PRESS STATEMENT Freetown, 9th March, 2018
Preliminary Statement by the Women’s Situation Room-Sierra Leone on the March 7th, 2018 Presidential and General Elections in Sierra Leone
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen of the press.
On 7 March 2018, Presidential and General elections were held in Sierra Leone. The Women’s Situation Room (WSR) – Sierra Leone is pleased to release its preliminary position statement on the polling process. The Women’s Situation Room is a women’s peacebuilding mechanism to prevent and mitigate conflict before, during and after elections in African countries.
For the elections observation purposes, the WSR-SL deployed 400 observers and 96 peace monitors across the country. It set up a call centre for members of the public to report on elections related incidents. The call centre, which has been operational since 5 March 2018, received 1,914 calls as of 8th March. The WSR-SL observed the elections held on 7 March and commends the people of Sierra Leone for turning out to vote and remaining largely peaceful and orderly throughout the process. WSR also commends the National Electoral Commission (NEC), Sierra Leone Police and political party leaders and supporters for playing their part and contributing to the peaceful conduct of the polls.
However, reports received from the WSR-SL observers, peace monitors and the members of public via our Toll Free number 977 in our Call Centre revealed some deficiencies on polling day. Of the calls received, the majority were related to the elections procedures, materials and logistics such as voters not allowed to vote because their names were not found on the Final Voter Register even though they had their Voter ID Cards; voters with special needs, including the aged, pregnant women and nursing mothers did not receive adequate attention; and incidents of political campaigning while voting was still ongoing.
The WSR-SL took note of the following:
- The standoff between the security forces and the Presidential Candidate of the SLPP at their Goderich office, which created chaos and tension around the elections process.
- The postponement of the Mayoral and Councilor elections in seven polling centres in Bonthe and in Kenema and Pujehun districts respectively.
- A number of polling centres located in school buildings lacked facilitates such as proper water, sanitation.
- The dissemination of elections results by political parties poses a threat to peace.
The WSR appeals to the entities responsible for security in the electoral process to continue to remain active and engaged to maintain the successes achieved thus far in this electoral process and help conclude the rest of the process peacefully.
The WSR urges all political parties and their supporters to remain calm and peaceful for the collation, tallying and announcement of the final results by the National Electoral Commission, and to accept the official elections results which will be published by the NEC in the coming days and issues of disputes and disagreements, if any, shall be addressed through legal means.
The Women’s Situation Room-Sierra Leone appreciates the cooperation of the NEC and the Sierra Leone Police who staffed our Intervention Desks.
The Women’s Situation Room remains open till the 13th of March and encourages general public to continue calling the WSR-SL Toll Free number 977 and report any situation of concern threatening peace and requiring intervention.
Thank you all and Remember “PEACE DAE NA WE HAN”.