From Paul Ejime In Freetown, Sierra Leone |
Sierra Leone’s Police (SLP) have explained that the ban on vehicular movement on March 7 Election Day is aimed at securing public order and safety, consistent with the police mandate.
Twelve of the 16 political parties have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the vehicular ban, with the dissenting parties alleging that the measure would infringe on the constitutional provision on free movement.
Receiving the Head of ECOWAS Election Observation Mission Prof Amos Sawyer on behalf of the Inspector-General at the SLP Headquarters in Freetown on Friday 2nd March, Deputy Inspector-General (DIG) Al-Shek Kamara said all the political parties and the National Electoral Commission (NEC), Sierra Leone, participated in consultations that resulted in the MOU.
He pointed out that under the agreement, NEC is entrusted with accrediting the vehicles authorised to move on Election Day, including those for the SLP, political parties, and persons on essential duties such as the fire service, ambulances, the media and election observers.
There are also special buses paid for by the government to convey voters to and from their polling stations on Election Day, while presidential candidates and their running mates are being provided with security details.
DIG Kamara further explained that the decision on the 6am-7pm ban on the movement of unauthorised vehicles was based on intelligence and past experience where some persons abused the unrestricted vehicular movement to disrupt the electoral process in other voting precincts.
He said the ban, which is only applicable in the District Headquarter Towns, and would not be extended to the rural areas, seeks to safeguard national security and the electoral process.
The senior police officer assured that SLP’s 15,000-strong personnel boosted by sister agencies, such as the fire service, Chiefdom security forces, prison officers and Traffic Wardens, were ready for deployment to man the 11,122 polling stations nationwide with a plan for two security personnel per a polling station.
The police have also identified nine hotspots for special attention, with SLP and the military ready to secure lives and property in the country during and after the election period.
Speaking earlier, Prof. Sawyer had commended the SLP and the other security personnel for maintaining peace and security in the country.
He urged them to redouble their efforts during this crucial election period and address the concerns of stakeholders to ensure a smooth electoral process and the consolidation of peace and democracy in the country and the ECOWAS region.