Minister of Information and Communication, Alhaji Alpha Abu Bakarr Sahid Kanu has said in Freetown that incumbent President Koroma remains president of the Republic of Sierra Leone until someone emerges winner of the runoff election scheduled for later March this year.
His statement came in following a press conference Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio convened on Sunday March 25, 2018 and made strong statement resisting what he referred to as illegitimate extension of presidential term beyond the stipulated runoff period, the outcome which the president should handover officially to the newly elected president
Sierra Leone’s constitution does not create a room for power vacuum and as such a candidate winning the presidential polls is sworn in by the dictate of time within which the chief electoral officer announces the certified results at the end of polling process
Julius Maada Bio in the said press conference called on President Ernest Bai Koroma to respect the constitution and allow the presidential runoff to go ahead as scheduled.
The National Electoral Commission announced March 27 as the day for the runoff after none of the candidates in the March 7 elections was able to garner the 55% threshold.
Bio leads in the first round of voting with 43.2% and he would go head-to- head with the ruling All Peoples Congress party candidate Dr Samura Mathew Kamara, who got 42.7%.
The High Court, presided over by Justice Abdul Rahman Mansaray, has placed an interim injunction on the presidential runoff scheduled for Tuesday, 27 March 2018 after an action was brought before him by one Ibrahim Sorie Koroma, an unsuccessful APC parliamentary aspirant.
Reading the press statement at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Bio said his party views the latest development with utter dismay and apprehension not only for peace and stability of the country but also for threat to the maintenance of peace and security of the West Africa sub-region.
He noted that his party would hold President Ernest Bai Koroma primarily responsible and as bearing the greatest responsibility for possible indictment and prosecution at the International Criminal Court for any outbreak of large scale violence and ethnic cleansing in the run-up to and after the scheduled presidential runoff election.
He said there has been a growing number of hate speeches and violent attacks attributed to APC operatives and government officials directed specifically against supporters of the SLPP residing in the northern parts of the country.
“Many of them were forced to flee for their lives and to seek refuge in nearby towns and forest. This is extremely worrisome as it bears echoes of the Rwanda-type political crisis of the 1990s that was driven by sentiment of ethnic cleansing”, he said.
Bio said the SLPP would not accept the legitimacy of the presidency of President Koroma if the runoff election didn’t hold on the scheduled date as such would contravene the 1991 constitution.
The release states that the SLPP considers the ugly development as part of a plan designed to prolong the ‘dysfunctional’ governance of the APC regime by provoking large scale of violence and ethnic cleansing against SLPP supporters in order to provide excuse to declare State of Emergency by President Koroma, thus justifying a postponement of the election.
“We therefore urge President Koroma to allow the conduct of the runoff election to proceed as scheduled and to accept the result of the election as we have already undertaken to do” he said.