February 9, 2018 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
Ten of the sixteen registered political parties contesting the March 7 multitier elections have demanded that the National Electoral Commission disclose details about the printing of ballot papers, as well as other related items.
In a resolution agreed by the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), Coalition for Change (C4C), National Grand Coalition (NGC), People’s Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC), National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and National Progressive Democrat (NPD), among others, the electoral body was urged to disclose particulars of the printing company, contract details, including ballot paper quantities ordered, serial numbers assigned and shipment details.
The parties demanded to know the arrangements for political party’s observation on the arrival of voting materials and their movement to the commission’s warehouse at Wellington in Freetown.
“We need to know how parties can monitor the distribution and dispatch of ballot papers from the warehouse to district centres. NEC must locate ballot boxes in full public view so as to ensure transparency and discourage the stuffing of ballot boxes with pre-marked ballot papers,” the parties stated in the resolution.
According to them, NEC must allow one of the two accredited party agents to observe the issuing and verification of ballot papers, while the other is allowed to observe the marking and voting process.
They also advised NEC to seriously consider announcing results at the district level, given the presence of a Regional Returning Officer and the technology to effect such a change in the announcement procedures of the past.
Interim Chairman of the National Grand Coalition, Dr. Dennis Bright, said what they were asking for from NEC will help to take away possibility of irregularities and fraud in the process and ensure free, fair and transparent elections, which will be accepted by everyone.
“We want these issues to be addressed now before the day of voting. It will pave the way for free, fair and credible election which we as political parties will accept irrespective of who wins,” he said.