Monday 19 February 2018

NGOs warn credibility of Sierra Leone elections at risk

NGOs warn credibility of Sierra Leone elections at risk
(AFP 09/01/17)

Irregularities in voter registration efforts in Sierra Leone, coupled with growing fears of intimidation of opposition groups, threaten to damage the credibility of national elections set for early next year, several NGOs have warned.

Officials have begun voter registration drives ahead of the March 2018 vote, when President Ernest Bai Koroma is barred by the constitution from standing again after two terms in power since 2007.

But independent observers have found several cases of lost or omitted personal data in several areas, according to Sierra Leone Elections Mega Observers, an alliance of advocacy groups.

The data losses "hold a real potential to create chaos during the election," which could "undermine the credibility of the elections," the alliance said.

On Thursday, another NGO, the National Election Watch (NEW), called for an independent inquiry into a fire this week at the headquarters of the Alliance Democratic Party, an opposition group.

The party's leader, Mohamed Kamarimba Mansaray, said Tuesday that two people on a motorcycle threw molotov cocktails at the building, and alleged that the ruling All People's Congress (APC) was trying to "silence the opposition."

"Such attacks and impunity are bound to meet the threshold of insecurity for opposition parties and candidates," NEW said in a statement.

A spokesman for the APC, Robin Falley, rejected the claims, telling AFP they were "hollow".

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