Sierra Leone: As He Wins Bye-Electionapc’s Osman Karankay Seeks to Unite Party Executive

The newly elected Member of Parliament for Constituency 050 in the Port Loko District, Osman Karankay Conteh, has told Concord Times that his first priority would be to unite the party's constituency executive, which he said was divided on the decision to award him a symbol to contest the bye-election.

"I will work hard to unite the party executive members because they were divided on my nomination for the award of symbol. The party remains paramount after election and there is no way we can afford to remain divided as a party," he said.

Five people vied for the ruling party symbol to contest the bye-election, with Mr Conteh emerging as the victor.

Karankay contested the 2012 parliamentary election under the main opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party but lost to Isata Kabia, who contested under the ruling All Peoples Congress.

He had earlier told Concord Times prior to his election that he was awarded the APC symbol to contest the just concluded bye-election because his popularity was overwhelming and that there was no way the party's big wigs in the district would have denied him the symbol.

"For me to get over 10,000 votes in the 2012 election means a lot. My popularity is overwhelming and the APC had no alternative but to award me the symbol," he said.

He again told Concord Times, prior to the bye-election, that his problem was not to win the election but the margin of votes, adding that he wanted to make a record in the history of bye-election by defeating his opponents by a large margin.

He eventually emerged as the winner with 68.81 percent of the total votes cast, followed by Mohamed Kamarainba Mansaray of the Alliance Democratic Party, who secured 29.2 percent, while the candidate for the main opposition SLPP, Alusine Bundu, secured 2 percent of the votes.

"I have delivered as promised," said Karankay, adding that his popularity had been proven and that the people demonstrated love and trust they have for him.

Meanwhile voting went on in a serene atmosphere in the constituency, although the campaign leading to the parliamentary by-election was occasioned by pockets of violence between mainly supporters of the ruling APC and the newly established ADP.

In Lunsar, which had 12 polling stations, voters came out peacefully to cast their ballots for their respective candidates.

Movement of people was not curtailed, as everybody went about their normal business.

As the outcome indicates, the contest was mainly between Mohamed Kamarainba Mansaray of the ADP and Osman Karankay Conteh of the APC, while Alusine Bundu of the SLPP remained docile in the entire process, may be as result of complacency.

The constituency was declared vacant after the former Member of Parliament was appointed Minister of State II in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

Allegations of violence and malpractice by the ADP and APC candidates were not visible on election day.

The former had alleged that police restricted his movement and that some members of the APC party gave money to NEC officials to rig the election, while the latter had alleged that the ADP was dishing out cash to voters and forced them to take oath to vote for him.

Both political parties were seen transporting voters from nearby villages to cast their ballot in Lunsar town, which was not frowned at by the security forces as it was meant to aid the movement of people to different centres.

All political party agents expressed concern with regards the number of representation in each pooling station.

"We signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Electoral Commission before the election that two party agents should be present in each polling station but the status quo changed on the field. We were told that only one party agent should be present in the polling station while the rest of us stay outside," said Abdul Karim Mansary of the ADP.

Similar sentiment was expressed by the APC party agent, Abdul Yusuf Kanu: "I am worried that NEC had to change their decision."

But Commissioner Miatta French, who was interviewed by journalists, said they did not sign any MOU with political parties with regards the number of their representation in polling stations.

She said although two party agents were accredited to each pooling station, only one from each political party would be allowed in the polling station to avoid congestion, while the others would be around to change their colleagues who might be tired or want to attend to nature.

The Constituency has 31 polling centres, 110 polling stations, plus 31,306 registered voters. But according to the National Electoral Commission, only 15,257 voted in the bye-election.

Source: Concord Times

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