President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has cautioned officials of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) that free and fair elections form the basis of true democracy.
He made this statement whilst receiving the NEC Annual Report and Strategic Plan at State House.
The presentation of the Commission’s annual report to the president, according to the Chief Electoral Commissioner N’fa Alie Conteh, is a mandate pursuant to section 32 (12) of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone.
Receiving the report, President Koroma thanked the Commissioners for their efforts, expressing hope that the report might have highlighted activities involved in the electioneering process. “As president, I am focused on the professionalism of the Commission,” he said, adding that “this is why government is capacitating NEC in every aspect.”
The president emphasized that the government and people of Sierra Leone have trust in the professionalism of NEC personnel as demonstrated over the years. He expressed strong hope that with the provisional results presented to the Commission by Statistics Sierra Leone, it will help the institution to accordingly map out its activities. He said the introduction of the biometric voting system in Sierra Leone has helped to eliminate over voting and hence whoever wins an election will reflect the views of the people.
In terms of funding the Commission to fairly discharge its duties, President Koroma assured of government’s commitment, informing the Commissioners that he would look into the Strategic Plan to see whether there is need for another engagement.
Giving an overview of the reports, Chief Electoral Commissioner N’fa Alie Conteh said the year 2015 marked the start of the new electoral cycle, spanning from 2015-2019. He noted that the 2015 Annual Report was structured into seven chapters, including chapter one which has to do with the profile of the National Electoral Commission, chapter two, the Departmental Reports Review, chapter three, the Conduct of Elections in 2015, chapter four, the Implementation of other Programmes/Projects in 2015, chapter five, the Preparation for the next electoral Cycle: 2015-2019, chapter six has to do with finance and chapter seven draws the conclusion and recommendations respectively.
The Chief Commissioner also reported of the Commission’s effort in discussions and validation of the Strategic Plan-2015-2019 by internal and external stakeholders to ensure transparency in the whole process. He disclosed that just in 2015 his Commission succeeded in conducting seventeen (17) elections which included three Parliamentary bye elections, five Local Council bye elections, one village head bye election and eight Paramount Chieftaincy elections.
Mr N’fa Alie Conteh said copies of the Annual Report will be distributed to various stakeholders including ministers and parliamentarians for further discussions.