March 13 ,2017 By Joseph S. Margai
Executive Director of Democracy Sierra Leone (DSL), Alhaji Mohamed Warisay, has called on the National Electoral Commission (NEC) and National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA) to increase the current registration centres from three thousand, three hundred (3,300) to five thousand (5,000).
He made the above statement at a presser last Friday at his office on Percival Street in Freetown.
It could be recalled that the National Electoral Commission (NEC) recently announced that a total of 3,300 Civil and Voters Registration Centres would be used to register eligible Sierra Leoneans for the forthcoming presidential, parliamentary and local councils elections slated for March 7, 2018. The exercise would run from March 20 to April 16, 2017, across the country, and that only those who took part in the process during the four weeks allocated by the commission would be eligible to vote.
Mr. Warisay emphasised that the 3,300 Civil and Voters Registration Centres announced by NEC should be increased to 5,000 if NEC and NCRA wanted to do a successful nationwide registration.
He also dilated on the 28 days period for the registration, which, he said would not be enough to carry out the exercise.
“Therefore, we are calling on NEC and NCRA to consider increasing the timeframe. As we continue to groom our democracy to make it enviable within and outside the African region, Sierra Leoneans are faced with several issues that are crucial to achieving another milestone in our political history. Key decisions to make are the referendum before or after the election and the Civil and Voter Registration. These two decisions will ultimately take us to the general elections next year,” he said.
He said since 2002, they have yearned and advocated for the review of the 1991 Constitution to bring it up to speed with contemporary governance and to strengthen the country’s democratic credentials.
He added that the argument from all stakeholders was for the reviewed Constitution to benefit the new dispensation that would be ushered in through the 2018 general elections.
“It is important for Sierra Leoneans to know that the choice for the referendum before elections or the reverse appears to be inconsistent with that broad objective and general position advocated for over this period. As a people centered organisation, we believe we can’t wait any longer than this year, 2017,” he said.
Administrative and Finance Officer of DSL, Tamba Koroma, said because of the registration process would be critical to the outcome of the referendum and elections, he called on all Sierra Leoneans to go out in their numbers on the 20th March to register, adding that they also wanted to inform NEC and other stakeholders that sensitisation of the masses on the Civil and Voter Registration would be equally important.
“We also urge political parties to call on their supporters to come out and register now because this is the only opportunity that they have got. This is the time that political parties can win or lose elections,” he said.