…Says unaccredited SLPP big guns entered polling environment
April 24, 2019
While they observed that there were no accredited high profiled political party representatives in the just concluded Koya By-election as it were with the ward 196 re-run by-election in Tonko Limba, the National Elections Watch (NEW) has reported that the Deputy Minister of Basic Education and Senior Secondary School, Mrs. Emilia Gogra, and Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to Guinea, Ambassador Alimamy Hassan Bangura, separately and at different occasions entered polling environment at the Community Centre in Masiaka and Ahmadiyya Muslim Primary School also in Masiaka without accreditation from the National Electoral Commission(NEC).
NEW stated that the two eventually left the vicinity after NEC officials politely asked them to leave.
The said by-election was conducted on Saturday, April 20th in ward 257, Constituency 072 in Koya chiefdom, Port Loko district. The vacancy occurred following the death of the then substantive holder, Councilor John Sonpeter, on 26th.
According to NEW, although five political parties fielded candidates for the bye-election, only the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) and Unity Party (UP) had party agents in all the 27 polling stations in the ward.
Also, NEW observed that there was low voter turn-out in all the polling stations across the ward, and that such was evidenced by the fact that out of a total of 8,140 registered voters, only 2,244 turned out to cast their votes.
“As at 4 O’clock PM on polling day for example, only 172 people had voted at polling centre code 10213 at Kulafai Rashidden Islamic Primary School in Masiaka out of 1,109 registered voters; 436 voted at polling centre code 10210 at Ahmadiyya Muslim Primary School in Masiaka out of 1,550 registered voters; whilst only 57 voted at polling centre code 10209 in Rotifunk out of 897 voters on the register,” they stated.
NEW disclosed that they recruited, trained and deployed 27 permanent observers, ensuring one hundred percent coverage of all of the 27 polling stations in the ward.
“NEW further deployed its North Western regional leadership to serve as supervisors and roving observers, as well as to observe the tallying process at the NEC Tally Centre in Masiaka.”
NEW however observed that the election was conducted in a calm and peaceful atmosphere and that the entire polling process was opened and very orderly for which they applauded NEC, Office of National Security (ONS) and the Sierra Leone Police (SLP).
“Polling stations were opened before 7am and voting started at exactly 7am and closed at 5pm.”
“Abu Bakar Bangura of the SLPP polled 1,008 votes and was duly declared winner of the by-election by the NEC, followed closely by Santigie Sesay of the UP with 1,000 votes. And there were no objections or challenges to the process or its outcome by any of the contesting political parties.”
The civil society coalition stated that out of the 17 registered political parties for the March 2018 elections in Sierra Leone, only 5 political parties fielded candidates for the bye-election.
“They are the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), Unity Party (UP), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Republican National Independent Party (ReNIP), and Revolutionary United Front Party (RUFP). The All People’s Congress (APC) and National Grand Coalition Party (NGC) conspicuously did not participate in the bye-election.”
NEW called on the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) to facilitate dialogue with the aggrieved political parties and other relevant stakeholders, to find a way out of the current political impasse that caused the boycott of the bye-election by both the APC and NGC and also called on NEC and PPRC to engage political parties to enable them know the importance, relevance and the need for them to deploy party agents in polling stations during elections.
They also called on political party leaderships strongly advise their members to stop entering polling environment.
The prevailed on NEC, PPRC and ONS continue to monitor and enforce all rules and regulations covering the conduct of elections in the country and the MoUs political parties signed with PPRC and other Election Management Bodies (EMBs) regardless of who is involved.
Meanwhile, the main opposition All People’s Congress and the National Grand Coalition have earlier vowed to boycott all elections, as long as the head of NEC,N’fa Alie Conteh continues to occupy that position.