes in action and not talks only. He admonished voters to collect their voters’ ID Cards from NEC so as to be able to cast their votes for the party.

Speaking to the crowd of supporters at the gathering, amidst thunderous applause, Dr.Samura Kamara reminded all that this election is to empower young people and that Tolongbo originated from there.   He assured of more support to the people of Kenema District. He advised supporters and the general public to stay away from violence, intimating that the only fight should be the ballot box, which is how they vote. Dr. Kamara called on all to stay focus, pay attention to what the party has done and vote overwhelmingly for it to continue the work as there are very good plans ahead which he will bring to the country and vote for the APC, assuring them that Tongo field will be the first to celebrate the APC’s victory.

Leaving Tongo for Kenema, Dr.Samura Kamara was cheered in villages leading to in Mano Junction. The crowd welcomed their favorite candidate in a manner that spells victory for the APC. Some commuters from the East, passing through Mano Junction, were amazed at the turnout and stared in bewilderment and were at a loss for words. Residents were delighted to see the Presidential Candidate of the APC party pay a special visit to the township and they assured the entourage of their determination to vote overwhelmingly for the APC because of the confidence they have in the choice of President Koroma to lead the party to victory in the March 7th election.

In his entourage were, PC Bai Kurr  Kanagbaro Sanka of Konikay Chiefdom, Ambassador Bockarie Stevens, Mrs. Hawa Bah the wife of Hon.

Massive welcome for Hon. Chericoco in Lunsar and Masiaka

By Fadda Bakish

His triumphant entry into Lunsar Town in the Marampa Chiefdom, Port Loko District, Hon. Chernor R.M. Bah received an extraordinary welcome by hundreds of All People’s Congress (APC) party supporters on Thursday 15th February 2018.


Supporters cheering the APC Running Mate at Masiaka

Supporters cheering the APC Running Mate at Masiaka 

The Party’s Presidential Running Mate visited Lunsar and Masiaka Town not only to get a reassured commitment from supporters to vote in the party in the March 7, 2018, elections; but to also affirm that the only hope of development in Sierra Leone is by voting in the party.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Hon. Chericoco, as he is fondly called, informed his audience that the coming elections are about the future of young people and women, especially first-time voters. “Come March 7, 2018, all of us should march forward ‘Tolongbo,” he said, and added that Port Loko District should not let the party down because; as he put it “Port Loko is the home of Tolongbo”.


Dr. Samura Kamara’s government, he said, will deliver more than what President Koroma’s government has done.

Hom. Chericoco pointed out that the young people, especially first-time voters should be proud enough to celebrate the development projects done by the APC in their communities.

He implored them to stay away from violence and embrace peace. “We will only enjoy development in a peaceful environmer4nt,” he noted, and further urged that supporters should continue with their house to house campaign.

“APC is for the grassroots. We’ll continue with our development projects so as to further transform the lives of the people,” he said.

Paramount Chief Bai Koblo Queen of Marampa Chiefdom, described Hon. Chericoco’s visit to his Chiefdom as a historic, and commended President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma for a job well done in the country.

“We are grateful to the APC for the development projects implemented over the years ion my chiefdom,” the PC Said and went further to name good roads, safe drinking water, electricity, job opportunities as key amongst the development activities which the APC took to his chiefdom.

The APC Regional Chairman in the North-West, Hon. Buya Kamara (Port Loko, Kambia and Kerena Districts), said the party is assured of all Parliamentary and Local Council seats in his area of command. “We believe in action and we strongly hope that the APC will win the coming elections,” he assured.

Abdul Karim Koroma, APC’s Parliamentary Candidate for Constituency 070 said he has succeeded in having greater support in his constituency due to his humility and honesty. “I am currently enjoying the support of my colleagues who were not awarded the party symbol,” AKK said.

Speaker after speaker appreciated the good works of the party and assured that the APC will surely clinch over 90% votes in Port Loko District.


APC presidential candidate assures Pujehun District: This is the time for Pujehun to develop under my government

By Fadda Bakish

Presidential Candidate for the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) Party, Dr. Samura Matthew Wilson Kamara, informed supporters over the weekend in Pujehun that the District has a special place in his heart and he will do everything humanly possible to transform the district.

Dr Samura Kamara

Dr. Samura Kamara addressing supporters

“This is the time for Pujehun to develop under my government,” he assured, noting further that he will bring additional development to where President Koroma’s government has stopped.

“Our manifesto is for the common man not for the rich,” he noted and added that “you should vote for all APC Candidates in your district for greater development in the near future.

The APC Flagbearer ends his successful first visit to the South and East of the country over the weekend where thousands of supporters came out with their local musical instruments, singing and dancing and pledging their support for the party in the coming elections.

Some of the Towns and Villages visited in Pujehun District include Banmdajuma Sowa, Potoru, Pehala, Bumpe Peri, Blama Massaqoi, Massam Kpaka, Sammelan etc.

APC’s Campaign Chairman, John Sisay described Dr. Samura Kamara as a great blessing that requires the support of the people to transform the country.

Melvin Rogers, APC’s Candidate for Pujehun District Chairmanship described the district as a new ground for the APC after the party has successfully implemented lots of development projects that are benefiting the people.

“We want the party to continue with its development activities, which is why we are giving our fullest support,” he revealed.

Rogers, before now was a Senior Journalist working as Station Manager at Radio Wanjei in Pujehun, he served as Assistant Secretary-General in the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) before his defection to the APC where he was awarded the ticket to contest for District Council Chairmanship.

“Since I was born I have never seen such developments from any other government than the APC,” Rogers said, and went on to name good roads, good drinking water, electricity and other development projects implemented by the current government as clear indication that it is only the APC that is capable to transform Sierra Leone.

“Dr. Samura Kamara will definitely have the highest votes from Pujehun District in the South. The APC will surely win the coming elections,” he assured. He went further to state that “With humility, I am the next District Council Chairman in Pujehun. APC gave symbols to the finest families in the district.” He thanked the people for their love and encouragement were given to him and assured them that he will take Pujehun to a glorious level after winning the elections.


Sierra Leone: Governing for the Grassroots, the People’s Manifesto 

John Baimba Sesay


Samura K

APC presidential candidate Dr. Samura Kamara


The 2018 APC manifesto, ‘Governing for the Grassroots,’ deals extensively with issues on access to basic services, the economy, moving forward with the country’s growth sectors and improving governance. Dr. Samara Kamara is in the race with the aim of getting the country closer towards a middle-income country by 2035.

In his words, he would like to be remembered as the President that “contributed to and built on the great legacy of his Predecessor, His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma to transform Sierra Leone into a middle income country; by instituting the right policy, economic, institutional and regulatory frameworks in place to meet all the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the vision of the Agenda 2063 of the African Union (AU).”

The manifesto in its entirety caters for the basic needs of the common man, a pro-people document that gives a better picture of what the next sixty months will look like under an APC led government. Let us look at few issues from a sectoral viewpoint:

The Agriculture Sector: 

This sector contributes over 45% of our GDP and employs over two-thirds of the population. The sector also generates about a quarter of the export income.  Budgetary allocation to the sector by 2007 was at a discouraging 1.6%. Agricultural productivity thus became very low, with farming done for subsistence.

President Koroma’s administration was to make the sector the ‘engine’ for socio-economic growth and development. It implemented a Smallholder Commercialization Programme. The focal point of this programme was to increase farmer’s revenue through promoting value-chain development and encouraging private sector participation in the sector. Budgetary allocation to the sector was also increased from a paltry 1.6% in 2007 to 7.7% in 2009 and close to 10% in 2010.

When elected, Dr. Samura Kamara’s government will build on these successes. He will “increase government investment in agriculture to at least 10% of government expenditures; intensify the diversification of agricultural products including vegetables and cash crops,” amongst others.

The Education sector: 

Prior to 2007 and before the APC government was elected into office, government’s budgetary allocation in education was 3.1% of the Gross Domestic Product. This was like the agriculture sector which was getting a budgetary allocation of a paltry 1.6%. In 2015, the APC government increased budgetary allocation in education to 15.1%.

On his election as President, Dr. Samura Kamara will be committed to expanding access to basic services. On education, his government will work on building on the achievements made by the current administration by addressing the remaining challenges.

The country’s Economy: 

All People’s Congress government inherited a broken economy. Over the past 10 years, we have, as a country, moved “from very poor growth rates to the second fastest growing economy in the world in 2014 and among Africa’s top ten fastest growing economies (IMF, 2016).”

There has been a paradigm shift from overwhelmingly depending on donors to being able to fund our own development.

When elected, Dr. Samura Kamara’s government will work on increasing “revenue to 18 percent of GDP by the end of my first term, ensuring that each year domestic revenue increases by a minimum of 1.2 percent of GDP.”

Deepening Decentralization:

The former government enacted a law on decentralization. However, little was done to ensure the process becomes effective and a success especially in the areas of devolution of function and transfer of funds to the local councils.  In ten years, under this administration, there have  been more devolved functions for the provision of basic services to Local Councils.

There has been an increased transfer of funds from central government to the councils and “salaries of both the political and professional categories of the officials of the Local Councils” increased by over 100%.

The next APC administration will amongst other things, “accelerate the devolution process and ensure that all functions earmarked for transfer to the Local Councils are fully and properly transferred; Strengthen local government administration, revenue mobilisation and diversify local governments’ revenue sources.”

We can ensure continued growth by voting Dr. Samura Kamara President in March. Your vote is the power you have to ensure continuity.