The National Election Watch (NEW), a coalition of Civic and Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs), has strongly condemned intimidation by government officers, party members and citizens on National Electoral Commissioner (NEC) officials in the just concluded voters’ registration exercise.
A communiqué issued by NEW states that such “…behaviour should be rendered unacceptable to all Sierra Leoneans.”
The statement heightens that, “the institutions responsible for ensuring a free and fair election such as the police, the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) and NEC should ensure that pending cases lodged with the police are dealt with in a speedy, fair and transparent manner.
The statement continues that, “commissioners should be highly visible in the region protecting the interest of the electoral process, their staff and the interest of NEC”.
The clustering of voter registration centres, according to the statements “was not very strategic and in many cases eliminated eligible voters.”
The distances were a major disincentive for many eligible citizens particularly the elderly, physically challenged, women and the sick who were disenfranchised, the statement heightens.
According to the coalition, voters’ education was considered to be available, but however thought that other issues related to the boundary delimitation exercise and the constituency based configurations got based configurations got in the way of an effective voters’ education process.
Despite all the condemnations, NEW commends political parties for the level of mobilization for the voters’ registration process, noting, “Political parties should seek training for their agents.”
“The political leaders are still silent on the intimidation and interference around the electoral process not lending their credence to support a peaceful and respectable process determining who leads Sierra Leone in the future. They too must adhere to the rule of law and ensure commitment of their parties to the PPRC code of conduct,” the report states.