BBC local correspondent Umaru Fofanah on Saturday won the keenly contested election for the Presidency of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists.
Umaru won with 212 votes cast in his favour all over the country as against 137 for the incumbent Philip Neville and outgoing Secretary General Ibrahim Karim Sei who polled 63 votes nationwide.
In his victory speech after Electoral Commissioner Samuel john had declared him winner, Umaru said “We have proven that we are not the APC association of journalists, or the SLPP Association of Journalists or the PMDC association of journalists. We have shown emphatically that we are THE Sierra Leone Association of Journalists.”
Umaru praised his other competitors for the post saying “I am proud of my two fellow contenders Mr Ibrahim Karim Sei and Mr Philip Neville. I want to assure you that the bitterness that sometimes characterised our campaign is all over now. And our energy will be geared towards the welfare of journalists wherever they are in this country. “
Conceding defeat, the outgoing Acting President Philip Neville told Awoko “I feel that this is his turn, my turn will come one day. What I do hope is that he will be able to channel the course of journalists in this country like how I have been doing it.” Neville went on “but what the journalists have done today is not only to show their level of reasoning and maturity but also they’ve been able to indicate that they are carried away by sentiments.”
On the conduct of the elections Neville said “Honestly the process was fair, very fair very transparent and I do hope that the politicians will imitate us, we do hope the politicians can learn from us.”
Outgoing Secretary General and Presidential aspirant Ibrahim Karim Sei in conceding defeat told Awoko that “well it is a disappointment but again that is the will of the members, they have made their decision … (and you respect the decision) of course before even coming to this stage I have always said I will embrace the winner or whoever emerges as the winner.”
On the conduct of the elections Karim-Sei “Oh it was peaceful it was fair it was transparent, I have no problem with the electoral process infact this is the first time, first time in the history of SLAJ that we’ve had this kind of elections, we should be proud you know the way the elections have been conducted, I hope the process will continue with successive elections.”
The elections ended in a very peaceful manner with winners and losers shaking each other’s hands and congratulating each other. The new executive which takes over office immediately now includes Umaru Fofanah – President, Abdul Rahman Swarray – Vice President, Mustapha Sesay – Secretary General, Ishmeal Koroma – Assistant Secretary General, Financial Secretary – Marian Sesay, Organising Secretary – Hawa Tucker, Public Affairs Secretary – Saio Kamara.