February 28, 2018 By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma
The Institute for Governance Reform (IGR) has called on the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) to reverse the controversial decision to ban vehicular movement and allow for freedom of movement and maximum voter turnout on elections day.
According to a release from IGR, a Knowledge, Attitude and Practice (KAP) survey of December 2017 conducted by the Standing Together for Democracy Consortium reveals that about 12.5% (about 38,000 registered voters) have relocated from their previous residences to new ones.
“IGR fear that this number could rise. The KAP, for example, revealed that the victims of the mudslide disaster have relocated to areas outside their registration centre,” the release states.
The release further states that the research think tank was also concerned about movement of potential voters in the rural areas where people use commercial motorbikes and vehicles to travel to registration centres/stations that are miles away from their places of residence.
“Whereas nobody apart from the SLP is privy to the intelligence upon which they based their decision to restrict vehicular movement on Election Day, evidence abounds that the proposed strategy will disenfranchise many voters with the potential of reducing voter turnout in the March 7th elections,” the release notes.
The release further notes that the lawsuit against the NGC presidential candidate, Dr. Alhaji Kandeh Yumkella – on his citizenship status – filed by members of the All Peoples Congress (APC) party – and the one prepared by Lawyer Charles Francis Margai to challenge the candidacy of Dr. Samura Kamara – aspirant for the ruling APC – constitute an unfair act and one that is inimical to free, fair and democratic practice.
According to the release, both cases put undue pressure on the Judiciary to be drawn into a complex partisan politics.
“Whereas the electoral laws and the Sierra Leone Constitution give right to seek redress and clarifications on constitutional matters relating to electoral processes, we view the plethora of cases as a deliberate calculation by some parties to sow confusion and doubts in the minds of the voters about their opponents,” the release adds.
The release also states that IGR is concerned about recent elections violence in Kamalo, Kono, Koinadugu, Kambia, and Tonkolili, where all opposition parties involved in the fracas have blamed the incumbent regime for the violence.
It adds that there has been pattern of attacks on opposition party offices for which there has been no appropriate punishment since 2009.
“We also note complaints by the ruling APC that campaign posters of their presidential aspirants were destroyed during the SLPP rally on the 26th February.”
In the release, IGR urges the Political Parties Registration Commission, Sierra Leone Police and elections observers (local and international) to be proactive in naming perpetrators and bringing them to justice rather than using unhelpful diplomatic language that refers to deliberate attacks on certain political parties as clashes.