By Emmanuel Oloniruha
The Sierra Leone National Electoral Commission (NEC) has said that about 600 ballot papers for Wednesday’s
elections are missing.
Miatta French, NEC Commissioner Western Region, disclosed this in Freetown on Tuesday at a news conference on the level of the commission’s preparations for presidential, parliamentary, mayor and councillorship elections.
French said that 150 ballot papers for each of the elections, out of 3,759,100 total ballots deployed for each election, got missing at the process of deployment to the polling units.
She, however, assured that the incident would not in any way affect the conduct and credibility of the elections in the affected areas, as the situation had been taken care of.
“In the process of deployment we already have one casualty in Kanema District in the Eastern Region.
“It appears that there was problem with a truck; that is what we were told and that some of the ballot papers fell from the truck.
“We have recovered all but one box and we are in the process of trying to conclude investigation but for the time being whatever is not accounted for we have cancelled.
“The coordinator who is in charge of the area has been replaced with someone else for the time being.
“That is just for Kenema,and a problem with one ward.
“For now we are only missing 150 ballots of each of these elections, that is for presidential, parliamentary, mayor and the councillors,’’ French said.
The NEC Chief Electoral Officer, Mohamed Conteh, also assured that the development had been taken care of by the commission.
“ As the commission said, we are aware of missing ballot papers. First and foremost, it will not affect elections in that area.
“Secondly all the ballot papers by law are serialised. We told you that we now have serial number of these ballot papers. They are now cancelled. So nobody will use them. If they use them definitely we will know and it will not affect the election in that area.
“We have more ballot papers that we provided for this unforeseen circumstances,’’ Cntech said.
He also said that anybody that presented fake or cloned Identity Card for the exercise would be arrested.
He said that the commission would not disenfranchise any voter, including those who had lost their cards.
Conteh added that the commission would allow them to vote if they could provide means of identifications or answer relevant questions from the electoral officer.
The country has an estimated seven million population and 3.17 million registered voters, who will cast their ballots in 11,122 polling stations nationwide.
Sierra Leone elections are being contested by 16 presidential candidates, including two women, and more than 700 contenders for the 144-seat unicameral parliament.
One hundred and thirty-two of the lawmakers will be elected directly, complemented by 12 slots for Paramount Chief Members of Parliament.