The spokesman for Sierra Leone’s National Electoral Commission says the electoral body has taken new measures to ensure Saturday’s general election is transparent and credible.
“The commission is poised to conducting credible elections. In that vein, the commission is undertaking series of activities,” said commission spokesman Albert Massaquoi. “At the moment the commission has recruited over 70,000 staff and training is underway for [the] staff at different levels all over the country.”
Massaquoi says the Electoral Commission worked closely with all political parties as well as the police to prevent any violence during the vote.
His comments came after some Sierra Leoneans expressed concern that political party activities in the run-up to the election could create tension and violence.
“As a result of experiences of past elections, the commission in collaboration with these parties and the Sierra Leone police, has actually drawn [up] a polling day activity where vehicular movement activities would be restricted. So that people can vote within their wards in their communities and go home early,” said Massaquoi.
Massaquoi said the electoral body has already begun distributing polling station materials throughout the country in preparation for the balloting. He said the commission also has taken measures to speed up the announcement of election results.
“It took quite a long period of time for the commission to announce election results [in the past]. But, this time around for the 2012 elections, results are going to be announced at regional level,” said Massaquoi.
“Regional coalition centers have been set up in four regional capitals,” said Massaquoi. “The results at local levels, regional levels and at district levels would be announced no sooner than [when] the polls are closed. So, in a couple of days we would expect to have all of the results finalized and announced, which would be the final results.”
The U.S.-based Carter Center is monitoring the election in Sierra Leone and has expressed concern about a number of developments that it said may undermine public confidence in the balloting.
Gregory Houel, the Sierra Leone country director for the Carter Center, said one such area of concern is what he described as inadequate voter education, mainly at the local level.
But, Massaquoi says the electoral body has taken steps to address that.
“The commission did address these concerns and the commission came out with certain strategies. One of these is the use of the WEEKS, Ward Electoral Education Committee. The members go out and about doing some amount of electoral education and of course the commission has also been using the traditional forms of media,” said Massaquoi.