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NEWS : Local News  

In Sierra Leone, Final Voters List is not yet out & NEC Nomination Fees are not yet Approved
By Aruna Turay & Sylvia Blyden
Sep 11, 2012, 17:14
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There is some debate in Sierra Leone over the manner in which the National Electoral Commission has commenced the process of receiving names of aspirants for Nomination to contest this years General Elections slated for November 17th 2012.

 

Firstly, a deadline date of 7th September 2012 for receipt of political parties lists of nominated candidates for Local Council positions in the November General elections was announced by NEC but as of yesterday September 10th 2012, NEC Spokesman Albert Massaquoi confirmed to Awareness Times that NEC had still not published its Final Voters Register.This means aspiring candidates can legally state that they do not know which local council they belong to at the time their names were submitted by their parties as the party nominee for such councils.

 

We are almost done. The list is now mature and the process is in the final stages, Albert Massaquoi told Awareness Times. However, when pressed as to the time the final list will be out, he responded, Soon, very soon. It can be recalled that the opposition SLPP had expressed concerns over this delay and the unusual insistence for submission of names when the final register is not yet published or available for public perusal.

 

The second concern is that hundreds and hundreds of Sierra Leoneans who were falsely accused of double-registration only for the truth to emerge that the fault had laid with NEC and not with them, have still not been formally registered nor have they received their Voter ID Cards. Most embarrassingly, they included staff of NEC whose registration details had been recorded into NEC machines several times during their training but whose data had not to be wiped off the NEC machines and were recorded as multiple registrations. One such staff is Mr. Alusine Mark Dumbuya who even had to go into hiding when his name was published amongst hundreds of other innocent NEC Registration staff as multiple registrants. He has been speaking to told Awareness Times.

 

It is fast becoming clear that my voter ID card is not going to be given to me, and that Ill not vote come November. It was as if NEC was so sure that all those accused of criminal double registration would be found guilty that no provision was made to let people have their IDs in case theyre not found guilty, Dumbuya said.


A third concern is that local media reports allege that opposition presidential candidate, Julius Maada Bio, had also not received his Voter ID Card yet from NEC as of yesterday morning. Bio was one of many Sierra Leoneans whose facial photographs had not been printed on cards they were to have been issued with.Naturally, Mr. Bio had rejected the faceless Voter ID card and had been promised he would be issued a new one. As of press time yesterday, there were conflicting reports and it was unclear if Bio had finally received his Voter ID Card.


When Albert Massaquoi, the NEC Spokesman was questioned on the matter of Bios Voter ID card, he was very diplomatic in his response.

 

I cannot comment on individual cases but what I can confirm is that all those whose faces did not appear on their cards have had their cards re-printed. All they have to do is report to NEC with their Voter Slips and they will be given their ID Cards. If anyone says he has not yet received his Voter ID Card, it is maybe because he has not yet turned up at NEC to collect his Voter ID Card, Massaquoi said.

 

A fourth concern is that the prescribed Nomination Fees for aspirants, suggested by Dr. Christiana Thorpe, has not yet been approved by Parliament even though NEC continues to insist that the parties should have kept to last weeks deadline. It can be recalled that the House of Parliament had voted for the Statutory Instrument prescribing the fees, to be allowed to lie in parliament for 21 days rather than debate and approve it by vote or acclamation. As a result, the 21 days will expire on September 12th 2012 which falls tomorrow.


However, Chief Whip in Parliament, Hon. Ibrahim Bundu told Awareness Times yesterday that it was just a matter of time as technically the proposed fees have already sailed through. When asked if the SLPP will not insist on a debate again today when Parliament is slated to meet, Hon. Bundu expressed doubt.


I do not know of any Parliamentary Standing Order, National Constitutional provision or any procedure by which the document can be debated now. It is only a matter of time now. As soon as September 12th is here, it will be considered approved by the House of Parliament, Hon. Ibrahim Bundu said.


© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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