The National Electoral Commission (NEC) Sierra Leone has affirmed its readiness to conduct the Presidential run-off election on Saturday 31st March.
“At NEC we are prepared to deliver a credible election,” NEC Chairman Mohamed N’fah-Alie Conteth told an ECOWAS Observation team in his office on the eve of poll.
He confirmed that polling materials – sensitive and non-sensitive – had been distributed to all the 16 Administrative Districts, except those in urban areas, which will be distributed hours before or on the Election Day.
Chief Commissioner Conteh said the Commission was deploying some 63,000 permanent and ad-hoc staff across the 11,122 polling stations in 3,300 polling centres to serve the 3.17 million registered voters in the country with an estimated population of seven million.
Furthermore, the chairman said NEC has also met with officials of the two political parties contesting the presidential run-off, after the preventive diplomacy consultation facilitated by Heads of international observation missions, to agree on the modalities for counting of ballots, tallying and transmission of results from the district to regional and national levels.
According to him, tallying will take place at district level, certified by district officers with printouts given to political party agents. The certified results will then be transmitted to regional centres and then to the national office.
The final national results will then be announced, according to districts.
He used the opportunity to commend Sierra Leoneans and political stakeholders for their patience, adding that the process was near completion.
The NEC chair also said the tension between the Commission and the Sierra Leone Police (SLP), had been resolved with all sides agreeing that polling materials would be accompanied by police and security personnel, while polling centres will also been manned by the security according to provisions of the electoral law.
He thanked the international community particularly, ECOWAS, AU, EISA, Commonwealth, EU, UNDP and other development partners, and “especially our African brothers and sisters on observation missions” for their support.
On lessons learnt from the electoral process, the NEC Chair noted that given the country’s high illiteracy rate of about 60%, there was the need for a robust voter education, training of polling officials and incorporation of gender data political inclusivity for improvement in the future.