BY: MOHAMED SAHR

Chieftaincy elections in Sierra Leone’s northern province have descended into chaos amid widespread allegations of underhanded tactics and electoral malpractice reminiscent of a house of cards scenario. Reports reveal a grim landscape of vote-buying, intimidation, violence, and even murder, tarnishing the integrity of the electoral process and compromising the customary values once cherished by the communities.

The stakes are exceptionally high as the victors in these elections assume the mantle of paramount chief, wielding substantial power over resources and people within their chiefdoms. However, the legitimacy of these elections has been called into question, with accusations of political interference and bribery at the expense of rightful ruling families and their constituents.

Investigations into the unfolding incidents across various chiefdoms in the Northern Province have unearthed a troubling pattern of irregularities and manipulation. Families have voiced grievances over the apparent bias and manipulation by relevant authorities, alleging a concerted effort to sway the election in favor of select individuals or families.

In one glaring example from Kamadugu Yiraya Chiefdom, the electoral process was marred by discrepancies as candidates Marah B Banja and Mansaray Amara Tamba engaged in a runoff. Shockingly, the subsequent results saw a dramatic shift in favor of Mansaray Tambay Amara, raising suspicions of foul play.

Similarly, in Barawa Wollay Chiefdom, Falaba District, a disqualified candidate managed to contest the election under dubious circumstances, casting doubt on the legitimacy of the entire electoral process. Despite protests from the legitimate ruling house, the election proceeded, highlighting the lack of oversight and accountability in the chieftaincy elections.

Furthermore, the Neine Chiefdom witnessed violence and unrest following the annulment of an election due to alleged irregularities. The rerun election descended into chaos, prompting a swift response from security forces to quell the violence and restore order.

Civil Rights Activists have called for a thorough investigation into the alleged fraud and irregularities surrounding the TA list in Kowa Chiefdom. Concerns have been raised regarding discrepancies in signatures and misspelled or altered names on the list, indicating a systemic breakdown in the electoral process.

As national politics loom over the horizon, the government faces mounting pressure to address these allegations and restore faith in the electoral system. Calls have been made for an independent inquiry to investigate the rampant irregularities and ensure transparency and accountability in chieftaincy elections across the Northern Province. Only through decisive action can the integrity of these crucial elections be restored, and justice served for the people of Sierra Leone.

 

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