As we approach 2012 and the elections fever continues to grip party supporters, the million dollar question most political pundits are advancing is, ‘will NEC conduct an election that will be generally acceptable?’ By the look of things, it is a wait and see situation. The re-appointment of the Chair of NEC, Dr. Christiana Thorpe by the ruling All People’s Congress government has sparked serious disagreement between them and the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP). The opposition is claiming that they were not sufficiently informed about the process and besides, the said Commissioner is considered by them as unfit, given the alleged litigation over her head in her involvement in the nullification of votes during the 2007 elections.
What is of concern here is that Christiana Thorpe has come under serious criticism by the main opposition SLPP as somebody that should not be trusted to conduct another election based on her previous records. Interestingly, though unfortunately for a national election, supporters and sympathizers of the SLPP are in support of the party‘s argument to reject Christina Thorpe. This has put Thorpe’s character under question, a situation that is not good for our young democracy. In the light of this bitter contention, it is prudent for the Government of Sierra Leone and UNIPSIL to seriously engage the opposition SLPP and NEC in order to find a solution to the problem otherwise there is all likelihood that we would be going into an election in which the credibility of NEC’s head is not trusted by one of the key contenders.
Politically, tension is building up within political parties for the conduct of the 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections. UNIPSIL is working with government, the opposition parties, the National Electoral Commission (NEC), Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC), Civil Society and the security forces to ensure that peaceful, free and fair elections are conducted come 2012.
One should not ignore the importance of elections in any society and its potential danger if unfairly conducted by the institution charged with that responsibility. When elections are peacefully, freely and fairly conducted and generally acceptable to the contesting parties, there would be a peaceful transition from one government to another, hence the need to engage NEC and the SLPP in a dialogue forum as already stated above.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.