By Stephen V. Lansana
The Eminent Persons of the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) Situation Room on Friday March 9, 2018, urged the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to expedite the release of the results as unnecessary delays could lead to anxiety, uncertainty and tension.
WANEP Situation Room identified key issues like: Reports of late arrival of voting materials in some areas and isolated incidents of insufficient number of security personnel, NEC officials, and party agents in some of the polling stations; some polling stations found to be unsuitable though 67 percent of the voting process deemed satisfactory, and 26 percent fair and 7 percent unsatisfactory; inadequate supply of election materials in certain polling stations; voting procedures not adhered to due to inadequate information to voters; failure to present the required identity cards and in some instances names of voters were not listed at polling stations; and reports of intimidation of police personnel by certain presidential candidate, among others.
In intervening in the various issues, WANEP Situation Room engaged NEC, Sierra Leone Police, political parties and Political Party Registration Commission to address those issues.
WANEP and its partners recommended that political parties and their supporters continue to remain calm and abide by the protocols governing the declaration of results; NEC should expedite the release of the results and provide regular updates; the security personnel should continue to exercise the highest level of professionalism; the mainstream media should continue to report responsibly; and citizens should show restraint in sharing inflammatory information about the election results on social media.
“We further call on all stakeholders including National and International Observers to ensure that the electoral process is successfully completed in a bid to adhere to the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (2007) and the ECOWAS protocol on Democracy and Good Governance,” the Eminent Persons of WANEP Situation Room said in a statement.
They added, “Whilst we note heightened excitement from provisional results being released by private data tallying sources, we appeal to political parties and the general public to exercise restraint and wait patiently for the declaration of the results by the NEC.”
They called on all to resist the attempt to disseminate information on social media or otherwise that has not been verified. “We want to emphasize that Sierra Leone has once again demonstrated its resilience as a democratic nation. Let us continue to consolidate our gains by respecting the legal, institutional, and administrative frameworks governing our electoral process. “
“We therefore have faith in the process as findings from the data analyzed demonstrate voters were not largely disenfranchised. We encourage the electorate and all stakeholders in Sierra Leone to continue to go through the process peacefully. We note however that we have entered into a very crucial phase of the electoral process, which are the counting, collating, certification and declaration of results,” they said.
Over the last four days, the WANEP Election Situation Room received reports on the electoral process from its 500 accredited observers deployed across the country.