By Aruna Turay
A strong All People’s Congress (APC) Party woman and former Cabinet Minister, Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden has cautioned her party executives and stalwarts not to celebrate the European Union (EU) Election Follow-up Mission in Sierra Leone Report released over the weekend.
It can be recalled that the Mission, concluding its follow up Mission in Sierra Leone past weekend, advised that the Mid-Term Census is unprecedented; the stated reason for it is highly contested.
The Mission went on that the use of an optional census to provide data which might be used to change electoral boundaries shortly before an election is not conducive to the political atmosphere or good electoral practice.
In addition, the Mission repeats its recommendation that the voter register should be automatically produced from the civil register, which would save money and time.
Speaking on this recommendation from the Mission, Dr. Blyden said going by the Mission’s call for voter register to be automatically produced from the civil register is nothing but a clear certificate for the APC to lose the 2023 elections to the SLPP.
According to Dr. Blyden, see everybody, including the National Chairman and Leader of the APC, Ernest Bai Koroma celebrating the Mission’s Report, is the most disappointing thing she had faced in recent times.
“For no less a person but APC gurus to be celebrating and congratulating the EU Mission for such recommendation is Hmmmmmm!! Hmmmmm!!. I’m afraid this will be a catastrophe for the APC come 2023 elections. Let’s stop the celebration and take a relook on the report before we sign our own death rule.” Blyden advises.
She said it can be recalled that the decision by the Bio-led SLPP government to empower the National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA) to register every citizen living in the country by the end of March 2020 so as to be able to vote at public elections, drew fierce criticisms from the opposition APC and other political parties in the country.
According to her, the APC back then was accusing the SLPP of planning to rig the 2023 general and presidential elections, after the NCRA published its public notice, giving citizens one week to register with the Authority.
The APC, the doctor went on, was alleging that the IT systems designed for use by the NCRA has been programmed to distort the registration figures to favour the ruling SLPP, by inflating the total number of people living in the ruling party heartlands, while reducing those registered in APC strongholds.
She said the APC further accused the government of usurping the powers of the country’s National Electoral Commission, whom they said has the sole responsibility for registration of voters, and publishing of voter lists locally for verification by local residents, in advance of general and presidential elections.
By giving an eligible voting population of over 5 million people just seven days to register, the APC then accused the NCRA of being fraudulent, dishonest and irresponsible.
In similar development the APC back then summoned an Emergency Press Conference on Thursday 27th February 2020 at its Headquarters in Freetown on the topic: “The attempt by the National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA), to usurp the powers of President Dr. Julius Maada Bio as well as usurp the functions of the National Electoral Commission (NEC)”.
With the above development, Dr. Blyden said for same APC, Ernest Bai Koroma and his team to now support the same recommendations by the EU Mission and celebrating them, is just the start of a suicide mission for the opposition party long before the 2023 elections.
The purpose of EU Election Follow-up Mission is to undertake a technical assessment of the state of implementation of the 29 recommendations made by the EU Election Observation Mission back in 2018.