The decision by NEC (National Electoral Commission) to publish “key electoral dates and activities for the forthcoming Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Council elections” has been welcomed by many Sierra Leoneans and even by our donor partners. This is the clearest sign yet that the NEC is determined to go ahead with timely elections in March 2018.
Before now, the country’s donor partners were skeptical about the conduct of timely elections in Sierra Leone in March 2018.
The NEC is really struggling because the Government is unable or even reluctant to release enough funds for some key activities that are being undertaken by the national elections body.
One major obstacle to the conduct of timely elections in March 2018 was cleared last Friday when MPs voted overwhelmingly for the laying of forty constitutional and statutory instruments relating to the delimitations of constituencies and wards in the sixteen electoral districts. The instruments are expected to become law after a period expiring twenty-one days.
The publication by NEC of key electoral dates and activities and the laying of the forty constitutional and statutory instruments in Parliament are major steps leading to the conduct of timely elections in Sierra Leone in March 2018.
The fact of the matter is that, the Government can no longer use the lack of funds as an excuse to delay the conduct of timely elections in March 2018. With the publication of key electoral dates and activities, donor partners will begin to show interest in supporting NEC to conduct timely and credible elections in March 2018.
The Government has still not released the actual amount requested by NEC for the completion of the voter registration, exhibition and printing of voter ID cards. The amount requested by NEC is Le72 Billion (Seventy two Billion Leones). This amount is being paid to service providers in piece meal by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.
There is no way anyone can attempt to block the conduct of timely elections in Sierra Leone after NEC has published the key electoral dates and activities for the forthcoming elections.
We appeal to the Government to provide the needed resources to enable NEC to conduct timely and credible elections in March 2018. The excuse that Government does not have enough money to fund the elections is no longer tenable.
President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma should ensure that, the money for the conduct of timely and credible elections in March 2018 is made available to NEC in time.
If elections are not held in March 2018 because of lack of funds, the people of this country will blame their President and some of them will even accuse him of wanting to prolong his stay in office beyond March 2018.
We hope that, the March 2018 elections will not be postponed for lack of funds. We sincerely hope that, the March 2018 elections will go on as scheduled. We have no doubt that President Koroma is a man of his word.