Carter Center continues to question the credibility of Sierra Leone election results

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 22 July 2023:

As the post-election political crisis continues to bedevil President Bio’s government and threatening to cause economic turmoil, Western countries including the European Union are refusing to endorse the election results announced by the Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone (ECSL) last month. (Photo above: President Bio receiving his certificate of presidency from the chief electoral commissioner Konneh).

The country’s main opposition APC party, elections monitoring groups and observers have denounced the results as fraudulent.

Last week, the European Union published its interim report into the conduct of the elections and was quite scathing in its criticism of the ECSL, the security forces and the government’s abuse of its power of incumbency.

There are calls for the ECSL to publish all polling station level results so that swift verification can be made by the opposition and election observers. But the ECSL under the direction of President Bio and his ruling SLPP is refusing to publish the results, after proclaiming President Bio the elected president of Sierra Leone for another five years.

The US based Carter Centre last month published a report on the elections and was highly critical of the ECSL. Yesterday, the Carter Centre reiterated its concerns and is once again calling on the ECSL to publish all polling station level results for transparent verification.

So far, there has been no response from the ECSL or the government.

This is what the Carter Centre yesterday: “Following the conclusion of the tabulation process, the Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone (ECSL) released final results for parliamentary, mayoral, and local government elections in the first days of July showing unusual variances compared to the results of the presidential race released on June 27. This heightens doubts about the credibility of the tabulation process and the results from the June 24 election.

“Parliamentary, mayoral, and local government election results were initially released by verbal announcements at a press conference on July 1. The actual numbers were then published over multiple days on social media. Comparing the ECSL’s data for the parliamentary elections with the presidential results, there are differences in turnout as well as differences in votes for key parties in many districts. These variances raise further questions about the credibility of the election results.

“The Process and Results Verification for Transparency (PRVT) exercise conducted by the National Election Watch raises similar concerns about the credibility of the presidential results, particularly when analyzed with The Carter Center’s direct observations in the five tabulation centers.

“The Carter Center is familiar with and has confidence in the methodology of the PRVT conducted by National Election Watch (NEW). Sample-based observation methodologies have been conducted by NEW in elections in Sierra Leone since 2007 with a high degree of professionalism and have successfully projected electoral results with statistical confidence.

“To ensure the credibility of the process, The Carter Center again calls on the ECSL to release results at the polling station level, consistent with international best practice, to allow for cross-verification of results recorded by party agents and observers on election day.

“Where there are discrepancies in the results announced by the ECSL and those recorded by party agents and observers, reviews of ballot box seals and recounts can be conducted to affirm the credibility of the results announced by the ECSL. The publication of the original Reconciliation & Result Forms, retained by the ECSL, can also help establish the credibility of the results.

“The Carter Center also is deeply concerned about reports of intimidation of some election observers and calls on all Sierra Leoneans to ensure that accredited election observers can carry out their responsibilities. Election observers play a critical role in providing transparency, and their reports can help verify the credibility of the process.”

Meanwhile, there are reports of the IMF and the World Bank holding back on much needed financial support for Sierra Leone, aimed at boosting the country’s economy until the current political crisis is resolved.


Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.