February 8, 2018 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
Ten out of seventeen registered political parties contesting the March 7 multitier elections yesterday condemned and opposed the decision by the Sierra Leone police to restrict vehicular movement on polling day.
In January this year, the SLP announced that they will be restricting the movement of vehicles on polling day, except vehicles belonging to the National Electoral Commission (NEC), Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC), observers, security agents and other essential services.
The move has attracted strong criticism from certain sections of the public and political parties, who see the move as a violation of citizen’s human right to free movement.
According to 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 Democrats (NPD), among others, the move, without consulting with them, creates suspicion as to the intention of the police force as a neutral body.
Reading a resolution signed by the parties, Interim Chairman and Leader of the NGC, Dr. Dennis Bright said the move will undermine voter turnout, especially among the aged and people living with disabilities, as well as limiting people’s inalienable rights of freedom of assembly and movement guaranteed by the 1991 Constitution.
According to him, the police ignored the fact that not all polling stations are within working distance from homes, both in urban and rural areas.
“Election Day should be like any other day and people should have the right to move freely without any restriction. We hope that the police will adhere to our resolution,” he said and added that the move cast grave suspicion on the credibility and integrity of the electoral process.
Dr. Bright said the parties also resolved that police officers that will be deployed on voting day or those on patrols should be visibly identified with name and number tags from 10-15 metre distance.
The ten parties warned that if the police refused to listen to their legitimate concerns, the matter would be taken to the Supreme Court for adjudication.