In a meeting held at YWCA old hall Brookfields Wednesday between the National Electoral Commission (NEC) and Inter-Religious Stakeholders, The Chief Electoral Commissioner Dr. Christiana Thorpe publicly declared a date for the Local Council Bye Election in ward 384, Freetown City Council.
Dr. Thorpe said this bye election is conducted because of the death of councilor John Tamba Sesay, which sad event occurred on Thursday 23rd April, 2009, and the said seat became vacant instantly.
She said in accordance with section 10(1) of the Local Government Act of 2004 that a vacant seat in local council be filled by a Bye Election conducted by the National Electoral Commission within ninety days. According to her, the commission wishes to declare Saturday 11 July, 2009 as polling day for this said election from 7:00 am to 5: pm.
The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of NEC Miatta French disclosed to Awoko that it is going to cost them about Le 60 million because of certain things they have to do before and after the Bye Election.
In the meeting, Dr. Thorpe said NEC has the responsibility to conduct an election and to sensitize the citizens but they cannot be able to do all of these. We (NEC) need elders to preach to their people in different places of worship as to how election can be free and fair “which I believe are you the religious leaders” she said.
She added that as 2012 is coming, they (NEC officers) need the special interest from the religious leaders to help them sensitize people so that the election will be violence free and free from other malpractices.
In a panel discussion, the PRO Miatta asked participant to tell them (NEC) their lapses during the past election and what the problems among people were such that for any small election there must be acts of violence.
In response Chief Imam, Alhaji Usman Mansaray said the worst part of the election is during the registration period. He advised NEC that for the benefit of a violence free election, they should appoint responsible people to take care of the registration aspect and also train them on how to approach the public.
Imam Mansaray was supported by all the participants including Marilyn Palmer representing Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) who said some of the NEC polling staff are not capable of properly briefing the electorate.