The Political Parties Liaison Commitment (PPLC) under the Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone (ECSL) convened a crucial meeting on Sunday, May 21, 2023, to discuss election security and campaigns for the upcoming general elections scheduled for June.

With the engagement of Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs) and various stakeholders, the ECSL announced Tuesday, May 23, 2023, as the official commencement date for election campaigns.

During the meeting, the ECSL leadership provided updates to national and international partners, highlighting the Commission’s preparedness for the upcoming elections. Despite facing daily threats on social media, the ECSL remains steadfast in its commitment to ensuring free, fair, and credible elections and refuses to be intimidated by such unwarranted acts.

In attendance was the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. William Fayia Sellu, who affirmed the Sierra Leone Police’s (SLP) active involvement in the electoral process from the outset.

The IGP reassured the public that the SLP is fully equipped to manage the security aspect of the upcoming elections and pledged their support to the ECSL.

Mr. Abdulai Caulker, the National Security Coordinator from the Office of National Security, emphasized that the security sector is dedicated to providing a conducive and peaceful environment for the June 2023 multi-tier elections.

As part of their preparations, the Integrated Elections Security Planning Committee (IESPC) has been activated by the National Security Council Coordinating Group (NSCCG) to coordinate and administer the security of the forthcoming elections.

To ensure comprehensive security measures, the IESPC conducted a nationwide District Risk Mapping and Threat Assessment across all 16 electoral districts. This assessment led to the development of three essential election security documents, including an Elections Security Strategy, a Communications Strategy, and a Training Manual. These documents are currently being disseminated through training sessions for security forces and the provision of pocket manuals for field personnel as a quick reference guide.

Furthermore, the security sector expressed the need to engage in dialogue with all political parties, particularly concerning issues such as political intolerance, hate speech, regionalism, tribalism, misuse of social media, and the use of marshals.

The NSCoord urged political parties to refrain from deploying marshals, as the SLP will provide adequate security for all political leaders.

Addressing concerns about the misuse of drugs during campaigns, the NSCoord emphasized that such behavior will not be tolerated, and individuals found under the influence will be arrested.

Additionally, the NSCoord warned that only authorized entities, specifically the ECSL and approved media stations, will be allowed to announce election results. Any unauthorized station found in violation of this provision will face immediate closure.

The NSCoord urged all political parties to adhere to the campaign timetable set by the ECSL and cautioned party supporters against destroying campaign materials of rival parties, emphasizing that such actions not only contravene electoral laws but also lack decency.

To enhance public engagement, the NSCoord informed the public that the National Situation Room (NSR) has been activated and operates 24/7 through a toll-free hotline (119 on Orange, Africell, and Qcell). Citizens are encouraged to responsibly report security matters affecting their communities that require intervention from the security sector.

In conclusion, the NSCoord reiterated the security sector’s unwavering support for the ECSL and emphasized that no individual or political group would be allowed to disrupt the stability and progress of Sierra Leone.