August 26, 2019
By Patrick Jaiah Kamara
On Saturday, August 24, 2019, residents in Constituency 110, went to the polls to elect their new Member of Parliament amid chaotic atmosphere and heavy security presence.
The tightly contested re-run by-election in the constituency came as a result of a High Court ruling handed down in May this year. The court stated among other things that the election which was earlier won by the All Peoples Congress(APC) candidate, Kadie Davie, was marred by electoral violence, intimidation of voters, and massive malpractices.
The National Electoral Commission (NEC) set August 24 for the rerun in which four political parties contested.
Josephine Jackson of the ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP), Kadie Davies of the main opposition APC, Mohamed Kabbah of the National Grand Coalition (NGC) and Femi Claudius Cole of the Unity Party contested in the said election.
The police Media Boss, Superintendent Brima Kamara told journalists that they deployed more than 300 police officers to man the election. At least each polling station was manned by six or more general duty police and some armed police personnel.
The APC candidate, Kadie Davies told this medium just after voting that in one of the polling stations at Angola Town that there would have to be voter apathy as many of ‘her supporters’ were afraid to come out and vote as police was ‘targeting’ them.
She stated that the campaign period was tough for her as the day provided to her by NEC was disrupted by supporters of the SLPP.
“The campaign period was a very tough one. It was not easy for us at all. Today is the de-day. I have voted. Am ok with the process as of this morning, but just on my way back home, I was informed that two of my supporters-Yankay Macauley and Fredrick who had left Lakkah village to vote at Goderich have been arrested without voting,” she said.
She added that her supporters were not allowed to vote which she said was a clear manifestation of police intimidation and victimization.
She said if for any reasons police wanted to arrest her supporters they should have waited for them to exercise their franchise, thus accusing them of biasness.
She stated that she had been reliably informed that as a result of the incident that happened at Hamilton on July 29, police had prepared a list containing names of her supporters to be arrested.
“We also had an intelligence that police had to effect more arrest on Election Day. Based on this there are so many people in hiding. I can confirm to you that all those twenty-three people behind bars are my supporters. The police are bias. They are only targeting my supporters. Enough is enough! Let me use this medium to call on human rights organizations and international community for their immediate intervention,” she added.
At the Sulpon Community School, Mambo village, voting could not start at the actual time because the SLPP polling centre manager alleged that the voter register that were in his possession did not match those in the hands of his opponents. He claimed that several names were omitted from the register he had. This stalemate posed some serious threat to start of the polling.
However, polling finally started 2:30pm, but there were relatively few voters in the queue. Most of the voters who had earlier arrived at the polling centre to vote had to leave.
Head of External Relations at NEC, Albert Massaquoi said as a result of the delay, the election managing body thought it fit to extend the voting for that till 7pm.
A voter, Hannah Kargbo, told Concord Times that she was frustrated as she had spent more than three hours at the centre without voting.
“I have to go back home. I came here 7 am with the hope that I will vote and go about my normal business, but it seems that is not visible for now. If I spent the rest of the day here, what would me and my children eat today. If I don’t sell, we don’t eat,” she said.
Also, SLPP’s Josephin Jackson confidently said that she was satisfied with the process, but claimed that certain unaccredited APC stalwarts have been intruding into polling centres.
She urged everyone to stay calm and go about their normal business after they have casted their votes.
Meanwhile, close to the polling, one of the polling centers in Angola town was intruded by unknown thugs, who allegedly carted away one ballot box and destroyed ballot papers and boxes.
The intruders used pepper spray to scare away NEC officials, polling and party agents, and some unarmed police men to get their way out.
Currently, the APC have 57 Members of Parliament (MP) and a win for the main opposition will see them equal the ruling SLPP, who at the moment has 58 lawmakers.