demands Code of Conduct for Police Officers on polling day
January 15, 2018 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
Presidential Candidate of the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) has called for the preparation of a code of conduct for police officers ahead of the March 7 elections.
In a letter dated 10th January, 2018 which he addressed to Chairman of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio urged that all officers that will be on duty on Election Day be trained on election security and neutrality.
There have been several concerns from civil society organisations and some sections of the public with regards the way and manner in which some police officers respond to elections related issues on polling day.
Bio stated in his letter that, over the last twelve months the SLPP has repeatedly raised concern about the role of the police on polling day to the commission.
“The party, through its representatives at the Political Party Liaison Committee (PPLC) meeting, has urged the Commission to discuss this very important electoral issue. Since the Commission has not done so, we have deemed it fit to put our position in writing,” he said.
He said the police would play a critical role in determining the credibility and outcome of the March 7 elections, and that his party considered their role on polling day as the most significant threat to a free, fair and transparent election and by extension threat to national security.
He recalled that in 2007 and 2012, as well as ensuing bye-elections, the SLPP observed that certain thugs of the APC impersonated police officers on polling day while some police officers intimidated their party agents and even forcefully removed them from polling stations on trumped up grounds of disrupting the work of the electoral staff.
In a bid to avoid the re-occurrence of such ugly situations, the SLPP presidential candidate demanded that police officers deployed on poling day or those patrolling the streets should be visibly identified by their name and number tags from 10-15 metre distance, as well as their names and telephone numbers deployed in all polling centres or stations before the day of voting.
“To avoid situation where a police officer votes more than once, the police and all security personnel are allowed to vote before March 7 separately in the full view of party agents. Alternatively, police officers vote only where they are deployed and special polling stations be established for police officers on patrol,” he further demanded.