The ECOWAS election observers’ mission in Sierra Leone has suggested that the 55% threshold for the election of presidents in Sierra Leone is too high.
The head of the ECOWAS mission, Seth K Obengwho reading from the preliminary declaration of their report on the presidential run-off election recommends that, “in the interest of peace consolidation and reducing the high costs of electoral administration, the in-coming parliament is encouraged to re-visit the constitutional provisions and the Electoral Act regarding the 55% threshold for the election of presidents with a view to reviewing them.”
He explains that the number of political parties should definitely be considered because subsequent elections will always go into run-off because no single party will poll 55% given the number of political parties that will be contesting the election.
He points out that for a country emerging from war electoral administration is a costly venture so the electoral Acts should be adjusted in a way that will rule out more expenses in run-off elections.
The ECOWAS head of mission however maintains that that issue is a constitutional matter for the government and people of Sierra Leone to decide on but that they are looking for harmonization of practices and standards in all ECOWAS countries.
The ECOWAS’ mission also recommends that all political parties are encouraged to implement measures to transform themselves into truly national parties in the interest of national reconciliation and that the stakeholders in the Sierra Leonean polity should redouble their efforts to ensure that the process of national reconciliation is put back on track.
The observers’ mission points out that they detected that at a few polling stations, acts of intimidation, disruption and attempted electoral fraud were carried out by suspected party thugs, noting that these included intimidation and disruption in some areas of Freetown such as Kissy and Pademba Road; harassment of polling officials in Semgbe-Mongo and Warawara-Yagala Constituencies; marauding truck-loads of suspected party thugs causing mayhem at polling centres in Kabala (Koinadugu District).
They reveal also that in Massam Kpaka in the Pujehun District, a soldier in possession of four voter ID cards attempted to vote twice but was apprehended by the police and that in Kpaku in the same district, an activist of one of contesting parties also attempted to disrupt voting.
“There are credible reports that APC agents were prevented from observing the electoral process in several areas of constituencies 88, 89 and 90 including Kassi – Centre code No. 12054, Semabu – Centre code 12067, Bumpeh Perri – Centre code 12070, Blama Massaquoi – Centre code 12077, Saarhun – Centre code 12109,” says the ECOWAS head of mission.
Seth K Obengwho reveals further that their observers caught one ballot issuer named Isata Kaikai at Court Barray Pujehun – Centre code 12014 issuing double ballot papers to voters but that the police was reported to be investigating.