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Presidential run-off: NEC warns Sierra Leone Police against obstruction

Mohammed Conteh, Sierra Leone Chief Electoral Officer

By Emmanuel Oloniruha

The National Electoral Commission (NEC) has warned the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) to refrain from actions that may obstruct electoral activities.

NEC Chairman, Mohamed Conteh who made the call in a statement in Freetown, urged the SLP not to  intimidate electoral staff, as preparations for presidential run off election continue.

Conteh said that as the body charged with the responsibility to conduct all public elections, the NEC was committed to organising a credible run off on March 27.

He added that NEC was currently engaged in preparing for a credible and efficient conduct of the run off election in all district electoral offices and regional tally centres.

Conteh, however expressed worry over recent actions of the SLP, especially on the intimidation of the commission’s staff members.

“Acknowledging the role of the Sierra Leone Police in ensuring electoral security, the NEC has routinely cooperated with the SLP as a working partner opening its doors, providing information and availing its staff.

“In recent days, however, the SLP entered NEC premises, unannounced and at random, interrogated NEC staff; and obstructed them from performing their duties.

“In addition to delaying the time sensitive work that is critical to the conduct of the Presidential run-off election, the unsystematic and confrontational nature of these visits has sewed to intimidate some staff.

“The NEC is committed to conducting electoral activities according to law and upholding the Constitutional and Human Rights of citizens, including its own staff.

“To this end, the NEC expresses its continued willingness to cooperate with the SLP.

“The NEC wants to remind the SLP that the Commission is the sole electoral management body charged with the conduct of public elections in Sierra Leone.

“SLP should refrain from actions that may obstruct electoral activities, apparent intimidation of our electoral staff or undermine the credibility and independence of the electoral process in any way.”

NAN reports that general elections were held in Sierra Leone on March 7 to elect the President, Parliament and local councils.

Incumbent President Ernest Koroma is not running for another term, as he is constitutionally ineligible, having served the maximum ten years in office.

No presidential candidate received the 55 per cent of the vote required to win in the first round.

NAN reports that the  re run was ordered by the NEC between the top two candidates, opposition leader Julius Bio of the Sierra Leone People’s Party and Samura Kamara of the ruling All People’s Congress; the two were separated by under 15,000 votes in the first round.

The President of Sierra Leone is elected using a modified two-round system, with a candidate having to receive more that 55 per cent of the vote in the first round to be elected.

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