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Sierra Leone News: NEW commends NEC for Final Voter Register

The National Elections Watch (NEW) and the Standing Together for Democracy Consortium have commended the National Electoral Commission (NEC), for the successful completion of the Final Voters Register (FVR).
In a release issued by NEW the Commission faced several challenges and so “We acknowledge that reaching this stage has been fraught with challenges and setbacks such as the decision on the announcement of the Election Date, the unprecedented merger of the National Civil and Voter Registration Exercise, the Boundary Delimitation and Re-districting and Funding”
But despite these “We are pleased that, we came out strongly as a nation with a FVR produced in readiness for the March 7, 2018 Elections. Given our country’s history, we cherish this progress.”
NEW further called for the independence of the Commission to be respected noting Section 32(11) of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone, which reads “In the exercise of any functions vested in it by this Constitution, the Electoral Commission shall not be subject to the direction or control of any person or authority’. And so they urged, “Parliament, the Government of Sierra Leone and other elections stakeholders to continue to respect the independence of NEC and its constitutional mandate”.
Commenting on the release further Marcella Samba-Sesay Chairperson of NEW told Awoko in an interview that the Commission is being put under pressure by a number of institutions “being that for the first time there was a merger between NCRA and NEC and so there were a lot of problems in the handling of the data”.
Explaining further that a couple of times NEC has been called by parliament “ first it was the redistricting and de-amalgamation exercise, this seriously affected the boundary delimitation process and so the passing of the Provincial Act 2017 had serious constraints for the conduct of the boundary delimitation exercise”.
Sesay said there had been lots of issues so “we think that part of the problem is to give NEC the free hand to be able to deliver on its core mandate”.
Questioned if Civil Society is envisaging any problem come March 2018, the NEW Chairperson said part of the strategy that civil society has put forward is to amass civil society influence into the electoral process. And so they will be calling civil societies across Sierra Leone to get them to understand the issues, and also if there are “potential threats we will look at ways on how to address them in time instead of waiting until its results into a crisis.”
Now that the FVR is complete, NEW called on all political parties to speed their party primaries and also for the Government and its Development Partners to continue to provide the required resources for NEC and other EMBs.
By Betty Milton
Friday September 08, 2017.

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