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A diaspora view about the elections

A diaspora view about the elections thumbnail

The election of 2012 has entered its last phase of completion with relative peace and stability in the homeland. Now, the expected results of the elections have thrown everyone into a cliff hanging moment with daily rumors and speculations about the winners and losers. The National Electoral Commission seem to be absent in calming the nervous public and moving quickly to announcing the official results. Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora are worried about the integrity of the election because of such unnecessary delays.   (Photo: Mohamed C Bah)

Indeed, warmer accolades and compliments must been given to the ordinary voters who rejected violence in the spirit of peace and security. Those politicians, from all the political parties, who preached from their holy templates of violence, lost their battles of insurrections and transgressions. They cannot win in the future because the people now know what they stood for.

At least, like other African countries that were marred by election violence, Sierra Leone maintained a considerable edge on advancing the cause of democracy and individual freedom. Those who believe that violence can win an election may find themselves in the press releases of the UN archives and may be new defendants at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherland.

Now, the truth-telling character to how far we have come as a mature and democratic nation will depend on what happens after the results are announced. Can we erase that gains we have made so far or will we be the poster child of the new era of free and fair election in Africa? Indeed, we scored high points in the 2007 Presidential and Parliamentary elections as one of the first sub Saharan country where the opposition party won a credible general election from the incumbent government.

Today, we have conducted a free and fair that was largely funded by the government of Sierra Leone.NEC has performed with its limited resources impressively and most of the political parties have conducted their activities in accordance with the electoral laws of the nation. And majority of our citizens voted peacefully without violence or intimidation.

Even the police force has surprisingly done an amazing job in providing security at the polling stations. Infact, it was a turning point for the Inspector General to warn members of his force “that police officers should not be involved in political rallies before and after the elections.”These are good signs of a nation matching towards institutional democracy with a popular mandate from the people.

The Diaspora view about the constitutional 10 days time frame to announce the results of the general election by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) needs to be legislatively reviewed, revised and reformed to better address time-sensitive threshold in the future. Sierra Leone has to develop its electoral capacity to the level that results are announced at the closing of the polls. We must begin to build a demographic history of voting patterns, a chart of voters concerns and the regional dimension of voting trend.

The rationale for an ‘after the poll closing results” is to provide transparency and credibility into the system especially when African countries are known for ballot tampering and other electoral irregularities. NEC should be logistically and strategically efficiency to coordinate with the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service and the media power houses about precincts polling results. Democracy has to run on a steady wheel of logical comprehension not static electoral calculations that are archaic, dangerous and delusional.

Furthermore, time is of the essence that results are announced accordingly to avoid ill-motivated politicians from planning mischief and mayhem that will undermine our hard earned peace and national security now or in the future. We cannot afford to play the game of wait and see at the expense of the virtues of democracy. Delaying the voting results is a temporal denial of justice to the people’s right to know about their newly elected officials.

We must be the force of change by upholding the components of our constitutional democracy. The National Electoral Commission may be performing their duties within the scope of the electoral laws, but at this age of information technology and instant mass communications, the citizens must be informed about their newly elected Presidential, Parliamentary and councilors  sooner rather than later.

If we have made considerable progress in funding our own elections, we must focus in the next election cycle in building a network of faster result announcement strategies after the closing of the polling stations. There is no reason why the nation should be consumed into a psychological frenzy of anxiety simply because NEC is exhausting the constitutional processing time of announcing the election results.

Sierra Leone must continue to invest in the technology of computerized voting machines, train more electoral experts to be able transmit election results at the NEC command center, educate citizens about their civic voting obligations and provide the medium where the voice of the people will be heard after casting their votes.NEC must take the lead in providing access to a new cutting edge technology that will make its institution relevant and viable while at the same time helping to conduct a democratic free and fair election in Sierra Leone.

By Mohamed C. Bah, Atlanta, GA -USA

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