The Coalition of Election Observers, an association that compromises 69 civil society organisations has approved the first phase of voter registration exercise which concluded on September 15, 2022.

National Team Lead of the Coalition of Election Observers, Joseph Abass Sannoh said that despite the challenges, the entire voter registration was encouraging, without violence and material defect that may hamper the conduct and results of the 2023 elections.

He said that staff of the National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA) and Electoral Commission Sierra Leone (ECSL) were highly professional and polite in 90 percent of the polling centres visited.

β€œ98 per cent of the registration centres opened on first day of registration; 95 percent of registration centres visited started at 7am and ended at 5pm daily; the coordination between NCRA and ECSL effectively facilitated the registration process; and special attention was given to the aged, persons with disabilities, pregnant women and lactating mothers,” Sannoh said.

Sannoh said that despite the successes, the Coalition of Election Observers documented some challenges at the commencement of the first phase of the registration process.

He said some of the challenges include slow registration process; lack of adequate electricity; poor road network in Koinadugu and Falaba districts; long distances to registration centres in hard-to-reach communities; rejection of first-time voters due to lack of proper identification; overcrowding of registration centres; insufficient machines; malfunctioning of registration equipment; and registration centre difficult to access by persons with disabilities, among others.

He said that most of these challenges were addressed as the initial stage of the registration process.

Sannoh urged ECSL to collaborate with civil society and community based organisations, the media and political parties to increase awareness; provide alternation power sources at registration centres; increase the number of computers per centres; educate party observers and government officials not to interfere in the registration process; maintain 98% adherence to Service Level Agreement to increase output; create a conducive environment for accredited observers to monitor the exercises.