By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
The Chairman and Chief Electoral Commissioner of Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone, Mohamed Kenewui Konneh, has assured that the June 24 general elections will go on as planned. He stated that all preparedness were ongoing to ensure that a credible and peaceful elections are conducted.
He made the assurance on Friday, February 17 at the New Brookfield’s Hotel while providing update on the Commission’s preparedness at the 6th Multi-Stakeholders Election Steering Committee Meeting comprising the Diplomatic Community, government stakeholders, civil society organizations, security sector and other stakeholders.
“We are sure we are on course and we are determined for the conduct of the 24th June 2023 elections. By a way of update to confirm our assurance in terms of preparation, we have distributed updates on the elections,” he said.
He said ECSL has submitted 607 suspected underage registrants to the Sierra Leone Police for investigation, and that contracts have been awarded for the printing of Voter Registration Cards and discussions were ongoing between the vendor and Data Management team.
He further stated that distribution of voter ID cards was slated for 17th- 26th March 2023 and disclosed that procurement of printers and consumables for the printing of the Final Voter register is in progress.
He said sensitization on PR electoral system and update on election preparedness has commenced with several Radio, TV and face-to-face engagements across the country.
He disclosed that the Commission has adopted a policy to have a media hub during election period for hosting meetings, press conferences, situation room and other activities.
He said they were currently in discussion with the management of Freetown International Conference Centre (Entire facility) at Bintumani Hotel as a possible venue for the media hub and development of the election result tally systems at district, regional and national level is in progress.
He also updated that ECOWAS has provided US$ 500,000 as electoral support to the ECSL for the 20 elections.
In his update, Finance Minister Sheku Ahmed Fantamadi Bangura, said the Committee has agreed to prepare a comprehensive all-encompassing budget incorporating both Government and Partners resources identified so far and match against the budget of ECSL and other Elections Management Bodies to establish whether there is a financing gap and how the gap is to be closed.
He said they were optimistic that with the already identified partner and Government resources, the budget will be fully funded.
He said that the Committee has now received all development partners funding commitments through UNDP estimated at about US$10.9 million and there is expected commitment also from Canada.
He said a detailed Activity Plan will be developed and matched against available funding to guide monthly as well as weekly disbursement schedule to ECSL and EMBs and the ESCL will also be receiving some in-kind support mainly ballot boxes and indelible from other Partners.
“In terms of Financing for the Elections from the Government side, I am pleased to report that the first quarter 2023 allocations relating to funding for the Elections have been released to ECSL and all the other Elections Management Bodies (EMBs). The various institutions are in the process of accessing these funds from now to end of March,” he said.
In his welcome statement, the Chairman of the Multi-Stakeholders Election Steering Committee who as doubles as the Chief Minister Jacob Jusu Saffa, said such Multi-Stakeholders meeting is important for the electioneering process because it helps to discuss critical issues around elections in the country.
The Co-Chairman of the Committee, who also doubles as the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Sierra Leone, Pa Lamin Beyai, said such meeting help to build co-existence in the electioneering processes by promoting transparency and accountability.