Lawrence Williams: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 December 2020:
Sierra Leone’s elections watchdog – the National Election Watch (NEW) has condemned President Bio’s Minister of Lands for perpetrating what can best be described as gangsterism and machismo during the conduct of the Parliamentary re-run election in Constituency 110.
In a Press Statement released last Saturday 12th December, 2020, NEW said that before the opening of polls in Constituency 110 last Saturday, the Minister of Lands, Dr. Denis Sandy entered Polling Centre 15084 in Kent village with two unaccredited vehicles carrying thugs dressed in black suits and accompanied by an armed military officer. These thugs were made to “obstruct” the NEC officials from performing their sacred duty.
NEW further observed that the thugs did not only obstruct the smooth opening of polls and the start of the voting process in general, but also attacked the female Western Area Regional Director of the Office of National Security (ONS) with very serious threatening remarks after the lady exercised boldness and courage to ask the rascal minister and his group of hoodlums out of the polling centre.
The elections watchdog recorded the behaviour of the outlawed friends of the Cabinet Minister threatening to exploit all their means and connection with senior Cabinet Ministers like Dr. Denis Sandy (Photo) to not only remove the female ONS Director from the position she presently occupies but to further engineer her sacking from the job.
This press was able to confirm through the Independent Radio Network (IRN) election broadcast that morning, that Minister Sandy was not accredited to observe or monitor the election at Constituency 110 and therefore had no business in the constituency on Election Day, let alone a polling centre.
NEW observers also spotted the official vehicle assigned to the Deputy Leader of Parliament at a polling precinct in Tokeh village. This vehicle was among several other unaccredited vehicles roving the constituency on Election Day. Some of these vehicles had their licensed number plates removed.
In its final Press Statement released on Sunday December 13, NEW categorically stated that the presence of high-profile government officials and politicians persisted before and during the polls.
They further observed that the despicable act of using money to bribe the conscience of voters was at play as well as the abuse of incumbency, involving the use of State resources for partisan purposes. The organisation concluded that such acts do not bode well for Sierra Leone’s democracy.
In conclusion, NEW recommends speedy review of the Political Parties Registration Commission Act, with a view to give the Commission prosecutorial powers to address issues of incumbency, campaign financing, intra-party tensions and the outlawed conduct of political parties.
Section 117 of the Public Elections Act 2012 criminalises any act or behaviour by a person or group of persons that directly or indirectly interferes with an election and cause to prevent, obstruct or disturb an election by use of force, violence or threats.
This is the statement published by NEW: