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Women’s Situation Room picks holes in March 7 polls

March 13, 2018 By Elizabeth A. Kaine

Dr. Yvette Chesson-Wureh initiator of the WSR addressing the press

The Women’s Situation Room (WRS) in Sierra Leone last Friday (9th March) carefully highlighted issues that unfolded in last week’s multitier elections.

WSR is a peacebuilding mechanism that was established to prevent and mitigate conflict before, during and after elections in African countries.

Dr. Yvette Chesson-Wureh, initiator of the WSR, said at a presser organised at the Atlantic Hotel that reports they received from their observers, peace monitors, and members of the public via their toll free line-977 revealed some deficiencies on polling day.

She told reporters that majority of calls they received indicated that “elections procedures, materials and logistics such as voters were not allowed to vote because their names were not found on the Final Voter Register even though they  had their final Voter ID Cards,” adding that in some polling centres polling materials didn’t arrive in time.

She noted that some voters were reportedly not allowed to vote because their names were not found on the final voter Register, though they had their voter ID Cards.

Dr. Yvette Chesson-Wureh said voters with special needs, including the aged, pregnant women and nursing mothers did not receive adequate attention while there were incidents of political campaigning while voting was still ongoing.

She said the Women Situation Room also took note of the standoff between the security forces and the presidential candidate of the SLPP at the latter’s Goderich office “created chaos and tension around the election.”

“WSR also notes with dismay the postponement of the mayoral and councilors elections in seven polling centers in Bonthe and Pujehun districts respectively,” she said.

Meanwhile, the WSR also observed that a number of polling centres located in schools structures lack facilities such as proper water and sanitation.

Dr. Chesson-Wureh’s WSR commended the people of Sierra Leone for turning out in their numbers to vote, adding that the environment was largely peaceful and orderly throughout the country.

She also commended the National Electoral Commission (NEC), the Sierra Leone Police and political party leaders and supporters for being peaceful throughout the conduct of the polls.

“The WSR will remain open till the 13th of March and encourages the general public to continue calling the WSR-SL Toll Free number -977 and report any situation of concern threatening peace,” she said.

She called on security actors to continue to remain active and to maintain the successes achieved so far in the electoral process.

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