The National Democratic Institute (NDI) for International Affairs yesterday trained political party and independent agents for the upcoming local council elections at the National Stadium Atlantic Hall in Freetown.
Making her statement NDI Country Director, Honorine Muyoyeta outlined the work that her organization did in the last Presidential and parliamentary elections and preparations they have made for the local council elections.
Giving a lecture on “Your Job as a party and Independent candidate agent”, Programme officer of NDI Mohamed Konneh said that as a party or independent agent you have certain rights and responsibilities.
He added that party and independent agents have the right to observe the polling and counting exercise on behalf of their party or candidates, “you have the right to raise concerns. If you have a question or think that there is a problem, remain calm and raise the issue with the presiding officer to solve it.”
The programme officer stated that if you raise concerns with the Presiding Officer, you have the right to have it recorded in his or her official journal and that agents can only vote at polling stations where they are registered.
Mr. Konneh said agents have the responsibility to be at their polling station – arrive by 6:00 am and stay until counting is completed, adding that if you do not stay at your polling station, only one will defend the interests of your party or candidate.
He stated that, agents should carry their ID card or badge issued by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) and make sure that it clearly refers to the section or area where their assigned polling station is located.
The NDI Programme Officer maintained that agents should not interfere with the polling and counting process in any way, noting that agents are there to monitor only. It is the job of the NEC officials to conduct the process he emphasized.
Agents should not intimidate or interfere with any voter he said and on election day “do not campaign on behalf of your party or candidate, do not display anything which indicates which party you belong to” the Programme Officer warned.
He cautioned them to remember that election officials are responsible for the election and to stay calm if problems arise.
He noted that nobody is perfect, and honest mistakes will happen, urging them to record and report problems according to the procedures.
Mr. Konneh admonished them not to make false accusations which can hurt their reputation and that of their candidate and party, adding “do not let partisan interests cloud your judgment.”