“We would review our government-to-government programs with Sierra Leone” – David Reimer, US Ambassador
David Reimer, the United States Ambassador to Sierra Leone, has once again reiterated Washington’s position regarding the contested June 24 election and the “integrity and authenticity of the outcomes” that were declared by Sierra Leone’s Electoral Commission (ECSL).
As revealed in a leaked interview captured by Radio Democracy 98.1fm on Wednesday, after the radio station going off the air shortly before the broadcast, he emphasized reservations about the overall electoral process and how that will affect bilateral relations between the two countries.
“The United States is concerned about irregularities in the results that were announced by the ECSL — that includes a big difference between the ECSL announced results and the parallel vote tabulation, as well as inconsistencies that were analyzed by domestic and international observers,” said Ambassador Reimer.
“All of these things raise questions in our mind… about the integrity of the official results,” he further affirmed.
However, he clarified that the United States had refrained from extending congratulations to President Julius Maada Bio, who secured 56 per cent of the presidential vote as per the official results.
Ambassador Reimer also emphasized that the United States does not intend to uphold its collaborations “with the citizens of Sierra Leone,” which encompassed healthcare initiatives. Nevertheless, there would be a reassessment of bilateral government programs, including the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compact grant valued at hundreds of millions of dollars.
“Sierra Leone had done everything else up to that point to get a compact… (but) given the fact that there are all sorts of questions about the results, we’re taking a look at everything, and that includes the MCC compact,” Ambassador Reimer elaborated.
He finally, mentioned that Washington advocates for an “external, impartial examination of the election” and encouraged a constructive dialogue between the government, civil society, and political factions.
In early August, President Bio declared the establishment of a committee, consisting of civil society members and development partners, to scrutinize the voting process, with vice president Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh leading the initiative.
Reimer remarked during the interview, “It’s inherently challenging for an individual who was a candidate in the election to objectively oversee the process without bias.”
The opposition All People’s Congress (APC), which contests the election results, has declined engagement in local or national governance, leading to the majority of MPs boycotting parliament since it opened for business in July.