July 5, 2017
The National Elections Watch (NEW) in Sierra Leone has called on the Office of the National Security (ONS) to beef-up security on elections day to ensure that election materials and staffs are protected.
NEW stated in a press statement issued yesterday on the recently concluded by-elections that were conducted in Kambia and Tonkolili districts respectively.
“NEW calls on the Office of National Security to coordinate the security around elections to ensure that NEC staff and materials are protected,” the release stated.
According to the release, the voter turnout in those by-elections was relatively high and commended NEC for professionally conducting the said by-elections in Wards 139 and 212.
“National Election Watch (NEW) commends the National Electoral Commission (NEC) for the successful conduct of the past two bye-elections in Wards 139 and 212 in Kambia and Tonkolili Districts respectively on Friday 30th June 2017 with a relatively high voter turnout,” the release said.
The release said the election in ward 139 in Kambia district was contested by the Alliance Democratic Party (ADP), All Peoples Congress (APC), and an independent candidate while the one in Tonkolili was contested by the ADP, APC and the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP).
The statement said the elections were very sensitive attracting high ranking political actors who served as political party agents.
The statement stated that security presence around the polling centres were visible but that their role was undermined by senior state officials and high profile party functionaries in both locations.
The statement raised serious apprehension on the ballot paper issuer of NEC doing voter education in the polling stations while the voting was in progress to forestall spoilt ballots.
“NEW was especially impressed with the presence of senior elections officials including the Chief Electoral Commissioner,” the release stated.
NEW observed that electorates attempted to vote with identity cards that do not belong to them in Kambia which resulted into apprehending two.
The released said the ADP political party leader was seen campaigning within 400 meters of the polling station and that in Tonkolili District, a senior NEC official in the Operations Department of the Commission after intercepting the Minister of Education Science and Technology was beaten by the security personnel that was with the minister.
However, NEW has recommended that the Political Party Registration Commission (PPRC) impress upon party officials and stalwarts to comply with NEC regulations on accreditation as the increase of interference into the electoral process by state officials and senior political party functionaries was on the increase.