Pa Santigie Sesay-USA
In gearing up for the forthcoming Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Council elections slated for June 24 2023, the Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone has on Saturday 3rd September commenced with the registration process to capture possible voters in Sierra Leone.
A day to the commencement of the registration, the Chairman and Chief Electoral Commissioner; Mohamed Kenewui Konneh told the nation that the exercise is segmented into two phases. Each phase, he says will span for 15 days and during each, the designated registration centers will operate between 0700 to 1700 hours across the entire country. The first phase will end on 17th September 2022 and the 2nd phase will start on 20th September and ends on 4th October.
The head of the Elections commission called on all eligible Sierra Leoneans including those who will be 18 years old on 24th June 2023 to turn out in their large numbers at registration centers where they intend to vote on polling day. He cautioned that intended registrants should be in possession of a valid Sierra Leonean passport, previous Voter ID card, a National ID card, certificate of registration from NCRA, or Sierra Leonean birth certificate.
In adhering to this call, #Mountainwaves saw a large crowd crammed at registration centers across the country to be captured but heard complaints from citizens across many parts of the country. These complaints emanated from mainly the western area and some parts of the Northern region of Sierra Leone.
Mohamed Thullah is a resident of Dwazark. He told Mountain Waves, that he ventured out as early as 0600 hours to get registered but the station did not start the process till 10:30 am instead of the stipulated 0700 hours. Even after the process started, the process took a snail pace because some of the staff operating the equipment were not knowledgeable enough to operate the new system. He said staff spent several hours battling to the get the equipment on its feet and when eventually they did, the computers were overheating thereby bringing the already slow process to a completed halt.
Similar situations were reported in especially the East End of Freetown place Kuntoloh, Kissy and Wellington. By the close of the business day at 1700, many people were left unattended to due to late start and hitches encountered during the course of the day.
As if the commission envisages these unfolding challenges, Commissioner Konneh assured the public that a situation room had been established at the ECSL Headquarters to respond to public concerns during like the one highlighted above.
But by and large, the President Julius Maada Bio and his wife Fatima Bio registered on trhe first day. The former president Ernest Bai Koroma and the Mayor of Freetown, Yvonne Aki Sawyerr also did same.
They all called on Sierra Leoneans to do same to fulfil their civic responsibilities in a country where the average Sierra Leonean continues to suffer hardship, poverty and abuses which has provoked several protests and deaths of late. In reality, the success of the registration process will only be seen after its completed. We will continue to update you all as usual.