With the end of the recent local council elections, over 120 staff of the National Electoral Commission ‘NEC’ yesterday converged at the Hill Valley Hotel in Freetown, on a 5 day retreat to effectively evaluate their successes and challenges in the past elections with the hope of planning for the 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections .
At the official opening ceremony yesterday, Madam Christiana Thorpe the chairman of NEC recalled that her job is a very Herculean one, but with straight forward planning together with the entire staff, had extremely helped them in accomplishing their work successfully.
She said the five day retreat was to evaluate the whole electoral process in the just concluded local council elections, so as to identify and properly analyze their achievements and challenges in order to plan for the 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections.
She noted that the evaluation retreat is a marathon plan for 2012.
The retreat she said is participatory and interactive among all NEC staff to exchange ideas and experiences on the various electioneering processes that had taken place in the country in recent time, which she noted would go along way in identifying their lapses and achievements and to map out a strategic plan for the 2012 elections.
She confessed that the perception of the public about the NEC staff is not that all favorable, especially those who are on temporary employment, who may have fallen short of expectations adding that they need to look back and cleanse their image as they have a long way to go in ensuring a peaceful and credible elections in Sierra Leone.
Francesca Varlese the Project Manager for European Union in Sierra Leone in commending NEC for conducting a peaceful and credible elections in Sierra Leone maintained that, her organization has been working with a lot of development partners and supporting good governance institutions to consolidate peace and development throughout the country.
She pointed out that her organization’s support was not only limited to NEC and elections but to other institutions like political parties registration commission etc.
She expressed her organization’s willingness in supporting NEC to improve on the capacity of its staff in order to maintain credibility as she put it the “action plan of NEC would be meaningless without capable people who have the ability to execute the action plan.”
“The retreat is an opportunity to improve on the capacity of the staff and to strategise on an appropriate plan for the coming elections”
She stated that they are ready to assist in capacity building and other relevant areas from now onto the 2012 Presidential and parliamentary elections.
The European Union is on record to have supported a series of developmental programmes in Sierra Leone, especially in funding the construction of major road networks and elections with the provision of international observers to ensure free fair and credible elections.
UNDP project officer for elections management Marco Morend, said UN electoral assistance is provided only at the request of a member state or on the basis of a resolution of the UN Security Council or the General Assembly.
He said since 1992, the United Nations has received 406 requests from 107 member states, adding that during the last years UN has provided assistance to NEC to conduct 3 elections in Sierra Leone. The deputy minister of Local Government and Community Development Raymond Kabia, showered a lot of praises on the staff and leadership of NEC for conducting credible elections. He pledged Government’s support towards maintaining the independence of NEC in conducting free, fair and credible elections, adding that his Government would give every support in that direction.
By Solomon Rogers