November 16, 2017 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
The Sierra Leone Police yesterday disclosed that it would need about 20, 860 personnel to provide security for the March 7, 2018 multitier elections, especially on voting day.
The disclosure was made by Chief Superintendent Thomas Mustapha Lahai while reading a statement on behalf of Inspector General of Police Francis Munu at the official launch of a report on election preparedness by Society for Democratic Initiatives (SDI).
CSP Lahai revealed that the current operational strength of the police stands at 12,031, adding that attrition, international and other routine policing commitments take their share of the number.
“The police would need about 20,860 personnel to man all the polling stations nationwide and general election security. Additional recruitments of 2,000 personnel is ongoing but falls far short of our expected target,” he said.
He stressed the need to solicit support from other security agencies like the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces, Correctional Service, and National Fire Force.
According to him, while other agencies would be needed to man polling stations the RSLAF will assist the SLP in providing static deployment at key government installations nationwide as well as conduct joint patrols and mobile vehicular checkpoints.
With regards capacity building, CSP Lahai stated that various levels of training packages in relevant electoral skills are being prepared to be rolled-out to personnel and other stakeholders.
Earlier, Executive Director of SDI Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai stressed the need for collaboration between civil society organisations and election management bodies for the smooth running of the elections.
Mr Abdulai said the rationale of the report was to examine Election Management Bodies (EMBs) preparedness or otherwise in ensuring free, fair, credible and transparent elections.
He noted that in the run-up to the 2012 elections a similar report was launched, which was very informative in filling some of the gaps highlighted.
Also, Executive Director of Legal Aid Board, Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles, spoke about the need to engage political leaders on emerging issues in abid to nip in bud upheavals and demonstrations during the electioneering process.
“We all have a responsibility to make sure the electoral process work properly. We need to start the process of dialogue now,” she urged.