Concord Times Election Observation Account


Voting in eastern Freetown started peacefully  

April 3, 2018 By Ibrahim Tarawallie

Voters queued to cast their vote in the run-off election

Voting in the east of Freetown was relatively peaceful with no major incident in the areas where Concord Times covered. Eligible voters were able to cast their ballot for the candidate of their choice without any hindrance.

The voter turnout at the start of polling was not encouraging compared to the first round of elections on March 7 when some voters woke up around 4a.m. to cast their ballot.

At the Sierra Leone International Mission School (SLIMS) Old Wharf, where there were ten polling stations, voting started at around 8a.m. instead of 7a.m.

Ballot papers were brought to the polling centre by NEC staff at around 7:30a.m. with military and police escort to prevent any suspicion of irregularities and malpractice by over suspicious voters.

The delay was an unwelcome news to voters. One voter said: “I am not happy with the preparation to start the voting. We were supposed to start casting our vote at 7a.m. and it is after 7a.m. and we are yet to start. This is unacceptable, to say the least.”

When voting eventually started, there were lesser number of people in queues waiting patiently to cast their votes but the process was very slow in some of the polling stations.

Also, some people raised concern about the presence of armed security personnel in some of the polling stations. Those who spoke to Concord Times said they were surprised to see military presence at the centres when the country was not at war.

In a statement before the close of poll, the National Election Watch (NEW) said their observers reported the presence of armed security officers in polling stations in many centres across the country.

They stated that in Pujehun, military personnel stopped some voters from voting, claiming that they had already voted but when the journal was checked by the Polling Centre Manager in the presence of observers and party agents, it was proven that they had in fact not voted.

Adama Kamara said: “This is uncalled for. We should not have soldiers in polling stations. I was so scared when I saw them pointing their weapons at us.”

She attributed the low voter turnout at the Sierra Leone International Mission School polling centre to the presence of armed military officers as well as the postponement of the presidential run-off election from March 27 to March 31.

At Fullah Mosque in Calaba Town, voters in queues waiting to exercise their franchise were less than on March 7. From our observation, the process went on smoothly and at a faster pace than in other centres we visited in the east of Freetown.

From what we observed closely at polling centres we visited in Calaba Town, Wellington, Fourah Bay and Kissy communities, agents from the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) and the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP)were very much vigilant. They were asking relevant questions while relationship amongst them was very cordial.