By Joseph Sesay(Josestar)
“I had the same issues as a presidential candidate in 2012 but I went to court after the elections. In 2007, the electoral commission, cancelled ballot boxes and announced the results when it did not have the mandate by law to do so”, President Bio.
President Bio asserted that there had always being election challenges but pride is taken in dealing with them using the 1991 constitution. “It is a consultative process and we wish to see the opposition participate fully”, he continued. The statement was made during the report delivery process of the Chief Observer of the European Union Missiom to Sierra Leone EU-EOM, Evin Incir.
Isata Sesay, a nurse, fumed at the president’s statement saying that, the government always cites past instances when issues go wrong, forgetting that they were brought in to rectify some of these anomalies. ‘I wonder where our nation is headed towards” She lamented.
Alpha Kamara, a Keke Rider stateted that, “with this kind of statement, there was no need to conduct elections, if those at the helm knew fully well that the outcome of the elections had already been fixed. God knows best, he ended.
The European Union-Elections Observer Mission to Sierra Leone led by Evin Incir released critical findings on the outcome of the 23rd June, 2023 multi-tier elections result in Freetown with attendant’s recommendations going forward.
In the report, the observer mission underscored the tabulation and announcement of the results as the tipping point for the credibility of the elections. “The entire process was opaque, meaningful information was impeded, and the declaration of winner was not followed by the publication of disaggregated results per polling station”, the report highlighted.
Moreover, the report alleged several inconsistencies and mathematical improbabilities including alterations in the number of average valid votes per polling station between the second and third batches of presidential result, varying from a decrease of 75 percent to an increase of 31 percent per district, a difference of up to 23 percentage points per district between the turn out for the presidential elections was pinpointed.
Likewise, a lack of transparency and the missed opportunities of the electoral commissioners to build stakeholders trust with most decisions and procedures neither published nor comprehensively explained to citizens was mentioned in the report. It was further captured that the voter registration process and the subsequent production and distribution of voter identification cards(VIDs) created uncertainties for stakeholders and voters alike.
Despite an inclusive voter registration process, voters right to know whom they would be voting was disregarded with the final candidates’ lists for parliamentary elections published in the gazette only four days before the pools. Local council lists were made public after the elections with parties not closing their list of candidates leading to further uncertainties, the report stated.
Besides, political violence in weeks before the pools disrupted the playing field in at least six districts the report mentioned. The EU EOM cross checked and confirmed reports on at least seventeen violent attacks, negatively affecting the campaign environment nationwide.” Most assaults of party supporters and attacks on party offices or private properties of politicians went unpunished, it shrank the space for political participation in the South and South-East”, the reported emphasized.
Additionally, the report mentioned demonstrative and disproportionate use of force by security agencies prior to, during and after elections day as one of the major factors that hindered political activism in addition to the abuse of political incumbency. Active government ministers were reportedly seen in rallies alongside extensive campaign messaging on official government websites.