March 12, 2019
The National Electoral Commission (NEC) has admitted in their press release issued yesterday that there were contentious issues during polling, counting and tallying process of the just concluded Tonko Limba by-election, that was contested by the ruling Serra Leone People’s Party (SLPP),the main opposition All Peoples Congress(APC) and the National Grand Coalition(NGC).
While the APC and the National Elections Watch (NEW) had raised serious concern with regards the conduct of the said election, alleging ballot stuffing,NEC’s Returning Officer and Chairman,N’fa Alie Conteh,on Sunday,10th March announced Mustapha Kamara of the ruling SLPP as the winner of the said election in Ward 196,Constituency 058.
NEW noted in a press release that they observed serious irregularities during the process, which they said undermined the integrity of the entire election and called on NEC to provide answers regarding the issues raised.
In their press release, however, NEC stated that they accepted the request of the two opposition political parties: APC and the NGC, for recounts of some of the polling stations they had issues with.
“Thus a total of four (4) polling stations were recounted at the Tally Center at the District Office producing the same results as was recorded in the results reconciliation form (RRF).In addition, five (5) polling stations (three of which had been initially recounted) were recounted due to rejections of the Results Management System,” they stated.
The commission further admitted that though there were issues relating to ballot reconciliation, but such did not alter the final counts and will of the people in Ward 196.
On the issue of the ballot papers, the Commission noted that it printed ballot papers with security features with 2019 clearly marked on them for the re-run by elections.
“However, ballot papers of the 29th September 2018 cancelled bye election were found in some ballot boxes in some polling stations in Polling Centre 08056, Kabokoh and Polling Centre 08057, Mile 14; but all such 2018 ballots were neither reconciled nor counted as valid ballots. The Commission immediately took actions by withdrawing all 2018 ballots in use and handed over five suspects (four polling staff and one voter) to the police for investigation.”
They called on all stakeholders including political parties, civil society and any other citizen of their fundamental right to seek redress in competent court of jurisdiction if aggrieved with the electoral process.