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The APC Convention: A political façade, if not a joke! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dr Ibrahim Seaga Shaw, Senior Lecturer, Media and Politics, Northumbria University, UK   
Friday, 20 October 2017 12:33

Thanks to AYV partnered by AFCOM, I was able to followthe live coverage of the APC and SLPP conventions on my mobile phone from my base in the UK.It was good that both conventions took place simultaneously last week end (October 15-16, 2017) because, at the very least, it provided the opportunity to those keenly following the two historic events to compare and contrast them, not least in terms of democratic processes and procedures. Let me start by talking about how I saw the APC convention held in Makeni, then compare,and contrast it with what I saw at the SLPP convention held in Freetown.

The APC Convention

I must say that I was concerned about the very flawed process of selecting, rather than electing, the APC presidential flagbearer, Dr Samura Kamara and his running mate, Chernor Maju Bah, as well as the national executive committee of the party, for the March 7 2018 elections. By singlehandedly sanctifying and implementing such a very problematic process, President Ernest Koroma blatantly defied basic democratic protocol and denied all the hundreds of APC delegates who braved all odds to be at the conference the right to vote for the candidates of their choice. This is not only a bad precedent in our fledgling democracy butperhaps more disturbing; it is a recipe for chaos with ramifications not just for the ruling APC party but also for the peace of Sierra Leone as a whole. Social media platforms are already awash with images and videos of protests and burning of APC posters in Port Loko, Kono reaction to the selection of the APC ticket.

Moreover, most APC delegates abandoned the convention hall in Makeni as soon as the names of the selected national executive members (largely dominated by the same people), the flagbearer and his running mate were announced. It did not come as a surprise, therefore, to see proceedings at the convention coming to an abrupt end no sooner the selected flagbearer and his running mate came to the podium following invitation by President Koroma with no time for victory speeches.It really made a mockery of the APC convention and I honestly wonder why all the 28 candidates who declared their intentions to run for the APC ticket wasted their time crisis-crossing the country to campaign for votes when they knew that there was in fact not going to be any opportunity for anyone to vote for them. The whole thing smacks of a political façade, if not a joke!

Some commentators have likened this autocratic process to that of electing a new pope. However, I honestly find this parallel to be problematic since a Pope, who is also a Bishop of Rome, is elected (not selected) by a two-thirds supermajority of the College of Cardinals. Perhaps the nearest thing to what happened at the APC convention one can think of is the election, or rather selection, of the Chinese president every ten years.However, even here there could be a problem since the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s highest state body, which also has power to remove the president and other state officials, elects the Chinese president. The election or removal of a president or state official is decided by a simple majority vote. On the contrary, no such thing as a simple majority vote by the convention delegatesor the members of APC’s NEC, took place at the APC convention.What happened was that President Koroma and other members of the APC NEC emerged from a short meeting where they claimed to have held consultations, not election, and the next thing we saw was somebody announcing the list of the supposed selected new NEC members; delegates were then asked to endorse the list by a show of hands. The television cameras of AYV unfortunately did not show the delegates raising their hands in endorsement, if at all they did.Even if they did endorse the list in that way this would have hardly made any difference since it was highly likely that any dissenting voice would have been quickly silenced, or bundled out of the hall. President Koroma, who doubles as chairman and leader of the party for life, was then given the honour of the last word, which he used to announce his selected flagbearer and running mate without referring to the APC NEC. What was even more discouraging for democracy was the similar simple endorsement of President Koroma’s imposition of himself as ‘leader for life’ of the APC party without a single dissenting voice in the convention hall. This can perhaps only be compared to what we often see in communist North Korea. But I am sure it will not be long for us to start seeing how unsustainable all these internal political machinations of the APC would turn out to be!

The SLPP Convention

What happened at the SLPP convention in Freetown turned out to be in sharp contrast to what happened at the APC convention in Makeni. It was a clear culmination of the first SLPP convention, which took place about three weeks earlier in Kenema between September 15 and 17. According to manydelegates and independent observers, who attended the convention in Kenema, the National Executive Committee members of the main opposition party were elected in free, fair and transparent elections organised by an independent electoral commission set up by the former SLPP NEC.According to press reports, candidates for NEC positions openly and peacefully campaigned for the votes of the delegates who in turn cast their votes for the candidates of their choice in secret ballots.The same electoral commission organised the election of the SLPP presidential flagbearer at the SLPP convention, which I watched live on the screen of my mobile phone thanks to AYV powered by AFCOM.The processes and procedures were very similar to what happened at the SLPP convention in Kenema as all five flagbearer candidates were given the platform to make the case for their candidacy.The supporters of the candidates wereallowed to move around to campaign for the votes of the party delegates, who were later called one by one to cast their vote after verification of their identity.From the way I saw it on AYV TV, the whole process wasnot only peaceful but also largely free, fair and transparent, thus meeting all the ingredients of a truly democratic process. Moreover, here unlike what we saw at the APC convention, Maada Bio, who emerged as the clear winner of the SLPP flagbearer election with 475 votes had the opportunity to deliver his victory speech amidst thunderous applause. (John Benjamin, who polled 116 votes, came second; followed by Dr Alie Kabba-11; Munda Rogers-10; and Bond Wurie-6). I was therefore not sure why panellists who took part in the discussion of the AYV Sunday programme anchored by Angela Ngweni, which I also followed, struggled to accept and say the hard but honest truth about the reality of the marked difference between what happened at the APC and SLPP conventions when asked. Almost all three contributors to the programme sang from the same hymn sheet in comparing the two conventions as being manipulated and yet still mustered the courage to openly admit that the APC convention was based on selection while the SLPP one was based on election. But of course, the devil is in the detail because the question is raised if, as they admitted, the APC convention was based on selection, and the SLPP one on election, then where the hell is the parallel they were talking about? I was particularly appalled to hear one of the panellists, Dr Abu Bakar Kargo, who, by the way, taught me International Relations at FBC, University of Sierra Leone, praising President Ernest Koroma for imposing his candidates on the APC delegates, because, according to him, political leaders are supposed to tell their people what is good for them, and not the other way round. However, with all due respect to my former professor, I beg to defer; while I agree that political leaders are supposed to provide leadership and direction for their people, this must be done in consultation with them in a true democratic spirit. Unfortunately, as things turned out this was not what happened at the APC party convention.

I want to end this piece by strongly recommending that the Political Parties Registration Commission consider the possibility of introducing some guidelines, perhaps in the future, which would ensure that all political parties follow democratic procedures and processes of electing party executives and presidential flagbearers.




26th IPRA Conference in Sierra Leone Ends on a High Note

The International Peace Research Association (IPRA) successfully held its 26th General Conference on ‘Agenda for Peace and Development: Conflict Prevention, Post-Conflict Transformation, and the Conflict, Disaster Risk and Sustainable Development Debate’ in collaboration with the 10TH Dealing With Disasters Series, Northumbria University (UK)and Sakarya University (Turkey) and  the University of  Sierra Leone at the Bintumani Conference Centre in Freetown, Sierra Leone from November 27 to 1st December 2016.


Business News

Managing Director of Rokel Commercial Bank, speaks to The Worldfolio about the investment opportunities in Sierra Leone

John D. Okrafo-Smart, Managing Director of Rokel Commercial Bank, speaks to The Worldfolio about the investment opportunities in Sierra Leone and gives his insight into the banking landscape.

Excerpts shared by Sheriff Mahmud Ismail

The Government of Sierra Leone is placing great priority in improving the business climate, enhancing infrastructure and support to private sector development. In line with the government focus, the Central Bank is targeting price stability in support of economic recovery, enhancing monetary policy instruments and liquidity management and also limiting intervention in the foreign exchange market, which will be important to preserve foreign exchange reserves.

The above measures will help in the strengthening of the banking system to support financial intermediation. Commercial banks are thus poised to benefit and take advantage of the improved economic and business environment by offering better services to their customers, including loans and overdrafts and forex to import, thereby creating wealth and boosting government revenue.


Media News

Freedom of Expression Violations Rise Sharply in West Africa

The incidents of freedom of expression rights violations in West Africa more than tripled in the first quarter (January-March) of 2017.

Over the three-month period, a total of 47 violations were recorded as against 14 violations for the last quarter (October-December) of 2016. The violations recorded in the quarter under review range from arrests and detentions to physical attacks, online violations, shutdown of media houses, censorship, seizure and destruction of property and killings. The 47 violations occurred in 10 out of the 16 countries in West Africa.




Dr. Tam Baryoh’s Only Crime!

Boris Johnson as a Journalist worked at The Times and Daily Telegraph newspapers. He edited The Spectator newspaper between 1999 and 2006. He was Member of Parliament for Henley from 2001 to 2008 and was also Mayor of London. He is a member of the Conservative Party and the current UK Foreign Secretary.

Nnamdi Azikiwe was to serve as the first president of independent Nigeria from 1963 to 1966. He opened and edited a number of newspapers in Ghana and Nigeria and later became an active politician. Obafemi Awolowo was a great Nigerian politician. He also was an active journalist and edited The Nigerian Worker, amongst other publications.

There is a clear link between politics and journalism though, there seems to be a very thin boundary, or perhaps, “a reflective door in the firewall, such that with time, politicians and journalists cross the line changing roles and moving from side to side,” argues Aminat Afolabi in a piece, titled ‘Politics and Journalism, the Interwoven Relationship between Them.”


View Point

The APC Convention: A political façade, if not a joke!

Thanks to AYV partnered by AFCOM, I was able to followthe live coverage of the APC and SLPP conventions on my mobile phone from my base in the UK.It was good that both conventions took place simultaneously last week end (October 15-16, 2017) because, at the very least, it provided the opportunity to those keenly following the two historic events to compare and contrast them, not least in terms of democratic processes and procedures. Let me start by talking about how I saw the APC convention held in Makeni, then compare,and contrast it with what I saw at the SLPP convention held in Freetown.


News - Press Release

EU Election Exploratory Mission meets Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation

(MFAIC Press Office, 18th October, 2017). The European Union Election Exploratory Mission to Sierra Leone led by Head of European Union Delegation to Sierra Leone, H.E. Tom Vens has paid a working visit to the Minister, Dr. Samura M.W. Kamara and Senior Management Staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, at the Ministry’s office in Tower Hill, Freetown.

Ambassador Tom Vens stated that the EU Election Exploratory Mission is in Sierra Leone following an invitation by the Government of Sierra Leone for EU Electoral assistance, and to further discuss the role of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in facilitating EU Observer Mission for the March 2018 elections in the country. The EU Election Exploratory Missionas part of its mandate is in the country to draft and finalise the MOU with the Government of Sierra Leone through the Foreign Ministry.


Society -Local News

Abdul Nahim-Koroma's Life Is In Danger

Members of the Sierra Leone Drug Addiction Council are seriously concern about the life of Abdul Nahim-Koroma who disappeared March this year and his where about is still unknown.

According to sources, Mr. Nahim-Koroma’s problem started since 2011 when he put up resistance and went further to stop his family not to initiate his two daughters Rabiatu and Aliyah Nahim-Koroma into the Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) locally called bondo society in Sierra Leone.

A family member told this medium that since 2011 to date Abdul Nahim-Koroma’s life as well as his family members are in constant threats.



U.S. Ambassador launches National Early Warning Systems Project, funded by USAID

On Wednesday, October 18, U.S. Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Maria E. Brewer, announced the official launch of the USAID West Africa-funded “Mitigating Election Violence through National Early Warning Systems” (NEWS) project and the inauguration of the National Elections Response Group in Sierra Leone.

Supported by $500,000 from USAID, NEWS is implemented by the West African Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) in Sierra Leone. The focus is to monitor and identify potential electoral violence triggers and assist government and non-government organizations in Sierra Leone to better mitigate them.
The National Elections Response Group (NERG) is a partnership under the NEWS project, between WANEP, the Inter-Religious Council, the Campaign for Good Governance, government stakeholders, representatives from the National Electoral Commission, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Office of National Security (ONS) and a number of civil society organizations.

The primary objective of the National Elections Response Group (NERG) is to monitor the elections environment, develop, and recommend strategies and actions to relevant stakeholders with authority to implement necessary response actions to prevent escalation of tensions or incidence of violence for a peaceful 2018 election. Members of the NERG will work closely with WANEP, the Integrated Election Security Planning Committee under the ONS, Provincial and District Election Security Committees – PROSEC and DISEC with an extensive network of civil society organizations and with 60 community monitors across the country to identify potential risks of electoral violence.



PRESIDENT KOROMA SAYS… “I am very proud of Ansumana Usman Koroma”

President Dr Ernest BaiKoroma has informed Sierra Leoneans that, “I am very proud that we have people like Ansumana. We need many more Ansumana Usman Koromas that will go out there as Ambassadors of our country, showing and telling a good story about Sierra Leone.”

Whilst speaking at his Presidential office in Freetown, President Koroma affirmed that, “I am very proud of Ansumana and I am encouraging him to do more by helping his people.”

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