The upcoming elections in Sierra Leone carry immense significance for the nation’s democratic progress and stability. However, apprehensions have been raised by amongst others Dr Samura Kamara, the Presidential Candidate of the All Peoples Congress (APC), and National Elections Watch (NEW), regarding the impartiality, transparency, and integrity of the Electoral Commission Sierra Leone (ECSL). It is imperative that the ECSL promptly engages with Dr Kamara and other political actors to address these concerns, ensuring a free, fair, and credible electoral process on June 24.
During a recent press conference, Dr Samura Kamara shed light on ‘troubling’ trends that he say have impeded democratic processes in Sierra Leone. He highlighted issues such as a militarized approach to governance, ethno-regional politics, and the imposition of the ruling party’s agenda on the people. He said illegitimate appointments dismissals of key officials, and undue influence have further eroded public trust in the current administration.
Dr Samura Kamara emphasized that despite facing provocation and accusations, the APC has consistently prioritized peace and restraint. They have reiterated their commitment to upholding peace, security, and stability in the country, calling upon all political stakeholders, including the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), to prioritize peace over provocations and oppression.
To restore trust in the electoral process and ensure transparency and fairness, Dr Kamara presented several demands to the ECSL. These demands include advocating for transparent manual tallying of results at the polling center/station level, granting access to the ECSL’s data management structure and proposed tallying system, and ensuring manual transmission of results with full participation of political parties at all levels. Additionally, the APC calls for the release of a comprehensive voter register, an independent forensic audit of the voter register, technical support from international partners, and the presence of accredited party agents and observers.
Furthermore, the concerns raised by National Elections Watch regarding early voting and the transparency surrounding the procurement and printing of ballot papers highlight the urgency for the ECSL to address these issues. With ballot papers printed in two different countries, transparency, custody, and accountability become vital concerns that need to be addressed to maintain the integrity of the electoral process.
Transparency, fairness, and the integrity of the electoral process are paramount to upholding democracy and preserving the hard-earned peace and stability in Sierra Leone. By actively engaging with Dr Samura Kamara, National Elections Watch, and other political actors expressing concerns, the ECSL can demonstrate its unwavering commitment to transparency, inclusivity, and the preservation of democratic principles. The ECSL must demonstrate its commitment to transparency, inclusivity, and upholding democratic principles, ensuring that the electoral process is conducted in a free, fair, and credible manner.This may make a big difference in the post-election stage.