NATIONAL GRAND COALITION PARTY
14 NAIMBANA STREET, FREETOWN.
Tel: 030 748961
TONKO LIMBA WARD 196 LOCAL COUNCIL BYE ELECTION RE-RUN 12th March 2019
The National Grand Coalition (NGC) would like to state its position on the conduct and outcome
of the Tonko Limba local council bye election re-run on 9th March 2019 in Ward 196 as follows:
1. There is sufficient evidence that ballot papers had leaked out and were in free circulation in the public before the start of the election; and as reported by NEW two people were caught with pre-marked ballot papers in Kagboroh and Mile 14 polling centres
2. During his visit to Mile 14 polling center, as the only authorized NGC high profile politician allowed to do so, the Chairman of NGC was taken on a conducted tour by the polling center manager. It was discovered that in polling station 2, at least one booklet of ballot papers being issued to voters was not a 2019 but a 2018 printed version.
3. In spite of the fact that the 2018 ballots were officially issued, voters who had the misfortune of being given those ballot papers were disenfranchised since their votes were nullified during the counting/tallying process.
4. There is evidence of over voting in a number of stations including Masunthu and Kagbonkoh; in all, over 100 surplus votes were counted in polling stations.
5. The re-count done at the tallying center as demanded by the NGC and APC confirmed that indeed there was over voting spread across the polling centres.
6. The NGC is aware of one NEC Polling Centre Manager, Kelfala Yansaneh at the Kagbonkoh centre who was taken into police custody as a suspect of electoral malpractices and identified as an active SLPP operative. We are not aware of three other officials handed over to the police as NEC claims in its 11th March statement. The NGC chairman visited the Kambia Police after the polling process for updates and was informed of only three arrests, one Polling centre manager and two voters caught with ballot papers including Momoh Samura.
7. The tallying of results is mandatory and must be done in full view of party agents and officials if basic standards of transparency and credibility are to be achieved. The tallying process started in full view of the public. But after the computer had rejected the results inputed a number of times and even manual operation had proved inconclusive, the tallying was suspended and the Chief Electoral Commissioner and his staff retired into the NEC office for close to four hours abandoning party officials, observers and security personnel in the hall. Upon his return to the tallying centre, without concluding the tallying process the Chief Electoral Commissioner abruptly read out the result that is now considered the official outcome of the Tonko Limba election.
8. The NGC considers this behavior not only as suspicious but also disrespectful to party officials who had to spend the entire night waiting for the tallying to be concluded. The inability of NEC to tally results in a single ward election speaks volumes of the level of competence that currently describes the leadership of that institution. Their action of proceeding to read results after so many irregularities had occurred without concluding the public tallying process is unacceptable and renders the so-called results un-usable.
9. The contemptuous behavior of senior NEC officials towards party officials in the tallying centre is alarmingly consistent with that of lower level NEC officials in the polling centers towards political party polling agents whose complaints and expressed concerns were simply shrugged off or treated with levity as if NEC had a particular goal set that it had to achieve whatever it takes.
10. Considering the extremely large scale of irregularities noticed by both political parties and independent observers of the said election, added to the fact that the NEC, as the institution responsible for organizing elections in Sierra Leone was in several cases directly implicated in the malpractices through the actions of its staff, and given its inability to complete the tallying process in public (which is mandatory) before producing a result as if from nowhere, we are of the firm conviction that the NEC as it is currently constituted has neither the competence nor the integrity to continue conducting elections in our fragile democracy. Furthermore, it is clear that this institution no longer commands the trust, confidence and respect of the majority of political parties and of a significant portion of civil society who acted as observers.
11. The entire Tonko Limba electoral catastrophe presents a scary prospect of what the 2022/3 general elections would look like and we fear that our country will once again be plunged into chaos if those elections are conducted under the same leadership of NEC.
12. The process of building our democratic institutions and improving on our governance systems through the combined efforts of Government institutions, political parties, civil society organizations and the constant support of the international community is now clearly under threat because of a general lack of confidence and trust in NEC by the people and bodies it is supposed to serve.
13. The Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) initiated and coordinated pre- election efforts that ensured that the Tonko Limba Ward election was totally free of violence and very peaceful. The Sierra Leone Police (SLP), the Office of National Security (ONS), and other security partners also provided enough security on polling day. It is therefore a big shame that what would have been a perfect election was corrupted in so many ways by those whose duty it was to conduct it.
In the light of the above, the NGC calls for the intervention of Government and the International Community to ensure the immediate resignation or removal of the Chief Electoral Commissioner, and the establishment of an independent judicial investigation into the conduct of the 9th March Tonko Limba Ward 196 election.
Dr. Dennis Bright Chairman and Leader National Grand Coalition