National Elections Watch (NEW) has developed a five-year strategic plan that focuses on the entire political cycle of activities. The Chair of NEW, Marcella Samba-Sesay, said the strategic plan will look at the special challenges and difficulties associated with polling day and its stages; elections security and political violence; non-adherence to political and electoral laws and processes; inadequate citizens knowledge on political and electoral laws, and processes and inadequate institutional and management capacity.
“In promoting our strategic engagements NEW has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Electoral Commission (NEC) which gives us unfettered access to the activities of NEC. In light of this, NEW engaged with the Boundary Delimitation Exercise observing every aspect of the process.” She said NEW strategically observed the National Civil and Voter Registration Exercise by deploying observers in statistically representative sample of registration centres. This was backed up with supervisors and roving observers in all the electoral districts.
She averred that NEW also observed the data transmission and adjudication process conducted by NEC and the National Civil Registration Authorities (NCRA). “NEW further observed the exhibition and inquiry process, spotted the issue of data loss and misplacement and was the first to raise it to the public. NEW followed up NEC’s intervention to rectify the issue of data loss by NEC falling back to the VIU 800/820 kits and the CVR Duplicate Form 01 and the registration journal.”
Samba-Sesay stressed that for the purpose of transparency, NEW made sure that NEC has distributed the Final Voter Register (FVR) to political parties and they observed the intra-political party democracies for political parties that invited them to their party delegates conferences.
Marcella Samba-Sesay said It is against this backdrop that they are in the process of developing a Media Monitoring Strategy that will enable them monitor the media landscape across the country paying special attention to hate speech, biased reporting, and uneven allocation of airtime to political parties and candidates especially by the state broadcaster Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC).
Another member of NEW Ngola Katta said they will also document and follow up on elections offences, complaints and petitions in the police stations and the Electoral Courts established by the Chief Justice.
“To ensure that we meaningfully contribute to peaceful and credible 2018 elections process, our Polling Day Observation Strategy will involve: a high tech citizens’ situation room to service the various levels of observers and inform the analysis and statements to the public on polling day and beyond. We will deploy an observer in every polling station and also deploy long term observers (LTOs) across the country. The Conduct a Parallel Vote Tabulation Exercise (PVT) to capture information from the field in real time we will make use of and we will deploy one observer per every polling center to capture result counts for all polling stations in the center. Finally, we will deploy incident reporters that will feed real time information of incidents to the NEW Citizen Situation Room (CSR) for rapid response.
“The Sierra Leone Police (SLP) neutrality and professionalism is to be guaranteed especially in crowd control and stop impunity and be clear on the rules of engagement, and the routine engagement of the citizenry by NEC on the stages in the electoral processes to enhance citizens confidence must be protected. Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) is to exercise robust leadership in managing Political Parties conduct in order to deter violence and political party leaders to take responsibility of their membership conduct during political party rallies and other activities.”
He concluded by saying that robust civic education by different stakeholders to ensure electorate are knowledgeable about the process and enhance participation must be in place by all groups that are part of the election process and adequate and timely disbursement of funds to the Elections Management Bodies (EMBs) especially NEC must be met by the government.
Marcella Samba-Sesay stated that NEW wish to state that they want to thank the European Union, UK Aid, OSIWA and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) for their usual support to them that will make them work effectively during the electioneering process.
Monday October 30, 2017.