Diplomacy/International

Intensified peace efforts ahead of Sierra Leone 2023 elections 

Sierra Leone’s Independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion (ICPNC) and the Political Party Registration Commission (PPRC) held a joint peace meeting in Freetown on Monday 19th June to address complaints by the opposition All People’s Congress (APC) against the Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone (ECSL) and security forces, ahead of the 24th June presidential and parliamentary elections.

 

At the meeting attended by senior officials of the four bodies, as well as top national security figures, diplomats and Election Observers from ECOWAS, AU, Commonwealth, and the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation, APC’s deputy leader Dr Richard Konteh, alongside other party officials, listed the party’s areas of complaint to include the ECSL’s Voters Register, Results management system, District level certification and Early voting.

 

The APC officials claimed that there were duplication of names and under-age voters in the Register, with the majority from the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party’s (SLPP) strongholds, while in some cases the Register only had “the voters’ names and photographs without identification numbers or other details.”

 

Consequently, the APC “demands an audit of the Voters Register by an independent firm.”

 

The party also questioned the “eligibility of (ECSL) Commissioners,” and further complained about “violence against APC candidates and supporters, including its presidential candidate and running mate,” as well as attacks on the party’s offices.

 

In his response, the ECSL Chair Mohammed Konneh said most of the issues raised by the APC had been addressed in the past and appealed for understanding to enable the electoral process to proceed.

 

He disclosed that the Commission received on Monday the ballot papers for the elections after a delay of the cargo flight from South Africa.

 

In their interventions, the ICPNC Chair Rev. Shodankeh Johnson and his PPRC counterpart Abdulai Bangura appealed for restraint, but at the same time called for “frank and honest dialogue” for amicable reconciliation and resolution of the issues.

 

After a closed-door session, Rev Johnson announced that a smaller group of representatives of the four bodies should continue the peace meeting on Tuesday.

 

Meanwhile, ECOWAS’ Long-Term Observers were deployed to Sierra Leone’s 16 districts on Monday, with those in urban Freetown attending a Police-Media Dialogue on Elections organised by the Media Reform Coordinating Group (MRCG).

 

Issues covered at the meeting included Police-Media Relations, Challenges and Opportunities for Collaboration on Election Coverage, Police Preparations toward ensuring peaceful elections; Election Coverage: Rights and Responsibilities of Journalists and Ensuring Journalists’ Safety and Security during Elections.

 

At a separate meeting, the ECOWAS Observers were briefed by officials of the MRCG, Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) and the Independent Media Commission (IMC) on the country’s media landscape, ownership, regulation, the status of media freedom, the impact of social media and cybercrimes, and the role of the media in national elections.

 

 

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