The Sierra Leone Elections in Retrospect: Sierra Leone is Not Liberia and Liberia is Not Sierra Leone

By John H.T. Stewart

The just concluded elections in Sierra Leone have drawn into sharp perspective the role played by its Elections Commission in contributing in a significant way to what is now internationally recognized as flawed elections. 

As the progressive results were showing, Maada Bio was enjoying an appreciable lead and there were strong indications that he would have won the runoff instead of the super absolute majority win prematurely declared for him.

But it appeared the Chairman of the Sierra Leone Elections Commission was having none of that and instead went on to declare Julius Maada Bio as winner on the first round. This gave rise to very strong suspicions that the Chairman and possibly the entire Commission were taking no chances because they had more likely than not received handsome bribes.

Not surprisingly, the opposition led by the All Peoples Congress(APC) have condemned the results as flawed, demanded the resignation of the entire Electoral Commission and called for a rerun of the elections within six months.  

Meanwhile, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund(IMF) have announced a pullout from the country in protest against the results of the elections which in their opinion are flawed.

It remains unclear at this stage, the disposition or verdict of the Economic Community of West African States(ECOWAS) Observer Mission on the Sierra Leone elections in view of the stance taken by the EU and other members of the international community declaring the elections results as flawed.

With crooked, sleazy Senator Edwin Snowe forming a key part of the ECOWAS Delegation and serving as lead, point man of ECOWAS Parliamentary Observer Mission in his capacity as Chairman ECOWAS Parliamentary Standing Committee on Peace & Security, there is every reason to suspect that ECOWAS will more likely than not confer a  “clean bill of health” on the just ended elections. And we need not ask why.

Questions are now being asked just why the Sierra Leone Elections Commission declared a first-round victory for the ruling incumbent when the actual results, according to sources showed that though Julius Maada Bio was in a comfortable lead, yet he had not attained the required threshold of at least 55%.

According to observers following the situation in Sierra Leone, it was clear that the elections were headed to a runoff in which Maada Bio was widely tipped to win given his comfortable lead in the first round. 

But as it appears, and as is now being speculated in some quarters, the head of the Sierra Leone Electoral Body may have either been coerced or offered a hefty bribe to declare results which have today led to widespread international condemnation.

Further, according to observers, Julius Maada Bio has made some impressive strides such as improving, expanding and tarring the country’s major highways, made significant investments in health and education, etc., although concerns about corruption ranked high.

In other words, according to a retired career diplomat, Julius Maada Bio was campaigning on his record with something visible to show to the people of Sierra Leone and this is why according to the diplomat, despite such concerns about corruption, Maada Bio made an impressive performance at the polls.

But all of that have now been called into question with charges of fraud hanging over his second-term bid, charges which have precipitated the pullout of the World Bank and IMF as well as the condemnation of the EU, and a host of other international development partners.

Just how he is going to navigate through such stormy seas and how well he does it will largely depend on how he reacts to opposition demands for the dismissal and replacement of the current electoral body and a rerun of the elections within six months.

Meanwhile in neighboring Liberia where elections are due in a little over two months, officials of the ruling CDC have been touting the declared first-round victory of incumbent Julius Maada Bio. 

They see this as a sign of what is to come for Liberia given their plans to massively rig the results of the October elections in favor of the ruling CDC, all in hopes of achieving a repeat of the situation in Sierra Leone.

The deliberate missteps of the National Elections Commission for example clearly suggests that such alleged plans to rig the results of the October elections cannot be ruled out.

According to informed and highly placed sources the services of an IT expert from India will arrive in country prior to the elections. 

Further according to sources, Commissioner Floyd Sayor a known CDCian and elections fraudster will provide the IT expert from India access code to NEC servers in order to be able to manipulate the data from the vote count.

More to this, sources further allege that one of Liberia’s current representatives to ECOWAS, Edwin Snowe is playing a pivotal role in the hiring of the expert from India whose services will be paid for by fixers of the Western Cluster bogus MoU arrangement while Maritime Commissioner Eugene Nagbe will, according to sources, take on the role of official manager and head of the CDC Campaign.

Other plans alleged to be in the works include an arms deal with Israeli suppliers and supply of the Israeli developed Pegasus software to local security officials in order to monitor phone traffic of opposition figures. Informed sources further allege that President Weah’s recent visit to Israel also bears connection to the Langley visit. 

And it is intended, sources allege, in exchange for Israeli support for his reelection bid, to assure Israel’s Mossad officials that it will ensure that a Lebanese national who is an alleged Hezbollah king pin living offshore on a luxury yacht in Marshall will be expelled from the country. 

This Hezbollah operative and king pin is alleged to be involved in a gamut of business operations in Liberia that includes import-export, trading, money laundering, illicit mining, drug smuggling and gun running, profits from which are accrued to the Lebanese terrorist organization, Hezbollah. 

He is further alleged to be the major shareholder in a locally registered company, TRH that was involved with the import of US$100m worth of cocaine into Liberia plus and additional US$40m which followed later. 

According to informed sources, the individual has since left the country in the immediate aftermath of news break of the cocaine and the arrest of individuals allegedly linked to its importation.

Informed sources have disclosed that the arrangement for the supply of the Pegasus software was concluded under the watch of former Minister of State, Nathaniel McGill. 

According to unimpeachable sources, the software was used/successfully tested during the 2021 WASCE exams to identify students who were using their cell phones to communicate with each other. 

They claim that the software can even break into WhatsApp, so opposition figures may be fooling themselves believing that their communication is secure.

Despite allegations of such elaborate plans, organizers and planners of such sinister designs ought to bear on mind that Liberia is not Sierra Leone, meaning that docility is not part of their makeup and that they will never take fraudulent elections results lying down.

More to this, this CDC-led Administration, unlike the Maada Bio led-Administration, has nothing, absolutely nothing tangible to show for the six years during which they have presided over the outright plunder of this country.

Under its watch, corruption has soared to massive and unprecedented heights while respect for the rule of law has degenerated to its lowest ebb while crime is rising by the day. 

Increased hardships occasioned by rapidly depreciating value of the Liberian dollar against the US dollar has led to Civil servants going unpaid for months while discipline and morale of the military and paramilitary, due to low salaries, lack of incentives, and infrequent pay are sinking to even deeper depths by the day.

And now they have come asking for a second term, promising to do all what they failed to do over the last six years but they often fail to remember that there is never a second chance to make a first impression.

Liberians are fed up. They want and demand real change, peaceful change. President Weah should, by now, realize that his time is up and he should surrender gracefully to the dictates of the Liberian people.

And he should, above all, bear in mind that Sierra Leone is not Liberia and Liberia is not Sierra Leone because Liberians, in their quest for democratic rule will never accept fraudulent or rigged elections results and neither will they be intimidated nor deterred by any threat of force or its use thereof.

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