By State House Communication Unit
Following the conduct of the March 7 multi-tier elections, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) yesterday Monday 19th March updated President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma on preparations for the March 27 run-off election between the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) and the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP). During the meeting which took place at State House in Freetown, it was reported that political parties as well as ordinary citizens had raised concerns of widespread irregularities and malpractices that took place during the March 7 polls.
As a result of this, President Koroma stated that it was appropriate to provide updates and address all concerns raised for a peaceful conduct of the second ballot. He pointed out that it is the responsibility of the government to guarantee the security of the state and to ensure a peaceful and smooth transition. The president urged NEC to ensure that the conduct of the elections is transparent, acceptable and at the end of the day reflects the will of the people.
Giving updates on the commission’s preparedness for the run-off election, the executive secretary of NEC William Addo Davies disclosed that they had discussed several issues including results management systems through the political parties’ liaison committee, their readiness for the run-off polls, working with the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) and the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF), and agreement with the SLP to provide adequate policing and safety of voting materials and staff.
The discussions also focused on irregularities and electoral malpractices, integrity of NEC staff, security and safety of voting materials, audit of NEC IT systems, detailed reporting and announcement of results, the spate of political violence across the country among other things.
The aforementioned therefore necessitated a unanimous agreement on the following:
• That security personnel must be fully involved in the transportation of voting materials from the airport to polling centres, tally centres down to Freetown;
• That MAC-P to be invoked and the security should take full responsibility involving the security of voting materials and polling staff;
•A comprehensive list to be provided for all security personnel that will be deployed and manning polling centres for justification of voting;
•Provide detailed reporting and adhere to the legal procedure on counting of votes;
• Party agents should be fully involved in the process;
•Results/Reports must be displayed and copies given to the party agents;
•Any presiding officer or NEC staff identified with any political party must not work in the run-off election;
• Improved vehicular restrictions as commercial vehicles will be accredited to park at specific bus stations to convey voters to different polling stations. Allow tricycles “Kekeh” to come out and support the process.
The meeting saw in attendance the vice president, National Electoral Commissioners, including the Chief Electoral Commissioner, the security sector, Office of National Security, several cabinet ministers, and the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC).