November 29, 2016 By Emmanuel Okyne (Intern)
The National Election Watch (NEW) has in a press conference held yesterday at their Sawi Drive office called on the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to release a specific date for the 2018 general elections.
The chairperson for NEW, Marcella Samba – Sesay, said they were closely monitoring preparatory activities for the 2018 presidential, parliamentary and the postponed local government elections and called on NEC to declare by proclamation, the specific date the elections would be conducted in February, 2018.
Madam Sesay said the call underscored the fact that the date for the elections has an implication on intending aspirants holding public offices, noting that for anyone to contest election as Member of Parliament, he or she must resign 12 months before election day.
“NEW is concerned that the undue delay in stating the actual election date does not create a level playing field in the electoral arena. We are concerned that the electoral calendar is under potential threat of not being respected due to government’s current engagement with re- districting,” she said.
She said the action would mean re-doing the exercise and that the cost implication would be huge as the country was currently grappling with austerity measures.
She however commended NEC for the ‘transparent’ manner in which they had conducted activities including the boundaries delimitation exercise for which, monitoring committees were set up at national and at district levels, with a composition from election management bodies.
Madam Sesay further urged the appointment of a substantive chairman of the Political Party Registration Commission (PPRC), adding that the PPRC as an institution was responsible for registering and regulating the conduct of political parties and their supporters.
She urged NEC to immediately embark on a rigorous civic education campaign for citizens to access correct information on voter registration exercise.
She pointed out that they had noted with concern the continuous shift of registration date, moving it from October to December, 2016 and then to February, 2017.
She observed that such was an indication of unpreparedness and called on government to honour their commitment and fund the process in order to ensure that the voter registration was done in time.