Sierra Leone’s National Election Watch publishes report into Kasirie election violence

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 27 November 2019:

Sierra Leone’s elections watchdog – the National Election Watch (NEW), has published its report into the conduct of the bye-election in Kasirie, in the Kambia district, which was won by the opposition National Grand Coalition (NGC) party, amid allegations of violence by supporters of the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP).

This is what NEW says:

CONCERNS OVER ELECTIONS VIOLENCE BECOMING A PATTERN AS EXHIBITED AGAIN IN THE BYE ELECTION IN WARD 210

NEW is worried that violence is becoming commonplace in elections and electoral activities in Sierra Leone and wish to call on all actors to commit to put an end to this trend. NEW wants to raise concerns over the influx of youth and political party stalwarts that led to violence in Ward 210, Kambia District, during the Bye-election conducted by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) on Saturday, 23rd November 2019.The vacancy occurred as a result of the death of the substantive Councillor.

NEW observed the Bye-election in line with its mandate to assess the extent to which standards of holding democratic elections as espoused in the 1991 Constitution, the Public Elections Act (PEA) of 2012 and other regional and international principles are adhered to.

NEW deployed 7 stationed observers in the polling centers in Ward 210 with 3 roving supervisors to support the stationed observers and to respond promptly to incidents. NEW observed the entire process, including opening, polling, closing and counting, tallying and the announcement of results. The tallying and announcement of results were done at the Kambia District Council Hall on Sunday, 24th November 2019.

Key Observations

NEW observed that:

  • Polling stations were opened on time across the ward.
  • NEC deployed an inclusive polling staff (youth, women and Persons with Disability)
  • Essential voting materials such as: ballot boxes, ballot papers, seals, voting booths, voter register, NEC stamps, indelible ink, papers and Result Reconciliation Forms (RRFs) were available in all polling stations.
  • 3 (All Peoples Congress (APC), National Grand Coalition (NGC) and Sierra Leone Peoples party ( SLPP) out the 6 contesting Political Parties deployed party agents in all polling stations.
  • Security personnel from the Sierra Leone Police (SLP), mostly OSD personnel were deployed and visible in all polling centres.
  • Other observers present were: Office of National Security (ONS) and the media.
  • Voter turn-out was good at 53.2%.
  • There were rowdy crowds of people hanging around polling centres after casting their votes.
  • There was a visible presence of senior government officials, ministers and political party stalwarts in the ward.
  • A well-known thug in Bamoi Lumar called Electric was seen moving around with youth in an unlicensed black Toyota Hilux.
  • There were 2 roving vehicles with covered number plates carrying groups of youth across the ward.
  • The youth in the 2 roving vehicles attacked the member of Parliament of Constituency 062, Hon. Dr. Kandeh K.Yumkella, and team in front of the ABC Business Centre at Royema section close to KDEC Primary School Polling Centre code 08161in Kasirie. The youth forcefully tried to take his mobile phone or get him to delete some photos he had taken. In the process, Hon. Dr. Kandeh K. Yumkella and others sustained injuries

Concerns

NEW is concerned that:

  • Such violent activities are being carried out in full view of the SLP with no individual prosecuted to date.
  • The continued presence of senior government officials, ministers and political party stalwarts in elections heightens tension and serves as a recipe for violence; they were still seen in Ward 210 Bye-election.
  • Despite repeated calls, vehicles with covered and unlicensed number plates were spotted within polling precincts carrying youth in the full view of security personnel.
  • Bye-elections are now characterized by violence with young people being misused.

Recommendations

NEW Recommends that:

  • The importation of youth to serve as thugs into areas where elections are being held be banned and defaulters prosecuted.
  • SLP ensures that there are no crowds of people in the precincts of polling centres after casting their votes.
  • ONS, SLP and other security agencies arrest and prosecute drivers and occupants of vehicles with covered and unlicensed number plates plying within areas where elections are being conducted.
  • ONS and SLP put strict measures in place to prohibit the movement of senior government officials, ministers and political party stalwarts with groups of youth during elections.

Conclusion

NEW commends NEC for the successful conduct and conclusion of the Bye-election in Ward 210.NEW further commends SLP for their prompt intervention in calling for OSD reinforcement to man the polling centres during counting and tallying.

National Election Watch (NEW) is a coalition of local and international organizations in Sierra Leone with a common objective of supporting free, fair and peaceful elections. NEW will continue to observe all elections and will report its findings accordingly. End 

Contacts: Marcella Samba-Sesay +23276984590, James Lahai +23276962233, Sallieu Kamara +23276613324

1 Comment

  1. Hon. Dr. Kandeh K. Yumkella (KKY) returned to Parliament after a painful but victorious by-election in his constituency. Again he *Put Salone Fors* by returning to the people’s business.

    Some sources in Freetown have disclosed that he has also been invited to meet with a cross-section of the *International Community* later this week. The latter are very concerned about the heavy handedness of the SLPP regime, and the increasing attacks on opposition parties in their strongholds as has been demonstrated in by-elections this year in Tonkoh Limba (for the APC), in Kono (in the case of C4C), in Hamilton in Freetown, and now in Kasiri (in the case of the NGC).

    We are pleased that *New-National Elections Watch* has confirmed that SLPP thugs led by the notorious gangster “Electric” was parading the whole day “in full view of the SLP” even after the attack on Hon. Yumkella.

    We also note that no SLPP or Government official has called our leader to sympathise or apologise. For the government, it is business as usual. What if they had killed or maimed our leader? Thank God that his second test and Xray today revealed that there is no fracture to the bone.

    Two days after their defeat in Samu, we have received reports of a series of government reprisal attacks against NGC members. So Instead of apologies, reconciliation and harmony we see revenge, reprisals and repression.

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