By Sorie Fofana.
In 1995, the then Chairman of the NPRC military junta and Head of State, Capt. Valentine Strasser announced the lifting of the ban on political activities across the country. Meaning therefore that, political parties were free to register and start electioneering activities.
Capt. Strasser appointed a retired senior United Nations diplomat, Dr. James Jonah as Chairman of INEC (Interim National Electoral Commission).
Barely few months after political activities resumed, Capt. Strasser started to show signs of wanting to succeed himself. He was not committed to the democratization process.
On January 16 1996, his second-in-command in the military junta, Brig. Julius Maada Bio overthrew him in a bloodless palace coup and assured the nation that, he was committed to the return of civilian rule within an agreed timetable that had already been published by the NPRC administration.
The Presidential and Parliamentary elections were held in February 1996. With no candidate scoring the 55% threshold, a run-off Presidential election was conducted between the SLPP’s Alhaji Ahmad Tejan Kabbah and the UNPP’s Dr. John Karefa- Smart.
Before the run-off election was even held, Dr. James Jonah invited Tejan Kabbah and John Karefa-Smart to his office and informed them that, he was prepared to continue to serve the country after the run-off election had been concluded. He told them that, he was prepared to serve as the country’s Permanent Representative (Ambassador) to the United Nations headquarters in New York. They both agreed to offer him the job regardless of whoever won the election.
At the end of the run-off election, Alhaji Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, with the backing of the APC, PDP and DCP won the run-off election against Dr. John Karefa-Smart.
After being declared winner of the run-off election and sworn-in as Head of State in March 1996, President Kabbah appointed Dr. James Jonah as Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the United Nations.
After the overthrow of Kabbah’s government in May 1997, Dr. James Jonah was recalled from the UN and appointed Minister of Finance and Economic Development.
The former Establishment Secretary, Eugene Davies was appointed as Chief Electoral Commissioner after Dr. Jonah was appointed as Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the United Nations.
Mr. Davies did not stay long in the post. He resigned from the post and returned to quiet retirement.
The retired Inspector General of Police, Walter Nicol was appointed Chief Electoral Commissioner. He was the man who presided over the 2002 elections. In that year’s Presidential election, Ahmad Tejan Kabbah of the SLPP defeated Ernest Bai Koroma of the APC in the first round of polls.
In the run-up to the 2007 elections, President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah appointed a retired school Principal and Catholic nun, Christiana Thorpe as Chief Electoral Commissioner.
In the first round of the Presidential election conducted in 2007, the APC’s Ernest Bai Koroma defeated Solomon Berewa of the SLPP but did not get the 55% of votes required to avoid a run-off election.
In the run-off election, Ernest Bai Koroma’s chances were boosted after he secured the backing of the man who came third in that year’s election.
Charles Francis Margai of the PMDC openly endorsed the candidature of Ernest Bai Koroma and agreed to work with him.
In the run-off election, Ernest Bai Koroma was declared winner after the cancellation of votes cast in about four hundred and forty seven polling stations mostly in the stronghold of the SLPP.
In the 2012 elections, Christiana Thorpe’s support for the APC gave Ernest Bai Koroma an easy first round win against his main challenger, Brig. (Rtd) Julius Maada Bio of the SLPP.
Even though the then Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in Sierra Leone, Michael Schulengburg was opposed to the reappointment of Christiana Thorpe as Chairperson of NEC, the APC government went ahead with her reappointment and forced the UN Secretary General to withdraw Schulenburg from Sierra Leone.
Christiana Thorpe Again?
After the 2012 elections, President Koroma appointed Christiana Thorpe as Deputy Minister 1 in the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.
At a women’s function organized at Kona Lodge by a group calling itself Power 232, Christiana Thorpe openly declared that, all along, she had been a full-fledged member of the APC party. Her audience was left greatly astonished.
At the APC Convention in Makeni, Christiana Thorpe was spotted dressed in the APC red and white color from head to toe.
Four days ago, President Koroma reportedly appointed Christiana Thorpe as representative of the APC at the NEC Main Tally Center at Wellington.
After losing the first round of the Presidential election, the APC have been left completely demoralized. They want to use every means to stay in office. The party does not even mind openly rigging the election if that is what will keep them in power.
NEC sources are reporting that, the APC have allegedly hired the services of Addo Davis, Maxhood Gibril-Sesay, Philip Kargbo and Abu Turay (all senior NEC staff) to help rig the run-off election in their favor especially in the Northern Region and the Western Area.
The APC is also accused of hiring six IT Specialists from Ghana, to help tap into the NEC IT system.
Most of these allegations have been denied by the APC party, at a press conference held at the party’s Head Office in Freetown on Saturday 17th March, 2018.
Christiana Thorpe is a discredited person. She presided over two successive totally flawed elections in this country (2007 and 2012).
The current Chairman of NEC, Mohamed N’fah Alie Conteh has been commended so far, for his neutrality and determination to conduct free, fair, credible and transparent election.
May God bless Mama Salone!