February 23, 2021
By Stephen V. Lansana
The Director of Media and Communications of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), Philip F. Kargbo has assured electorates in Kailahun of free, fair and non-violence election.
His comment came following the political violence and tension that arose between supporters of the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and an Independence candidate that led to the death of one person in Constituency 010 in Kailahun District.
The three candidates contesting the bye-elections in Constituency 010 include John Allieu of the main opposition All People’s Congress, Zainab Kama Braima of the SLPP, and an Independent Candidate, Ibrahim Sylvester Jusu Hengela. The Parliamentary bye-election is schedule for February 27, 2021.
Kargbo told this media that on Saturday they held a joint stakeholders meeting organized by the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) and NEC in Segbwema.
He said the meeting was graced by Democratic Institutions including Office of National Security (ONS), Human Rights Commission – Sierra Leone (HRC-SL), National Commission for Democracy (NCD), National Elections Watch (NEW), Paramount Chiefs, Chiefdom Authorities, and the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) and political stakeholders.
He said the meeting was a result of the tense political atmosphere in Constituency 010 in Kailahun, which led to homicide, noting that stakeholders pledged to continue their campaigns peacefully ahead of the February 27 bye-election.
He said the Saturday meeting was successful, and it was the first time that the Independence Candidate to come out of his hiding place, adding that the Paramount Chiefs and the political stakeholders, including candidates committed to a peaceful and non-violence election in the constituency and Ward as a whole.
The Director of Media and Communications said candidates resumed their usual campaign after the Saturday meeting, adding that the Independence candidate has been provided with a security.
“Since Saturday, we have not heard of any situation of violence, which served as an assurance that the stakeholders are committed to a peaceful and non-violence election,” he said.
He added that there was currently political tolerance among the candidates.
Kargbo said the recent violence served as a caution that NEC should create a level playing field, which they have done, adding that NEC will do what is within the ambit of the law.
He called on all those whose names are in the final voters register to go out and vote on February 27, 2021.
“If people do not have that assurance, they will be afraid to go out and vote,” he said. “The security sector has assured that they will provide adequate security before, during and after the elections.”
He added PPRC have also assured of creating a level playing field for all candidates.
“We want to assure the general public that, as NEC we will follow all our procedures. The Regional Returning Officer will announce the preliminary results on Sunday; and on Tuesday, the National Returning Officer and Chief Electoral Commissioner of NEC, Mohamed K. Konneh will announce the final results,” he said. “Nobody should be hesitant to come out and cast his or her vote.”
He encouraged all registered voters in constituency 010 and Ward 012 to come out and vote.