Sierra Leone Telegraph: 26 February 2020:
A controversial decision by the Bio-led SLPP government to empower the National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA) to register every citizen living in the country by the end of March 2020 so as to be able to vote at public elections, has drawn fierce criticisms from sections of the media and the opposition APC and NGC parties.
The government is being accused of planning to rig the 2023 general and presidential elections, after the NCRA published its public notice last week, giving citizens one week to register with the Authority.
In its notice, the NCRA says that anyone failing to register will not be able to obtain their biometric card for voting at all public elections.
But some critics say that IT systems designed for use by the NCRA has been programmed to distort the registration figures to favour the ruling SLPP, by inflating the total number of people living in the ruling party heartlands, while reducing those registered in opposition strongholds.
(Photo: Sierra Leone government chief innovation officer and IT software specialist – Dr David Sengeh – thought to be the man behind the SLPP plan to rig the 2023 elections through the voter registration IT systems).
Others are accusing the government of usurping the powers of the country’s National Electoral Commission, whom they say has the sole responsibility for registration of voters, and publishing of voter lists locally for verification by local residents, in advance of general and presidential elections.
By giving an eligible voting population of over 5 million people just seven days to register, the NCRA is accused of being fraudulent, dishonest and irresponsible.
Today, the main opposition APC has issued this notice, calling a press conference to dicuss this latest development:
“The All Peoples Congress is hereby inviting all media houses to an Emergency Press Conference slated for tomorrow (Thursday 27th February 2020) morning at 9:30am at the APC National Headquarters, Old Railway LIne, Brookfields, Freetown.
“The topic to be discussed is the attempt by the National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA), to usurp the powers of His Excellency President Dr. Julius Maada Bio as well as usurp the functions of the National Electoral Commission (NEC).
“This invitation is also hereby extended to all Media, Public and Political Officers of all Diplomatic Missions stationed inside Sierra Leone. For adequate sitting arrangements, we ask those wishing to attend the press conference, to please kindly confirm their attendance by phone call or WhatsApp message to APC National Publicity Secretariat on +232 78 849998.
“All Interested Comrades of the APC are also urged to be present so as to listen to the position of the APC on the very serious issues to be discussed.
“Signed: Comrade Sidi Yahya Tunis, National Publicity Secretariat, APC, Wednesday February 26th 2020.”
This morning, the Chairman of the National Grand Coalition party (NGC) – Dr Dennis Bright, informed the media that the party will be holding a press conference this Thursday to discuss this development. This is what he said:
This is the public notice published by the NCRA last week that has attracted widespread condemnation and accusations of skulduggery: