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General News of Thursday, 5 April 2018

Source: dailyguideafrica.com

I didn’t rig elections - Mahama cries in Sierra Leone

Former President John Dramani Mahama appears to have ‘angered’ a section of the electorate in Sierra Leone, particularly the ruling APC supporters, over a wild allegation that he interfered in their election which ended last weekend.

They are accusing him of helping to ‘rig’ the election in favour of the opposition candidate of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), Julius Maada Bio, a retired Brigadier and former military ruler even though the National Electoral Commission (NEC) in the West African country is yet to officially declare a winner in the run-off.

Newspaper allegation

Some newspapers aligned to the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) have not been charitable to the ex-president, as they are all accusing him of ‘scheming’ to get the opposition candidate to be elected over the ruling party’s candidate, Dr. Samura Kamara, who has been Minister of Foreign Affairs since 2012 in what they termed ‘regime change.’

Mr Mahama was in Sierra Leone – a country that suffered many years of brutal civil war – as the chairman of the Commonwealth Election Observer Group.

The general elections entered into a run-off after the two presidential candidates had failed to secure the 55% of the votes required to win outright.

In the first round held on March 7, the opposition leader, Mr. Maada Bio, narrowly led the contest with 1,097,482 – representing 43.26% as against the ruling party’s candidate, Dr. Kamara, who polled 1,082,748 – translating into about 42.68% of the votes.

Incumbent President Ernest Bai Koroma is not running for another term, as he is constitutionally ineligible, having served the maximum 10 years in office.

Results compilation

Just as the second round results were being compiled by the NEC, a heated argument has ensued over the conduct of some of the international election observers, and the ruling party’s supporters in particular are pointing accusing fingers at Ghana’s ex-president, John Mahama.

They claim he is maneuvering to have the opposition leader become president.

The ruling APC posted a comment at 2:53 pm on Tuesday, describing ex- President Mahama and another as “African puppets of the west,” and wanted the Ghanaian leader out of that country.

“It’s time to resist neo-colonialism. We are a sovereign state. UK High Commissioner should keep his hands to his pants…don’t put it on our elections. And SpongeBob square head John Mahama should leave our country. These African puppets of the West!” the post indicated.

Mahama hits back

Mr. Mahama has since returned from Freetown, Sierra Leone, but has not taken kindly to the allegation which is trending on social media from both home and abroad.

He said in a Facebook post yesterday, “I arrived in Accra this evening to a flurry of social media stories and other worrying reports attributed to officials of the Sierra Leonean Government that I had cut short my mission and left Freetown because of my support for one of the candidates and political parties in the just-ended presidential run-off election.

“As chair of the Commonwealth Observer Group to the Sierra Leone election, I was officially due to complete my mission and leave Sierra Leone on Monday, April 02, 2018, via Kenya Airways as per the ticket bought and issued to me by the Commonwealth Secretariat in London.

“Following multiple issues that arose just when the tallying of the result from the run-off began, I was requested through a call from the Secretary General of The Commonwealth, Baroness Scotland, to stay one more day to work with my colleague Heads of International Observer Missions to resolve issues that had stalled the tallying process.”

The former president explained further, “My departure was, therefore, delayed until Tuesday, April 03, 2018.”

Extension of stay

He said that with the extension in mind, he joined his colleagues in multiple meetings with the political stakeholders on April 01, 2018 until well after midnight “to achieve consensus in order to have the tallying process proceed.”

He added, “All these meetings were chaired by Professor Amos Sawyerr, Head of the ECOWAS Observation Mission.”

According to Mr Mahama, “Just before my departure from Freetown, I joined my colleague former presidents Amos Sawyer of Liberia, Kgalema Motlanthe of South Africa and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas, at the Presidential Lodge to brief President Ernest Bai Koroma on our efforts in reaching an agreement between the political parties and the National Electoral Commission in order that the tallying process could proceed.”

Presidential farewell

The ex-president said, “I bid farewell to President Koroma before I drove to the sea coach to leave for Lungi Airport. My departure from Freetown was not sudden and when I bid farewell to President Koroma, I did not get any indication in word or deed that I was not wanted anymore in his country.”

He said he left because his agreement with The Commonwealth had ended.

No capacity

Mr. Mahama said that international election observers have no capacity “to change the will of the people, in any election,” adding emphatically that “I, John Dramani Mahama, have no interest in who governs the people of Sierra Leone.

“The long nights, early mornings, long meetings, diplomatic shuttles were all aimed at helping Sierra Leone choose their leader freely, maintain the peace and consolidate their democracy.”

There are strong indications that the ruling party’s candidate in the election has been floored, leading to the allegations of meddling in the internal elections of that country.

According to opposition party SLPP, its candidate won the country’s presidential run-off based on its own tally of the results.

Sierra Leone People’s Party leader Julius Maada Bio obtained 54.11 percent of the votes, while Samura Kamara of the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) won 45.89 percent.

“We are confident that retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio is the next president of Sierra Leone,” Jacob Saffa, the SLPP’s election management chairman, told a news conference in the capital, Freetown, on Monday.

The run-off was held on Saturday.