July 24, 2018
By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
The National Election Watch (NEW) has in their 2018 Elections Observation Report revealed how the Sierra Leone Police force (SLP) compromised their impartiality and professionalism in a many instances during the electioneering period.
Reading a press statement last Saturday during the launch of the report at Hotel Cabenda in Freetown, NEW Chairperson Marcella Samba-Sesay said they observed the entire 2018 electoral cycle from the Boundary Delimitation (BD) onto the immediate post- elections environment.
“NEW equally recognises the important and coordinated role of the security forces through the Office of National Security (ONS) but notes that the security strategy lacks the required funding support and the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) compromised their impartiality and professionalism in a number of instances,” she said.
She said that the political will for the conduct of the 2018 elections was questionable as slogans depicting deferment of the process came out vividly at the start of the electoral cycle, but public response negating the move did not allow such slogans to survive.
She noted that the election date was only announced when civil society mounted pressure, calling on NEC and the government to announce it.
She observed that delayed funding to NEC to carry out planning and preparation activities for the election resulted in NEC being indebted to vendors, ad hoc staff and even delayed payment of staff salaries and allowances.
Mrs. Samba-Sesay recalled that about 72 hours to the Presidential Run-off elections, the judiciary slammed an injunction on activities of the National Electoral Commission (NEC).
On behalf of NEW, she expressed her unreserved thanks and appreciation to NEC, especially Chief Electoral Officer Mohamed N’fah Allie Conteh, for remaining focused amidst calculated attempts to disrupt the process as a way of denying Sierra Leoneans the opportunity to decide and cast their votes in a free, fair and credible election.
She commended the people of Sierra Leone for their determination and resolve for the elections to be conducted on schedule, as provided for by law.
The NEW chairperson recognised the mediation role of the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC), stating that they were looking forward to an empowered commission with the appropriate legal framework and support.
She applauded interventions from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), leadership of International observer missions, support from the donor community and the leadership and staff of several civil society organisations who volunteered to observe the entire electoral process even in difficult circumstances.
She said their observation of the Boundary Delimitation, National Civil and Voter Registration, Adjudication, Exhibition, noting Objections, Omissions, Inquiry and Inclusion, Nomination of Candidates and the Campaign period was designed to give NEW ability to form an independent opinion on the entire process.
NEW is a coalition of over 400 civil society organisations, including both local and international, based in Sierra Leone with a common objective of supporting free, fair and peaceful elections.