Culled from Standard Times
What many observers have seen as a grand plan to rig the 2007 national elections has failed, as the chairperson of the National Electoral Commission Ms. Christiana Thorpe has taken her stance, which is opposed to allowing the National Identification Cards to be used for voting in next year’s elections.
Political analysts have observed that the attempt by the Minister of Internal Affairs, Pascal Egbenda to lure the National Electoral Commissioner into the belief that using the national ID cards will be cost-effective has a hidden agenda that is not unconnected with vote rigging.
According to Ms Christiana Thorpe, the minister went ahead to make the idea of voting with National ID cards public without the consent of the National Electoral Commission. She considered this move as misleading and unfortunate. Indeed it is not the place of the minister to prescribe any method by which NEC should conduct the forthcoming elections.
NEC as an independent body, is supposed to know its responsibilities, know what is good and the safe methods required of running the 2007 national elections.
‘Ms. Thorpe and her team are no doubt au fait with Sierra Leone’s electoral process, legally or otherwise’ a member of the SLPP remarked. What is the minister’s problem?” Ms Thorpe asked.
Minister Egbenda’s cost-cutting prescr1ption has created a lot of suspicion as there is an on going process involving snapping thousands and thousands of people nationwide under a so called grassroots association.
The danger about the exercise is that only one passport size picture is given to each person snapped.
The rest and negatives of these pictures are not given to the owners.
Sources close to the SLPP explained that the registration of members under the grassroots organization is to give each and every registered member a soft loan of five hundred thousand Leones (Le 500,000) under the micro credit scheme. “Those who agree to vote for the SLPP” an insider said.
Many believe the micro credit talk is just a cover up and that the whole business has political undertones. The people are asked to pay a registration fee of eight thousand Leones and buy a T-shirt for ten thousand Leones as preconditions for the loan, sources explained.
Already, tension is allegedly building up among those that have registered for over three months now and have not received a cent.
However, sources close to the Hill Station/Regent and Fergusson Street headquarters of the grassroots association say the loans will be dished out after a grand launching ceremony expected to be done by the vice president, Mr. Solomon Berewa who is allegedly the godfather of the grassroots movement.
A veteran politician who wanted to know about the micro credit scheme asked where will the money come from to give thousands of people the sum of five hundred thousand Leones each. Furthermore, he wanted the issue of micro-credit is brought to the people at this time when elections are gradually approaching. Critics of the “grand micro credit plan” opined that the micro credit plan is an insult to the intelligence of the people of Sierra Leone. “It is possible the un-educated literate teachers who are sheepishly championing this movement out of greed and selfishness are not conscious of that” the veteran politician remarked. “Ms. Thorpe should be very watchful and keep up the good work” he advised.