By Thomas Dixon
The 2018 elections are over and Sierra Leone now has a new President in the person of Julius Maada Bio but during the political campaign there were lots of drama.
Forget about the tension because it was bound to happen even in the most developed democracy and focus on the fun people enjoyed in the whole process.
In the elections some new words came up in the political savvy of Sierra Leone Politics and it will be good for people to know what they connote and the reason they were used.
“Tonlogbo” is a Themne word that means straight. It was first used by the former President in Kenema when he was talking to some group of APC supporters about the need for them to exercise patience as the party will come together to select the flag bearer that everyone will support.
The word “Tolongbo” then became the main campaign slogan of the then ruling APC now opposition party. It was used in almost all the campaign messages of the party.
Political Scientists will say that the reason for that word to be chosen as the major campaign slogan of the APC was to energize their base and supporters most of whom are in the North of Sierra Leone and the themne ethnic group.
“PaOpa” which means by all means possible was the major campaign slogan of the then opposition now ruling party. It has been in the political arena for a very long time and it is a word that is found in almost all the tribes in Sierra Leone.
“Two-sim is a word that came up in the campaign. It was used by the former Attorney General and Minister of Justice Joseph Fitzgeral Kamara when he was addressing Sierra Leoneans from the diaspora who were rejected the APC symbol to contest as Members of Parliament based on the fact that most of them are dual citizens.
Thus, the term “two-sim” in the Sierra Leone context means dual citizens. However, political analyst will tell you that the whole reason why the two-sim stuff was trumped up was to get rid of the National Grand Coalition Presidential Candidate, Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella whom the APC realized was going to be a serious problem for them in their Northern Stronghold.
This is what got so many Sierra Leoneans still laughing when they think about the election. On the 7th of March which was voting day in Sierra Leone, the Police went to the tally center of the main opposition on the allegation that the party operates a hacking mechanism that was interfering with the system of the National Electoral Commission (NEC).
When the electoral commission was asked about the whole hacking stuff, they dismissed it by saying that the elections they are conducting was basic and manual.
In this same vein, the SLPP also summoned a Press Conference at Bintumani Hotel making the same allegations of hacking by some NEC staff with specific reference to the Western Area Commissioner of NEC, Miatta French.
Even after the elections, Sierra Leoneans kept hearing about the petitioning of some Members of Parliament.
Petition has always been part of the elections of Sierra Leone and almost all elections in the world but the petitions in the 2018 elections were very much intriguing.
We saw the ruling APC party in the guise of a voter petitioning the candidature of the NGC Presidential Candidate and former UN strong man Kandeh Yumkella that he was not qualified to be a Member of Parliament because according to him, as at the time registering for the election, he (Yumkella) had not renounced his US citizenship.
The NGC as a party submitted papers to be part of the matter while at the same time Charles Francis Margai filed another petition against the candidate of the APC, Samura Kamara that he was not elected in a democratic atmosphere and that he is a British Citizen.
The petition that got Sierra Leoneans nervy was in the run-off election when one Lawyer Ibrahim Sorie took NEC to court.
In the whole petition stuff, Sierra Leoneans also heard the term ‘RECLUSE’ in which some supreme court judges recluse themselves from one of the petition matters.
As part of the petition matter, another legal term that most Sierra Leoneans will understand as a result of the election is “injunction.”
High Court Judge, Justice Dwazark put an interim injunction on the vehicular restriction that was pronounced by the police but the injunction was not later vacated by the judge.
Also another High Court Judge, Justice Abdul Rahman Mansaray slammed injunction on the Electoral Commission, stopping them from going ahead with run-off election as planned.
Justice Mansaray later vacated the decision and gave some orders which some lawyers described as “irregular orders.”
Sierra Leoneans are still making fun about manual counting. One of the orders of high court of Justice Abdul Rahman Mansaray which affected the date for the ru-off election was ‘manual counting.’
Although the electoral commission insisted that the election was purely manual, the losing party keep insisting that they should go by the court order.
EXCEL SPREAD SHEET AND ELECTRONIC SOFTWARE
It was in the argument between the SLPP and the APC about what system to use for the final tally that we had the term, Excel Spread Sheet and Electronic Software.
APC wanted Excel Spread Sheet and the SLPP wanted sophisticated electronic software but at the end of the day both systems were used to satisfy both parties.