NEC Response to Opposition Parties’ Voter Fraud Claims

SLPP supporters in Port Loko Photo: TAP File/EU


As the SLPP and PMDC continue to raise hell on election malpractices, NEC urges all political parties to report grievances to the police.

By Abubakarr Kamara | The AfricaPaper

 

Dr. C. Thorpe and Staff at NEC Press Conference Photo: The AfricaPaper/A. Kamara

Press Conference

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone – In what could be described as a theatrical press briefing at the National Electoral Commission’s (NEC) Headquarters at Tower Hill,  Dr. Christiana A. M. Thorpe, NEC  Chairperson encourages political parties to forward their grievances of election malpractices to the Sierra Leone Police with all evidences in their possession on Nov. 21.

Response to Concerns

Dr. Thorpe made a brief five minutes appearance at a jam packed hall comprising of both local and international journalists, who had nursed hopes that the NEC Chair will announce at least part of the results. Journalists and electoral observers were disappointed when the NEC Chairperson in her official opening remarks started with response to concerns raised by the PMDC and SLPP.

She says the Commission received concerns from both the Peoples Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) and the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) pertaining to the conduct of the elections and performance of NEC staff and other security personnel on polling day.

“We would like the political parties to provide any evidence in their possession to the police. NEC has not announced the results of any individual constituency or Centre therein. We can therefore not comment on the allegations regarding the issue of Ballot Stuffing and we have no reports of NEC official being put under gun point,” says Thorpe. “Any evidence of this should be provided to the police. NEC cannot comment on the supply of electricity to polling station, [but it is] safe to say that polling kits include alternative source of light.”

Significant Gains

PMDC Supporters in Makeni Photo: TAP File/EU

As provisional results keep coming, the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) and the Peoples Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) having realized that the North and the Western Area have overwhelmingly voted for the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) party, which has also made significant gains in Kono district, questioned the authenticity of the results incoming results.

While the SLPP is accusing some NEC Officials of conniving with the ruling party to stuff ballots and intimidate their supporters and party agents in the North, Western Area and Kono district, the leader of the PMDC, Charles Francis Margai was concerned about him getting zero where he and his family voted in Aberdeen.

SLPP Secretary General, Sulaiman Banja Tejan Sie believes it is not possible for the SLPP to score zero votes in any of the polling stations especially in the Western Area and therefore alleged that there must have been some election malpractices in those areas. He says upon investigations and reports received with evidence from their agents all over the country, they are convinced that the APC was involved in several malpractices during the elections.

Genuine Results

The SLPP Presidential candidate, Julius Maada Bio says his party will only accept the results if they are genuine noting that they have video evidences of ballot stuffing, intimidation and harassment.

The AfricaPaper’s investigation reveals that the PMDC leader, Charles Margai and his family indeed voted in Constituency 111, Ward 392, Polling Center No. 14218 at Station 6. Margai recorded three votes and a total of 11 at the voting center. When the Independent Media Network (IRN) announced, it stated he had scored zero [no votes], and the provisional NEC result is still posted at the center.

“Sole Winner”

John O. Benjamin, SLPP Chairman Photo: TAP File

A senior NEC Official says these were mere concerns raised and therefore as a responsible Commission, they have urged all political parties to forward complaints to the Sierra Leone Police noting that NEC will corporate with the police in their investigations.

However, before NEC’s announcement yesterday, the SLPP National Chairman, John Oponjo Benjamin declared at a press conference that the SLPP is the “sole winner’ of the November 17 polls if NEC goes strictly by the Electoral Act 2012. He announced that, similar evidences were provided by the APC in the 2007 elections which led to the cancellation of 477 polling stations in especially SLPP strongholds. He says the SLPP has won 10 out of the 19 Councils but declined to mention the number of seats the party has won in the House of Representatives.

“Despite our opposition in Parliament to some of the powers given to the NEC Chairperson, the APC went on to endorse the Elections Act 2012 and now they are going to fall by it once those stations have been nullified and Julius Maada Bio declared winner,” says Chairman Benjamin.

Political observers in Freetown opined that the SLPP Chairman has missed the point and that even if those stations are nullified, there will be a re-vote if it affects the first results and if it does not, it means there is going to be a run-off.

Election Act

The Elections Act 2012 gives Dr. Christiana Thorpe the power to nullify results from any station guilty of fraudulent over-voting. The Act goes on to state that if such nullification will change the pattern of the final results, then a re-run of the elections SHALL be conducted and if such nullification does not affect the final results, then no re-run should be conducted at those stations. The 2012 Elections Act states:

“If the votes cast at an election are more than the number of registered voters, the result will be declared null and void by the Electoral Commission and another election conducted at another date to be fixed by the Commission, if the results affect the overall result in the electoral area. But if the result will not affect the overall result, then no election will be conducted.”

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