Local Election Watchdog in Sierra Leone Concerned Over Confirmed Claims About Missing Voter Registration Lists
Concern has been raised by a local election watchdog in Sierra Leone over confirmed claims about missing voter registration lists in two of the country’s 14 districts.
A statement released by the National Election Watch (NEW) on Sunday called on the authorities responsible for the conduct of the multi-tier elections which took place on Saturday to investigate and establish the details about the final voter registration lists for the districts of Bombali and Koinadugu.
NEW’s statement comes hours after the National Electoral Commission (NEC) confirmed in a broadcast on Saturday that the voter lists in these two districts have been missing.
“NEW does not believe the measure employed by NEC officials in Ward 43 Diang Chiefdom Koinadugu, whereby a new voter registration list was generated on-the-spot using the ID cards of voters who came to the polling station complies with electoral regulations, even though the process was undertaken in the presence of political party officials” the group said.
The electoral watchdog called on the NEC to also investigate the case of missing voter registration lists in Bombali district and clarify what measures were taken to make up for their absence.
NEW said although voting in Sierra Leone’s 14 districts for presidential, parliamentary, and local government elections had passed off peacefully, there have been a few incidents of significant concern in 26 polling stations which include inadequate embossment of voters’ cards, vote denial for ID card holders and in other cases voting access to others not registered at given polling booths.
The watchdog also referred to 43 cases in which poll officials did not explain procedures to voters and other incidents they did not respect procedures for people with disabilities, pregnant women, lactating mothers, and the elderly.
However, NEW whose officials are distributed around the country to join international poll observers monitor the elections said 97.7 percent of their watchers had indicated that voter confirmation procedures had been properly followed.
“With regards to campaigning, NEW observers reported no pronounced campaigning in or around polling stations. Out of 1132 polling stations reporting, the overwhelming majority of cases (96 percent) signaled that there was no campaigning within 100 meters of polling stations, as required by the regulations” it said.
At least 2.6 million registered voters out of a population of about 6 million were expected to take part in the polls which is seen as a test of how far Sierra Leone has emerged from one of Africa’s bloodiest civil wars in which over 50, 000 people were killed and the limbs of over 150, 000 chopped off.
In the presidential election, the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) incumbent President Ernest Bai Koroma is being challenged by the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) hopeful Julius Maada Bio with the winner expected to score 55 percent to avoid a run-off.
Source African Press Agency
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