The Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone (ECSL), has announced that by February 2023, it will commence the rolling out of voter identity cards to citizens for the forthcoming June 2023 elections. Speaking at an engagement held recently to announce the final voter register, the Chief Electoral Commissioner, Mohamed Konneh, said, the total number of voters amounts to 3,374,258, of which 685,761 were registered in the eastern region, 567,978 in the northern region, 489,617 in the north-west, 691,116 in the southern region, and 939,786 in the western region.
Responding to allegations of deleting 257,000 registrants, Mr. Konneh said the only names that were deleted were those of people who did double registration because their records could not be found on ECSL’s Voter’s Verification Kit at the time of registration. He said they later found duplicated details of these people who registered both with the National Civil Registration Authority and the Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone. These, he said, were the ones deleted, to avoid a bloated voter register.
Mr. Konneh said several children, amounting to 607, under the age of 18, were found to have registered. He said this was informed by the comparison they did between the records of the ECSL and NCRA. He added that information about these children has been submitted to the Sierra Leone Police for an investigation. The highest portion of that figure, 288, he said, registered in the northern region, 62 in the east, 145 in the northeast, 73 in the southern region, and 39 in the western region.
“The electoral commission will continue to remain independent, credible, inclusive, and transparent in all our activities,” said Mr. Konneh. He continued that they will only accommodate the concerns of citizens that are within the confines of the electoral commission law.
However, the ECSL’s credibility has been questioned by many, especially the main opposition party – The All People’s Congress. The party, in a press conference, called for the publication of the disaggregated voter registration data, an audit of the process as well as cancellation of the proposed District Bloc Proportional Representation system that the committee said it would use to conduct this year’s general election.
The Mayor of Freetown, Yvonne Akie-Sawyerr, also expressed concerns over the number of staff ECSL allocated to Freetown for the voter registration exercise, as well as the final voter register which according to the ECSL, 98% of people in Freetown registered to vote.