The Lawyers representing the All Peoples Congress (APC) have written a letter to the Electoral Commission Sierra Leone (ECSL) expressing their concerns about various election-related matters.
The letter, sent on behalf of the APC’s National Advisory Committee, addresses the following matters:
Release of Voter Register
The APC had previously requested the final disaggregated Voter Register from the ECSL on March 22 and April 24, 2023, but received no response. They emphasize that providing the Voter Register is crucial for their officials to observe, monitor, and evaluate the upcoming June 24, 2023 elections.
They point out that Yvonne Aki-Sawyer Olle, the former Mayor of Freetown, had also made a similar request for the disaggregated voter registration data for Western Area Urban (Freetown) but received no response.
The APC’s representatives at the Political Parties Liaison Committee (PPLC) meetings have made oral requests to the ECSL, but these have not been positively addressed.
They highlight that the Public Elections Act No. 67 of 2022 (PEA 2022) obliges the ECSL to facilitate the observation, monitoring, and evaluation of elections to promote sound democratic processes.
They point out that according to PEA 2022, the ECSL should have completed the registration, updating, and revision of the Voter Register at least six months before the elections. Since the letter is being written close to the election date, the APC urges the ECSL to provide the Voter Register promptly.
They mention that the Right to Access to Information Act No. 62 of 2013 requires public authorities, including the ECSL, to provide access to information upon request and proactively publish available information.
Despite these legal obligations, the ECSL has failed to provide the final disaggregated Voter Register to the APC.
The APC emphasizes that the ECSL’s refusal or delay in providing the Voter Register would undermine the credibility and acceptability of the elections and their outcome.
They note that potential voters visiting ECSL district offices have been denied their voter identification cards, contradicting the ECSL’s public statements about the issuance of such cards.
Certification of Statements of Results
The APC raises concerns about ECSL officials indicating in PPLC meetings that certification of statements of results would be done by Regional Returning Officers. They argue that this would contravene the PEA 2022, which grants this power exclusively to District Returning Officers.
They assert that only District Returning Officers are authorized to compile and certify statements of results and supply certified copies to observers or counting agents at their offices.
Granting this power to Regional Returning Officers would usurp the functions of District Returning Officers and violate the PEA 2022, further compromising the credibility and acceptability of the elections.
ECSL Letter dated 19 May 2023 and Related Concerns
The APC expresses disappointment with the tone and insufficient response of the ECSL’s letter dated May 19, 2023, particularly regarding anomalies on voter identification cards.
The voluntary admissions made by the ECSL, along with their refusal or delay in providing the Voter Register and credible information on the production, storage, and distribution of ballot papers, as well as the tallying software, have raised suspicion among the APC’s members regarding the credibility of the electoral process.
The APC emphasizes that the ECSL’s actions are unlawful and detrimental to conducting free, fair, and credible elections and maintaining peace and security in the country.
In light of the aforementioned concerns and the APC’s strong desire for credible and peaceful elections on June 24, 2023, the following demands are made:
Disclaimer: Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of Sierraloaded or any employee thereof.
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