By Jariatu S Bangura
The Multi-Stakeholders Election Steering Committee has concluded its 9th meeting geared towards the preparedness of electoral bodies for the June 24th general elections.
According to the Chairman of the Committee, Jacob Jusu Saffa, the meeting was one they held to discuss electoral issues including electoral financing, voter education and voter registration.
He said they wanted to make sure the electoral process is smooth since it will be run by the state.
He said they have been working with partners to mobilize resources even though the government is fully supporting the process, adding that the meeting was initially meant to raise funds but they later realised to expand it to discussing other issues.
He commended the efforts made by the Ministry of Finance for providing funds to the electoral bodies.
He assured that the government was committed to supporting electoral process and other institutions to have free and fair elections.
Minister of Finance, Sheku Fantamadi Bangura said his ministry did promise to provide funds to the Electoral Commission Sierra Leone (ECSL) and other elections management bodies in a timely and predictable manner between now and the 24th June,2023.
He said as at 29th May, the government had transferred a cumulative amount of NLe340million into the election basket fund maintained at the Bank of Sierra Leone.
He said the aforementioned amount was an addition to the NLe 366.5million that was disbursed to the ECSL and other electoral bodies in 2022.
He also stated that they have transferred NLe171million to the ECSL to meet the cost of distributing the voter ID cards, procurement of polling materials and logistics, training and salary of polling staff, logistics for elections result management, among others.
Chairman of Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone, Mohamed K. Konneh, told the gathering that the theme for the June 24 elections is ‘Saful elections ‘ which means that they want to make sure that peace be maintained before, during and after the elections.
He said so far meetings have been held with political parties especially the main opposition All People’s Congress (APC) party, which had issues that have already been addressed.
He also informed the members of the committee that out of the 13 Presidential candidates, there is only one female representative among them and among all the elective positions; there is only 33% female candidates.
He stated that they have published the voter register although what is expected was not published as it has not been the usual norm to publish information of voters.
Mr. Konneh also added that contract has been awarded to a South African company for the printing of the ballot papers which be brought into the country before the elections date.
He disclosed that on the 2nd June, an amount of NLe 82.5million would be transferred to the ECSL as instructions have already been done to do the payment.
According to the Chairman of the Political Parties Regulation Commission (PPRC), Abdulai M. Bangura, campaign processes have kicked off and so far it has been relatively peaceful.
He said they have held several meetings and that they are still holding meetings with political parties and other electoral bodies in making sure that there be peaceful elections process.
The Committee, however, concluded on the noted that the ECSL endeavours to reply with immediate effect whatever written complaints are made to avoid any form of casualties in the coming elections and also make sure that engagement be done with all political parties on whatever development they make as institution.