African Liberation Day: “PPRC Brutal Injustice Meted On PDL Is Unconstitutional, Undemocratic And An Insult To The Dignity Of The Sierra Loenean Masses”
Peace! Fellow patriotic Sierra Leoneans,
I am sending this message from my home town, Lunsar in the Marampa chiefdom of Port Loko district, for the kind attention of all Sierra Leoneans, whether they live in the country or outside. This message comes to you on behalf of members, supporters, and sympathizers of the People’s Democratic League (PDL), and is meant to prick the conscience of the international community, and particularly every Sierra Leonean, to wake from the slumber and take action for the good of humanity.
This historic day today, May 25, 2020 is historic and is celebrated globally to reaffirm African peoples’ commitment to Pan-Africanism, as well as the total liberation and unification of the African continent in all spheres-political and socio-economic.
It was on 15 April, 1958 a year after the independence of Ghana that African leaders and political activists held their first conference as independent African States, in Accra. Those present in that gathering were leaders and representatives from Ghana, Egypt, Ethiopia, Liberia, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia and the Union of the Peoples of Cameroon.
The conference, which was called by Ghana’s President Osagyfo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, laid the foundation for the African Liberation Day. African Freedom Day was declared in Accra, Ghana on 15th April, 1958 and 25th May, 1963 was declared African Liberation Day, to replace the African Freedom Day. The African Liberation Day therefore symbolizes total liberation of all territories of the African continent and determination of Africans to free themselves from the clutches of foreign domination and exploitation.
Fellow patriotic Sierra Leoneans, on this day of African liberation, I and members and supporters of the People’s Democratic League (PDL) join compatriot Africans on the continent and the diaspora in observing this day. I salute this year’s theme: “Sanctions on Zimbabwe, Venezuela and Cuba are act of war”. The US unilateral sanctions against Africa, Venezuela and Cuba have created unnecessary humanitarian crisis, whereby the governments of those affected countries are deprived of everything necessary to take care of the wellbeing of their people. This must be resisted to save lives and move away from the dependency syndrome to become truly independent and prosperous society.
It is no mistake that we mark this historic day as a traditional, grassroots, democratic, Pan-African, socialist-leaning Party, to salute the courage and bravery of those who fought and sacrificed in order that Africa can free itself from the yoke of foreign domination and to assert itself as a totally liberated continent.
African Liberation Day has helped to raise political awareness in African communities across the world. It has also been a source of information about development in Africa.
Sierra Leoneans have felt the blight of tribalism, sectionalism, banana politics and visionless agendas. We have fought eleven year senseless, brutal fratricidal war, which left us traumatized and devastated, in terms of human and economic losses. These are not the marks of freedom or what independence from colonialism means. Out of this experience that the PDL is appealing to all Sierra Leoneans to eschew violence and stop supporting leaders that have no vision for our country and Africa. We must stand as a proud nation, reflecting on the aspirations of the founding fathers of our country, for peace, democratic good governance, justice, rule of law and prosperity.
Other African countries like Rwanda, Madagascar, Burundi, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Botswana, for instance, are forging their own paths to progress. This is what is called independence and patriotism. Sierra Leone should copy the experience of those countries, and work for the general well-being of our nation. After all, Sierra Leoneans have no place they can call their home except Sierra Leone.
On behalf of the People’s Democratic League (PDL), I salute African Liberation Day and look forward to work for the actualization of the goals set-out by the Pan-African movement, for peace, unity, development and prosperity of Africa. Long live the freedom of the African continent!
I now come to the issue of the People’s Democratic League (PDL) and our resolved to transform into a full-fledged political party for Sierra Leone. Four years ago today, on May 25, 2016 the People’s Democratic League was re-launched as a third and alternative political platform to the failed political system or status quo in Sierra Leone. In that historic event, which was largely attended by representatives from all districts of the country and the media, I announced our readiness to start the process of registering the PDL as a political party.
It would be interesting for Sierra Leoneans to know that since it submission of application to the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) in 2016, the PDL is yet to be officially declared a full-fledged political party for Sierra Leone. The Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) is one of the legacies left behind by the Government (1996-2007) of the late President Dr. Ahmed Tejan Kabbah. The institutional mandate and independence of the Political Parties Registration Commission are enshrined in the 1991 multiparty Constitution of Sierra Leone.
The idea of establishing the PPRC was mooted out of a desire for consolidation of peace after years of one party tyrannical rule and violent past; and the desirability for a free, fair, peaceful and well-regulated election and the avoidance of political discord, as provided for by the Political Parties Act, 2002, which gave birth to the PPRC. The PPRC has two main objectives, which include:
1. The Registration and Regulation of the conduct of political parties in accordance with sections 34 and 35 of the 1991 multiparty Constitution of the Republic of Sierra Leone. And,
2. The Registration and Supervision of the conduct of political parties in accordance with the 1991 multiparty Constitution and the Political Parties Act of 2002.
This message serves also, to draw once again the attention of the international community to the naked violation with impunity, of our constitutional human rights and democratic freedoms, by the PPRC (Political Parties Registration Commission) in Freetown. Indeed, it is intended to vent out our legitimate grievance against the unconstitutional, intimidatory, undemocratic, hatred and diabolic tools employed by the PPRC in the PDL political party registration process.
We want to place it in history that the PDL is registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) in Freetown, as a pro-democracy and human rights group. On August 17, 2016 we submitted an application letter to the PPRC in Freetown requesting political party registration, to allow us participate in the 2018 elections and beyond.
On July 18, 2017 the PPRC issued a provisional political party registration certificate to the People’s Democratic League and on September 8, our constitution was published in the Sierra Leonean government Gazette for sixty days (60 days) as provided in the 1991 multiparty Constitution of the Republic of Sierra Leone and Regulations of the PPRC. Sixty days lapsed and without any objections from the public against the PDL.
Throughout that period, no objection was raised against the PDL, either from another political party or general public. Besides, intelligence reports gathered intimated that the late Justice Hamilton was under pressure from big party gurus of the former ruling cabal not to issue the PDL with final political party certificate (video and audio recordings available) until after the 2018 elections.
When approached by journalists, the late Justice Hamilton, who then was the Chairman for the PPRC, unabashedly told the media that his Commission was having problem with its printing machine and therefore the delay to issue PDL registration certificate (Audio recording available).
Besides these self-confessed contradictions, the Public Relations Officer of the PPRC, Lucian Momoh went to a local radio station in Freetown to announce that the PDL had already fulfilled all necessary requirements for final political party registration certificate to be issued to the Movement either 8th or 9th November, 2017. These revelations did not stop the PPRC from being subjected to the whims and caprices of corrupt, avaricious and greedy politicians, whose stock in trade is to muzzle the opposition in Sierra Leone.
At a meeting called and held on 6th December, 2017 at the PPRC conference room, the Chairman of the Commission, the late Justice Hamilton made it very clear that his office had never received any objection against PDL’s application for political party registration certificate. In that tense meeting unfortunately, the then ruling APC and opposition SLPP were invited, and no media or civil society group was visible, which made us to be suspicious of a sinister agenda on play to disenfranchise PDL and its members and supporters. This practice was never applied to any other political party registration process in Sierra Leone, except the PDL. It is also never practice in a civilized society.
Our understanding of the provisions of the 1991 multiparty Constitution of the Republic of Sierra Leone is that even if there was an objection against registration of the PDL, that should only be raised 60 (sixty) days after publication of our Constitution in the Sierra Leone Gazette.
To all intents and purposes, the PPRC hatred for the PDL was part of a grand conspiracy to mortgage the country’s democracy; this violated also the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, and is at variance with the practice of transparency and decency in a democratic dispensation.
In a democracy, free, fair and credible election is one of the key components to enhance participation of the people in governance; to ensure government accountability and encourage political competition through multiparty. An election can best be ascribed as credible only when the rules, regulations and laws governing the electoral process are followed accordingly.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights; that the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family are the fountain of freedom, justice, and peace in the world; and that human rights are universal, independent and indivisible. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights established that the authority to govern shall be based on the will of the people as expressed in periodic and genuine elections, free and fair elections.
That is to say, the authority of government can only derive from the will of the people through constitutional provision. The will of the people towards changing one government after the other can only be expressed in genuine, free and fair elections, which are organised at regular intervals on the basis of universal, equal and secret suffrage.
Going by the chronicle of our engagement with the PPRC since August 2016, it is clear that the PPRC has treated the PDL and its registration process to become a political party discriminately, and these too violated universal principles of democracy, including:
1. The constitutional and democratic right of the PDL and its members to participate in the governance of Sierra Leone; and equality to vote and be voted for in elections. The criterion for participation in the government of Sierra Leone is determined in accordance with the provisions of the 1991 multiparty Constitution and in consistent to Sierra Leone’s international obligations.
2. The right of the PDL to be registered as a full-fledged political party for the purpose of participating in elections.
3. The right of the PDL and its members:
a. To express political opinions without interference.
b. To seek, receive and impart information and to make an informed choice.
c. To move freely within the country in order to campaign for election.
d. To campaign on an equal basis with other political parties, including the party in governance.
4. The right of PDL candidates for election, equal opportunity to the mass media, particularly the mass communications media, in order to put forward their political views.
5. The right of PDL candidates for election to security and protection of their lives and property.
6. The right of the PDL and its members, to the protection of the law and to a remedy for violation of political and electoral rights.
7. The inclusion of electoral rights within the human rights subject to international protection was explicitly made through the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 21, which states:
a. Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
b. Everyone has the right to equal access to public service in his country.
c. The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.
8. The protections for human rights recognized under the Universal Declaration, that are defined and extended through the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Covenant, or ICCPR), a binding treaty adopted under United Nations auspices. The ICCPR also guarantees various civil and political rights associated with elections, including the freedoms of opinion and expression (Article 19), peaceful assembly (Article 21), and association (Article 22). The Covenant also clarifies the extent and under what circumstances restrictions can be placed on their exercise (Articles 19.3 and 21) – viz., if the restrictions are based in law and are socially necessary.
9. The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR, or Banjul Charter) in 1982, which came into effect in 1983. The treaty expressly recognizes various civil and political rights, including the freedoms of conscience (Article 8), information (Article 9), lawful association (Article 10), and assembly (Article 11). The right to participate in government (Article 13) is expressed in terms very similar to the corresponding provisions in the global and other regional treaties.
10. The 2001 ECOWAS protocol, which declares that the human rights set forth in the ACHPR and other international instruments apply in the political realm, including with respect to the activities of political parties and freedom of association and assembly.
All these cherished principles were denied to the People’s Democratic League by the PPRC in Freetown. It is unacceptable that a fundamental human right to belong to a political party of one’s choice, and the right to vote and be voted for in an election were denied to the PDL and its members by those entrusted with the responsibility to uphold and respect the 1991 multiparty Constitution of the Republic of Sierra Leone.
If democracy is all about the rule of law and respect for human rights, the 1991 multiparty Constitution of the Republic of Sierra Leone that guarantees all these cherished principles must be seen to be upheld in the first place. The PPRC, which we believe was carved out of the 1991 Constitution, should be seen upholding the right and democratic freedoms of Sierra Leoneans equally, to create or belong to the political parties of theirs, and to vote and be voted for in elections.
Despite all odds and hatreds, we stood the test of time and challenged the sorry state PPRC in Freetown. Our cry for respect for our constitutional human rights and democratic freedoms, which are enshrined in the 1991 multiparty Constitution of the Republic of Sierra Leone, is a credibility test case for the international community. History is replete with corrupt public officers whose path to corruption began with pawning the integrity and dignity of the people, for a life of opulence and immorality. Sierra Leoneans must therefore, remain vigilant in defence of our democracy.
As a peaceful and grassroots democratic organ, the PDL has made series of complains to national institutions that are believe are supposed to help defend and promote democracy, peace and human rights in Sierra Leone. But the silence and inaction to address our complains make it difficult for anyone to deny the fact that these institutions are not concerned about the peace, democracy and human rights in the country; but to sing and dance to the whims and caprices of traitors to the conscience of the Sierra Leonean nation. These institutions include: the Human Rights Commission, 50-50 Women’s Group, Legal Aid Board, Office of the Ombudsman, Office of National Security, Campaign for Good Governance, State House, Parliament, the Inter-Religious Council, United Nations Development Programme, Civil Society Movement, Ministries of Internal Affairs and Political and Public Affairs, Sierra Leone Bar Association, Public Sector Reform Unit, National Commission for Democracy, All Political Parties Association, members of the Diplomatic Core, the media (local and international), Fambul Tok and more.
We have also sent complaint letters to the United Nations, the White House in Washington, United Nations Human Rights Council, European Union, African Union, ECOWAS, the Arab League, Organisation of Islamic Council, yet the injustice on PDL registration process persists with day-in-and-day-out violation of our constitutional human rights and democratic freedoms, by the PPRC.
We want to make it known to the international community that the PPRC was never interested in promoting democracy in Sierra Leone. We believe the international community knows what it took them to restore Sierra Leone’s peace and democracy.
We are all witnesses to how the PPRC has serially assaulted on the constitutional right and democratic freedom of hundreds of thousands of PDL members, supporters and sympathizers and disenfranchised these Sierra Leoneans during the 2018 elections. In other words, the PPRC deliberately single out our members, supporters and sympathizers for deprivation of their nationality and participation in the democratic process.
The issue at stake is not whether the PDL has been issued with a provisional registration certificate; or documented in the Sierra Leone government Gazette, guilty or not, but whether PPRC handling of PDL registration was done in accordance with the process specified in the Sierra Leonean 1991 multiparty Constitution.
I want to take this opportunity once again to warn the PPRC to desist from taking further actions that may push us further down the slippery slope towards a protracted legal battle whereby the Sierra Leonean masses will have no other alternative but to defend their constitutional human rights and democratic freedoms. The PPRC must be made to know that it is a beneficiary of the 1991 multiparty Constitution, which the PDL worked so hard, sacrificed so much towards its enthronement.
The People’s Democratic League owes its humble beginning from the shame and disgrace brought to the Sierra Leonean people by the evils of one party dictatorship rule. We put God Almighty Allah first in our activities and it’s the aim of the PDL to lead Sierra Leone to a God-fearing nation. The PDL shall remain inclusive by given opportunities to all Sierra Leoneans, especially the poor and vulnerable communities and groups.
PDL is a forward-looking political organ which dares to be different from the rest. PDL is a grassroots Organisation whose membership abounds in every corner of Sierra Leone. PDL is not a platform to promote political and ethnic bigotry, or whipping-up parochial sentiments.
We have no other country we can call our God-given home and have nowhere to go and contest elections except Sierra Leone. Our non-participation in the March 2018 general elections had great impact on the outcomes. We had, had the belief that PDL participation in the 2018 March elections would go a long way to heal national wounds, help create an enabling environment for understanding and to contribute to the development and transformation of Sierra Leone.
As stated before, the People’s Democratic League is not an apron string to any other political party and it is not a proxima. What makes us difference is that ours is a people-oriented and not party-oriented. We look at what the Sierra Leonean people want and not what the PDL as a political organ wants. In other words, the PDL represents the people, and not the people represent the PDL.
We are therefore, not in politics for the fun of it. What motivated us has been a sense of patriotism and love for Sierra Leone. We are in politics because we want to be at the vanguard of the change the country so badly needed to move forward. We despise the culture of greed, corruption, confrontation, tribalism and backward mentality, which infests traditional politics. And we reject the stale and blind conformism of outdated policies and prejudices that are holding the Sierra Leonean nation hostage.
We want assure the international community of our commitment to peace and democracy, which are prerequisites for development and transformation. That we count on the prompt action of the international community to save our democracy, and to ensure that the PPRC does a noble service to Sierra Leone and to humanity by upholding the constitutional human rights and democratic freedoms of the PDL.
This is a naturally acclaimed demand and we want to state clear that, the PDL will not compromise its integrity to any designs. We demand that the PPRC gives us our political party registration certificate without any delay or condition attached.
Long live PDL!
Alimamy Bakarr Sankoh
Leader and National Chairman
People’s Democratic League
For and on behalf of the PDL members, supporters and sympathisers