As Tripartite Committee Set to Investigate…BIG TROUBLE FOR ELECTORAL “YAHOO BOYS”

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As Tripartite Committee Set to Investigate…

By Ibrahim Alusine Kamara

The fears and doubts that seemingly left Sierra Leoneans plummeting into confusion about the work and mandate of the Tripartite Committee remain even after the Committee’s maiden Press Conference held at the Ministry of Information and Civic Education on Tuesday, 6th February 2024.

The well-attended press conference attracted a huge presence of members of the Diplomatic Core and representatives of the International Community to witness the official signing of the Committee’s Terms of Reference (ToR).

The Tripartite Committee was established after a signed Communique on the 18th of October 2023 at the Bintumani Hotel in Freetown, involving the Maada Bio Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) led government, the All Peoples Congress (APC) party and the International Community represented by the Commonwealth of Nations, the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (EVOWAS).

The Committee is a three-way leadership and is charged with the mandate to investigate the June 24th, 2023 multi-tier electoral cycle, as well as review the country’s electoral systems for future elections.

According to the Scope of the Terms of Reference as provided for by the agreement, “….. This body will examine the electoral systems, structures, and processes of the 2023 multi-tier electoral cycle. The Committee will also be informed by previous elections to highlight and address the contentious issues of elections and results management, including the collation, verification, authentication, and publishing of electoral data consistent with international best practices to enhance the credibility of all future elections in Sierra Leone at guarantees elections to be free, fair, and credible”.

Therefore this three-way leadership Committee is envisaged to have the power to delve into the management of the 2023 election results by reviewing the processes including the printing of the Provisional and Final Voter Register, assessing the procedures for shipment, tallying, and announcement of results at regional and national levels, examining the procedures for the transmission of results from Centers to Districts, and examine the procedures for the transmission of results from tally centers to the national tally center, including staff involvement.

Against this backdrop, the Committee in fulfilling its mandate shall take actions such as determining persons, groups, or institutions that are responsible for undermining democratic elections in Sierra Leone, including the 2023. 2018, 2012, and 2007 electoral cycles.
The Committee shall also recommend appropriate action to the President; request access to all relevant documents, records, and information necessary for the conduct of its examination; invite and speak to experts, government officials, EMBs, political party representatives, and any other individuals deemed necessary for the examination; request resources, technical expertise, or assistance from relevant national or international organizations and development partners to support their work.

Even as the terms are simple and clear, fears and doubts have left Sierra Leoneans in utter confusion as to what the scope of the Committee’s work and mandate are, since it commenced its work. Some Sierra Leoneans have even gone to the extent of making unofficial conclusions on the outcome of the Committee work.

With the signing of the TOR at its maiden press conference, the Co-chair representing the APC, Dr. Kaifala Marah, supposed that the highly controversial 24th June elections will be inevitably investigated and the release of election data may be recommended based on the shreds of evidence that will be available to justify the endemic malpractices shrouding those national polls.

Dr. Kaifala Marah has, therefore, warned against preempting the outcome of the Committee’s work and urged all and sundry to allow them to do their work in peace without distraction so that they will proffer recommendations expected by all and sundry.

When asked if the Tripartite Committee has a mandate to investigate the 2023 elections, Dr. Marah responded that they have the mandate to examine its processes and encouraged his audience to visit the Dictionary to ascertain that ‘examine” and “investigate” are synonymous.

Dr. Marah went on without mincing words that they have agreed as a Committee to look into the election results and the release of data by the Electoral Commission, noting that the birth of the Tripartite Committee stemmed from the fact that a huge number of voters felt a lot of things did not go right. He assured the conference that they are going to proffer recommendations based on their findings.

However, there seems to be a disagreement from the Co-chair representing the government on the Tripartite Committee, Dr. Emmanuel Gaima, who opined that they lack the power as a Committee to subject the Electoral Commission to an investigation.

From the Committee’s maiden press confab, the masses, though may now learn that listening to fly-by-night social media bloggers and mushrooming politicians other than members of the Tripartite Committee is not reasonable, they are still being left to wallow in their usual doubt.

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