Sierra Leone elections: John Mahama denies involvement in rigging conspiracy

Former President John Mahama has discredited rumours that he is neck-deep in a conspiracy to rig the Sierra Leonean Presidential election in favour of Julius Maada Bio, one of the two candidates.

John Mahama, who was Chair of the Commonwealth Observer Group for this year’s election in the West African country, had earlier resolved a conflict between the supporters of the main opposition party, the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) led by Mr Bio and the police during the first round of elections last month.

Mr Bio, a former military coup leader, received the most votes in the first round when he faced ruling party candidate Samura Kamara who is an economist by training.

Mr Maada Bio received 43.3% of the vote in the first round.

But in Sierra Leone, the President is elected by an absolute majority and if no-one gets 55% then it goes to a run-off.

The country’s National Electoral Commission (NEC) said it will release the result of run-off held on Monday, April 1 by Thursday.

President Ernest Bai Koroma is stepping down as President after serving two five-year terms. He chose Mr Kamara as his successor to run as President for the All People’s Congress (APC).However, on Tuesday evening, social media became awash with a viral message claiming that John Mahama “prevailed on the NEC boss to cook the figures and announce the SLPP candidate Julius Bio winner.”

The viral message also claimed the former Ghanaian President had cut short his stay in the West African country due to the vote rigging conspiracy.But in a post on Facebook  Mr Mahama explained: “My departure from Freetown was not sudden and when I bid farewell to President Koroma I did not get any indication in word or deed that I was not wanted anymore in his country. I was leaving because by my agreement with The Commonwealth my mandate as Head of Mission had ended. The Commonwealth technical team were also due to leave Freetown on April 03, 2018 but a cancellation of their Air France flight is keeping them there till Wednesday April 04, 2018.”

He adds: “International Observers have no capacity to change the will of the people, in any election. I, John Dramani Mahama, have no interest in who governs the people of Sierra Leone. The long nights, early mornings, long meetings, diplomatic shuttles were all aimed at helping Sierra Leone choose their leader freely, maintain the peace and consolidate their democracy.

“As President of the Republic of Ghana and Chair of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government in 2014, I visited Sierra Leone when all others abandoned the country and foreigners were leaving. I offered my country as the staging post for the fight against Ebola.

“I have expressed openly to anyone who would listen to the progress Sierra Leone has made since I last visited when the country was at its most vulnerable, at the height of the Ebola crisis. I have absolutely no interest in who becomes President of Sierra Leone at the end of this elections. I just believe that a credible election would consolidate not only Sierra Leone’s democracy but also its peace, bearing in mind it’s past gruesome civil war.

“If my presence, in the midst of a volatile and violent situation, at Goderich during the first round of voting to prevent what would have clearly marred a beautiful day of election, or my actions in conducting my mandate as head of my mission has so angered some people so much, as to throw such accusations at me, I can only respond that, I wish Sierra Leone well and that on this exhausting mission, I put my best experience at the service of that nation’s democracy and I pray that the in the end, whoever emerges as leader will continue to consolidate this process and continue to build on the good works of his predecessors.

“Let us all continue to join the good people of Sierra Leone in prayer.”