The Sierra Leone Action Network on Small Arms (SLANSA), after observing the September 8 presidential runoff, has described it as transparent and largely incident-free.
SLANSA and partners from the West African sub-region have been encouraged by the well informed manner in which the polling process was conducted in all the polling centres its team visited and wish to commend the National Electoral Commission (NEC) for the professionalism their staff exhibited, especially on polling day.
“The commissioners and staff deserve special praise for the efficiency with which they conducted the run-off; being methodological but proficient in carrying out their duty,” SLANSA pointed out.
The anti-gun campaigners said the run-off election was transparent and largely incident-free; polling staff showed a remarkable improvement in handling the electorate, which in turn translated to smooth and unhindered voting.
SLANSA deployed 35 local and international election non-violence activists and election observers across Sierra Leone with a strong message of “Ballot Not Bullets” during the run-off election.
“Party agents were present in all the polling centres we visited and they showed tolerance and respect towards their counterparts and staff of National Electoral Commission,” they maintained.
The SLANSA reports noted that the presence of the joint police-military teams at polling centres helped restore confidence in the electorate, some of whom had hitherto been genuinely apprehensive about security on Election Day. The professionalism demonstrated by the military and police was commendable and no doubt bodes well for civil-military and police relations post-elections.
The report also made observations about the press, stating that they noted with dismay that the contents of party radio broadcasts before and on the day of election were largely aimed at spreading messages of hate and incitement against rival party members and supporters.
SLANSA highlighted the broadcasts of unconfirmed rumours of vote rigging in some parts of the country by both the SLPP and APC radio stations also helped to stoke-up tension on polling day.
SLANSA concluded that such broadcasts of unfounded allegations of rigging and attacks against their supporters might have motivated party activists to storm various polling centres in Freetown and other provincial towns.
“In addition, some members of the local media hardly dignified themselves by openly siding with one of the two parties that contested the run-off and in effect, showed blatant bias towards the other,” said the report.