As the people of Sierra Leone brace up to exercise their voting rights in the local council elections tomorrow, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) has officially declared 41 APC contestants for the position of councilor in Kono, Bombali, Port Loko, Kambia, Western Rural and Freetown City Council and one contestant for Bombali Council Chairman duly elected.
Before she made the declaration early this week, the Chairman and Chief Electoral Commissioner Madam Christiana Thorpe was reported to have said that, many of the withdrawals were undertaken freely, reflecting personal circumstances, but noted that allegations of intimidation have been noted, as earlier mentioned in her press statement of Monday 23rd June, 2008.
“The withdrawal of nominated candidates is of concern to the commission, as it impinges the democratic process as well as logistical preparations, especially where such withdrawal result in one remaining candidate, leaving the seat uncontested” she said.
14 of the total of 39 uncontested seats are due to withdrawals of candidates in those wards, adding that “the freedom to select representation is a fundamental right of every citizen in the democratic process and the absence of choice removes that right” she stated.
When asked as to whether those electorate in the 38 uncontested wards would be qualified to vote for any other candidates within the same locality, the Public Relations Officer of NEC Madam Miatta French said no.
She however explained that, electorate in the uncontested wards for Councilor were only eligible to vote for the Mayoral or Chairmanship positions and not for Councillors’ position.
“There will be no election for the Chairmanship of Bombali District Council as the candidate has already gone unopposed and therefore no electorate will be allowed to vote for that position” she maintained.
On the question of those electorate who deliberately refused to register in Kortuma Jawei in Kailahun district because of the invalidation of their votes in the 2007 Presidential and Parliamentary elections, Madam French says, its optional for them to either vote with the old ID cards or not to vote at all. According to an authentic report from NEC, there are an estimated eligible voting population of 2,761,423 in 374 single member wards, where one councillor is elected for each ward and 20 wards where 82 councillors would be elected in 5,901 polling stations with 600 voters per each polling station.
The number of uncontested wards for councillorship include: 3 wards in Kono, 10 in Bombali, 3 in Kambia, 8 in Tonkolili, 2 in Western Rural and 1 in the Freetown city council with 1 uncontested chairmanship in Bombali all representing the APC party By Solomon Rogers