Sierra Leone’s electoral commission responds to rumors and voter fraud allegations

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This statue of a man and woman voting next to a map of Sierra Leone is at the new NEC building in Tower Hill – Photo: Vickie Remoe

By Alpha B Kamara in Freetown

The chairperson of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), Dr. Christiana Thorpe, says the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) and the Peoples Movement Democratic Change (PMDC) should bring forth any evidence of malpractice by NEC officials.

The NEC Chairperson made this comment yesterday while addressing the public at the NEC Headquarters at Tower Hill, to a national broadcast of Sierra Leoneans who are eager to hear the election results.

“The Commission received concerns from both the Peoples Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) and the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) on the conduct of elections and performance of NEC staff and the armed forces on polling day.”

In Bombali, Dr. Thorpe says NEC is aware that voter register for one centre was lost only to be later found in another centre within the same ward.

She said in Koinadugu, the election procedure allowed for a temporary register in the absence of the original one on polling day so long as voters had their ID .

“This was what occurred in Koinadugu and in any other area where it was found necessary to do so,” she says.

Dr. Thorpe announced that 99 percent of the votes have been received from all the tally centers and that 8,544 results have been processed. Of the votes 90 percent were valid while the rest of some 260 thousand votes were in quarantine.

On the allegations of NEC officials engaging in ballot stuffing and intimidation, Dr. Thorpe advised political parties to give evidence in their possession to the Sierra Leone Police.

“We can therefore not comment on the allegations regarding this issue,” she says, adding that they have no reports of NEC officials being put under gun point.

This she said in response to comments made by SLPP secretary general at a press conference a couple days ago.

Commenting on the issue raised of unsigned or unstamped RRFs, Dr. Thorpe says NEC observed this lapse and that there are investigations where it occurred.

“It is important to understand that all who voted must have their votes counted and no one should feel disenfranchised,” she says.

The Commissioner did not take any questions. At the end of the press conference many were disappointed. The public has waited for days to hear results of the November 17th elections. When news broke that NEC was going to speak earlier on in the day everyone assumed that some results would be released.

There are check points around the city at night and at specific points in the East end during the day. Security forces are on high alert.

Earlier on in Wellington a vehicle sped through a check point. The police fired into the air and the it came to a halt. There were speculations that weapons had been found in the car.

But the vehicle in question actually belonged to the National Electoral Commission. The driver had not stopped because he had “mammy coker”, picked up passengers against the official rules of NEC.

Sierra Leoneans will not have peace of mind until NEC finally announces the nation’s next president. According to the law, the commission has up to 10 days to release the results. They have five more days.