Over the past several days, especially running up to the official announcement of results for the Presidential elections conducted by ECSL on 24th June 2023, a civil society group calling itself NEW (National Elections Watch) had been publishing flawed data generated from their PRVT (Process and Result Verification for Transparency).
The decision by NEW to hurriedly publish flawed data was meant to undermine the credibility of ECSL and the integrity of the electoral processes.
NEW is largely funded by the European Union. The EU Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Manuel Muller, has been severally accused of supporting a regime change in Sierra Leone.
He has strenuously denied this accusation. But his conduct during the just concluded Presidential elections tells a lot about his nefarious plan to unseat this government using Marcella Samba-Sesay of NEW as a front.
Some NEW staff or affiliates are well-known APC members and supporters. At least two of them, Mohamed Kholifa Koroma and Macksood Gibril Sesay are well known members and supporters of the APC party. Mohamed Kholifa Koroma is the son of the late SAT Koroma (a founder member of the APC party) and Mackshood Sesay served as Electoral Commissioner in the North in 2018.
Their footprints are all over the NEW press release that was recently signed and released by the APC stooge Marcella Samba-Sesay.
The following concerns have been raised about the recent press release issued by NEW:
1. NEW has deliberately failed to share its PRVT methodology and results with the public and all election stakeholders, including the ECSL. With this high level of secrecy by NEW, it is hard to believe the validity of the purported data utilized by them and how the conclusions were reached. It is believed that if NEW’s support for the election was genuine, their PRVT methodology would have been available for public scrutiny.
2. With this high level of secrecy around NEW’s PRVT method and data, it is not impossible that a deliberate data selection bias was employed to secure their preferred outcome. The public strongly believes that NEW deliberately selected polling stations from certain regions or districts to skew their conclusion instead of giving an accurate picture of the total votes cast. Bias in the selection of sample results is extremely dangerous at a time when Sierra Leone is managing elections in a very polarizing context.
3. The public and all election stakeholders are strongly advised to ignore the NEW’s press release, considering its patently flawed data and ill-motivated motives. To illustrate the flawed nature of their data, NEW, for instance, claimed that they used 750 polling stations with a margin of error of +-1.7% to decide that “no candidate will research the constitutional threshold of 55% of votes cast in the first round.” This information is grossly inaccurate for several reasons. Selecting 750 polling stations out of ECSL’s 13,360 can only result in a margin of error of 3.45% and not 1.7% as falsely claimed.
Secondly, to arrive at the 1.7% margin of error that NEW is falsely claiming, their PRVT should have covered 2,662 polling stations, which they failed to do.
Third, in the interest of transparency and mutual accountability, one would have expected NEW to disclose their purported data, especially for the Presidential election they are predicting. Disclosing the said data would help members of the public to determine the accuracy of their claims. NEW has based its conclusion on a deliberately flawed methodology.
4. It is simply unfortunate to have attempted to undermine the credibility of the electoral process by not only seeking to declare an election result (which is outside the mandate of an election observer group) but also by using skewed or flawed data to achieve self-serving motives.
NEW and all election observers are reminded that making fictitious statements about Sierra Leone’s election results without publicly sharing their data and methodology is not only mischievous but is also a calculated attempt to fuel election denial, undermine our peace and democracy, and plunge the country into chaos.