Politics is laden with landmines. For every open move, there could be thousands of hidden moves that stay in the shadows far from the eyes and ears of the unsuspecting public. And in a society as illiterate as ours where the electorate are in the main uneducated, such moves that are promoted as good for the people, are mostly fraught with inconsistencies that point to something untoward being planned by the sitting government aimed at their continued stay in power.

This is what has been happening in Sierra Leone, as the SLPP keeps making moves, however un-procedural and without regard for other laid down rules, in an open attempt to consolidate power. But why? To rig the 2023 elections!

Upon realising that they have lost the momentum in their flagship campaign promises to fight corruption, violence, lawlessness, indiscipline and leakages by doing more than the previous 10 year regime in under three years, PAOPA, since it’s first strategic move, is making it clear that it has no intention of losing 2023, no matter how low it has to sink to do so. And to hammer that message in, certain moves were, and continued to be made.

PAOPA started governing with a minority in parliament, which then put it at a serious deficit when it comes to accomplishing its agenda, for which it would need parliamentary assent.

Refusing a rerun of disputed parliamentary elections, the government instead settled for the first runner up, and by so doing unseated 10 duly elected MPs by the people of Sierra Leone, going as far as allowing armed law enforcement officers into the Well of Parliament, to remove lawmakers.

There is not enough space to be detailed about the many other instances that show that SLPP is planning on rigging the 2023 election, save for a perfunctory mention: the SOE; the economically debilitating overnight curfews; the show of force by trigger happy officers who serve the government in power as opposed to the people that gave them the power, and them being shielded from prosecution and other sanctions; the continued jailing of alleged rioters from Lunsar, Tombo and Makeni; the deaths at the Pademba Road prison allegedly by men from State House security; moves to make the Auditor General a lapdog agent of State House; attempts to stoke tribalism by recording, exposing and misconstruing the Mayor’s words in council; gross disconnect from the citizenry (it took long for PAOPA to acknowledge the Susan’s Bay fire victims, etc.); and as a show of party force, the intraparty violence that also spilled outside to include innocent and hardworking jobless youths at Belgium trying hard to make a living.

While PAOPA has failed to get the desired results from all these attempts, as they continue to fail miserably, it remains unperturbed and keeps coming up with more activities from its arsenal of strategies.

After the World Bank approved $6 million for an unconstitutional census it is unprepared to and incapable of executing, Statistics Sierra Leone, despite being urged to do so, finally did the commendable thing by postponing the planned census until further notice.

Still unperturbed in its drive to consolidate and so rig the election and upon realising that it had given up a major source of control of the public space with the removal of the criminal aspect of the Public Order Act (POA) by the establishment of the IMC, PAOPA is now on a 180 degree move to tighten this space and limiting our voices by lobbying parliamentarians to speed up the much more draconian Cybercrime Bill.

If our MPs claim to represent our interest, then they should not allow this bill to pass. We expect, as with the Local Government Bill that is aimed at bringing city councils it failed to win under its direct control, MPs from all parties to vote against its passage. You should know that these are not partisan bills, but ones that go against everything we stand for as a people: freedom – freedom of choice to elect who we want to; and freedom of speech, on and offline. We need more freedoms, not controls.

Why would any government want to change local government election law that is a constitutional democratic principle? It wouldn’t be in our best interest. A government that works in the interest of the people will not do this as it limits our power and adds more to theirs. Instead of changing how local governments are elected, why not instead review the constitution to cut down on the president’s power to appoint, which would free up the police chief, the professional head of the military, the ACC, the judiciary and other institutional heads meant to check your balances and or excesses?

But as if by fate, these moves meant to consolidate SLPP power against the people, keep failing. And we expect them all to fail because they are not in the interest of the people.

After lobbying with their constituents on the proposed Cybercrime Bill, MPs have been told not to allow its passage. Alongside all other MPs, SLPP MPs are expected to also vote against these bill, as they are not a partisan but a national matters that affect us all. Should these bills pass, how do you think the new regime would treat you when in the opposition, as per our culture of retaliation?

If this government plans to win 2023, rigging it the way it has been attempting is certainly not the way as there is no need to bring all these state functionaries under your control while at the same time limiting our freedoms.

Any and all attempts to execute the illegal Midterm Census, to bring local councils and councillors under local government ministry hence presidential control, and passing the Cybercrime Bill are all aimed at forcing a failed regime on a people that wants change, hence they will have to rig the 2023 elections.

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