By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma
One of the leading human rights organizations in Sierra Leone, LEGAL LINK has in a letter dated 28th November 2022 addressed to the Chief Electoral Commissioner of the country’s electoral body called on the body to provide a transparent explanation and to show stakeholders how and why they deleted over 250,000 registrants from the voter’s register, whilst also urging the elections body to extend the voter exhibition exercise across the country.
The right group said they made the call out of a deep sense of cosmic responsibility, love for the country’s democracy and nation adding that they believed the electoral body’s unilateral decision will disenfranchise registrants from taking part in the 2023 elections.
‘’In the opinion of LEGAL LINK, this decision taken by the ECSL to delete over 250,000 registrants from the voter’s register if not transparently addressed has the proclivity to undermine the integrity and credibility of the 2023 general elections and further pose a clear and present danger to the peace and stability of our nation,’’ the letter reads.
The group noted that their call to action is not in any way to be misconstrued as taking the sides of deviants and election fraudsters but rather it is to ensure that the electoral body provides a transparent, evident-based explanation showcasing how they arrived at a decision to delete over 250,000 registrants from the voters ‘register.
‘’ We also request that such inquiry and or evidence based explanation be done in the presence of stakeholders inclusive of political parties, election management bodies, civil society organizations, donor and diplomatic community and the press showcasing the matrix and data of double registrations for all to see and witness. By so doing, it would enable the ECSL to win the trust and confidence of all players involved in the electioneering process and further help in deepening our democratic credentials as a nation,’’ the letter added.
On the voter exhibition, LEGAL LINK believed that the rationale for embarking on a voter exhibition drive amongst other things is to afford electorates the opportunity to confirm, correct, include and to make objections to their records on the provisional voter register so as to prevent disenfranchisement or disruptions on polling day.
‘’By our observation of the exhibition process, it is clear as crystal that your fundamental objective of the exhibition exercise has been clearly undermined due to the shortness of the time frame allocated to complete the exercise. Given the myriad of challenges that eclipsed the voter registration exercise, four days is certainly unrealistic to dealing with all of the corrections, inclusions and or objections in the voter register nation-wide. In line with the spirit of leaving no one behind and also not willfully disenfranchising the electorate of their fundamental human rights to vote and be voted for in the 2023 general elections, we crave your kind indulgence to consider a reasonable extension of the voter exhibition exercise as such will bring no harm to the electioneering process,’’ LEGAL LINK lamented.