Campaign for Good Governance (CGG) has stated that one of the most striking phenomena in the elections was the low rate of voter turnout.
Briefing Journalists on the just concluded local council elections at CGG training center in Tengbeh Town yesterday, the Assistant Programme Officer Ella Macfoy said that “it is widely believed that the current economic hardship coupled with the latent political tensions and violence in the country in prelude to the elections accounted for the clearly expressed voter apathy”.
She added that, the elections day procedures were relatively orderly and transparent; adding that, though the issue of violence featured prominently during the campaign period, on polling day the security situation was satisfactory which could be attributed mainly to the vigilance of the police and civil society.
Ella Macfoy, disclosed that, the show of top public officials shuttling from one polling station to another during elections day in the guise of observing the process generated apprehension in the civil populace.
“This in our own view is tantamount to intimidation, which is unacceptable”, adding that, “we are convinced that such an act only seeks to undermine openness, freedom and orderliness which are the bedrock of a thriving democracy.
The Assistant Programme officer maintained that public officials should have been seen and should always be seen as role models in promoting and upholding the true tenets of democratic values in the body politic of our nation.
Ms Macfoy pointed out that they “observed very keenly that the political parties and candidates that contested the elections were not enthusiastic in terms of generating the interests of the electorates to actively participate in the process; let alone to take responsibility for their low knowledge on the decentralization process.”
She urged political parties to take it as a priority to be sensitizing and educating citizens on electoral and decentralization issues before and even after elections. On their observations CGG Assistant Programme Officer revealed that, official figures from the National Electoral Commission (NEC) show that a total of 226 women contested in the elections. Citing that districts like Koinadugu, which hitherto had no woman candidate during the last 2004 local council elections, recorded a relatively impressive total of 14 candidates in the just concluded elections.
She further went on to say that the security apparatus put in place for the elections was very good and that police and military personnel presence was at every polling center.
Ms Macfoy however stated that there were reports of interference on the political process by political parties, adding that offers of large sums of money were made to independent candidates to step down and in the case where offers were refused parties resorted to intimidation and harassment of both candidates and their supporters.
She acknowledged that to a very large extent the PPRC through its District Monitoring Committees, succeeded in keeping the peace and in preventing fracas occurring between and amongst political parties.
CGG recommended that PPRC should be more neutral and proactive in the extension of its functions during elections.
They also noted that political parties should show tolerance before, during and after elections and that donors should provide funds to civil society groups much earlier to facilitate their structured and sustained engagement on the electoral process.
By Abibatu Kamara