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ELECTION IS A TESTIMONY TO PEOPLE’S SOVEREIGNTY PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Commentary
Written by BANKOLE CLIFFORD EKUNDAYO MORGAN, HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATE   
Wednesday, 12 April 2017 18:40

(The thoughts expressed in this article are purely and entirely the thoughts of the author)

Election in any democratic setting, include the enjoyment of those rights that will elicit the full participation of individuals in determining the political life of his/her country. An election is a decision making process through which eligible citizens(those who have reached the age of majority, 18 years and above and with sound mind) freely choose their leaders through the ballot box to hold public offices for a specified term.

Generally, people vote with the expectation that the office holders would represent their communitiesand or countries best interest.  Elections are viewed as a central feature of the rule of law, human rights, and democracy. Essentially, election is a testimony to peoples’ sovereignty and that ought to be respected and the process must be credible, otherwise there will be challenge with regards the acceptance of the result.

ELECTIONS SERVE THREE ESSENTIAL PURPOSES

It is my opinion that elections serve three essential purposes. Firstly, elections provide an avenue for the peaceful resolution of competition for political power. Secondly, election confers legitimacy upon office holders who are elected through majority vote and lastly, elections provide an effective avenue for citizens to express their free will and hence participate in the governance of their country. From all indications, election is not a moment for greedy and corrupt politicians to influence the electioneering process, nor dictate the outcome of the result, neither manipulates especially the youths, but election in my opinion should be the expression of the will of the people entitled to vote.  Elections are conducted for electorates who have endeavoured to register to freely express their will through the ballot box on who should be their next leader. That is why it is very essential for all eligible voters to endeavour to register from the 20th March, to 16th April, 2017. I subscribed to the notion that Voter Registration is the Heartbeat of Democracy. We register to vote in order to be the architect of our destiny.

VOTER REGISTRATION ESTABLISHES THE ELIGIBILITY OF ELECTORATES TO VOTE

In every electoral process, the most critical and crucial period is what is known as Voter Registration. If conducted well, voter registration confers legitimacy to the process. The entire electoral process may be perceived as illegitimate should the registration exercise be flawed. Voter registration establishes the eligibility of electorates to vote. As one of the more costly, time-consuming and complex aspects of the electoral process, it often accounts for a considerable portion of the budget, staff time and resources of an election management authority. It is important to note that the National Electoral Commission(NEC) did their best with regards mechanism put together for the voter registration exercise. However, by my observation their best does not seem to match up with the general expectation of the public.The registration exercise has lots of challenges ranging from the seemingly complex questions, the low turn-out, the time frame for the completion of registration of a single individual at a centre, the inadequate centres in some locations like Koyah Town, Wellington and also the distance covered to access the registration centres by potential voters in some areas. It is my view that NEC will extendthe voter registration exercise. I might wrong, but the total voter registration is not commensurate to what people were expecting. The registration process is said to be slow due to some of the questions which I think are not relevant by my estimation and I see no necessity to blend the voter registration exercise to that of the civil registration. Both are essential exercises that should be done independently.

THE RIGHT TO PARTICIPATE IN ELECTION IS ONE THE CORNERSTONES OF DEMOCRACY.

The enjoyment of the right to participate in election is one of the cornerstones of democracy. The most fundamental form of participation in decision making exercise like election,is voting in free, fair, credible and regular elections. For citizens to exercise their democratic right to vote, relevant authorities need to establish a comprehensive and inclusive voters’ list, also called a voters’ register. The list should be carefully maintained to ensure that each eligible citizen is registered to vote once and only once in an election.

A voters’ list makes it possible to separate two of the most important functions of the election management authority, namely verifying voter eligibility and controlling the legitimacy of the voting process. Essentially, voter registration list may also be used for several purposes such as in voter education, and should be provided to all registered political parties and candidates to aid them in their campaigns. It is very difficult if not impossible to conduct elections without a credible voter registration exercise.

VOTER REGISTRATION IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPOANTANT TASKS OF ELECTION ADMINISTRATION

It is important to note that for election to be credible, the body conducting the election must ensure that voters have met all eligibility requirements, and there is a detailed list of all registered voters captured, the voters’ list helps confer legitimacy on the electoral process. Conversely, the legitimacy of the process will immediately be called into question if there are problems with the registration of voters, and particularly with the integrity of the voters’ list. As a human rights advocate who has observed Presidential and Parliamentary elections before, I have realized that voter registration exercise is one of the most important tasks of election administration.Essentially, if voter registration exercise is conducted well, voter registration confers legitimacy to the process. But if the body conducting the election carried out the registration exercise in a faulty manner, the entire electoral process may be perceived as illegitimate and that is should the registration exercise be flawed.

VOTERS’ LISTS SUPPORT DEMOCRATIC PRINCIPLES

It is important to note that voters’ lists support democratic principles by fostering political equality for all citizens and actively promoting the inclusion of eligible voters in the election process. During elections preparation differences may arise over how much effort election management authorities would require to register voters from groups that historically have lower-than-average levels of registration and voter turnout. Normally, these minority groups include: women, the aged, persons that are physically challenged, the homeless, voters in hospitals, youth and first time voters, and the poor. In some developed countries, system is in place through which focused and targeted registration campaigns can be conducted in order to increase the participation of these groups. Am yet to see such mechanism been put in place by the National Electoral Commission in Sierra Leone.

COMPLIANCE OF MULTIPARTY ELECTIONS ALLOW PEOPLES AND COMMUNITIES TO FULLY DEVELOP

It is my opinion that the respect and compliance of multiparty elections allow peoples and communities to fully develop. Essentially the conducts of multiparty election isa positive steps towards building democracy, having respect for human rights and the rule of law. One of the major characteristics of multiparty elections is that it presents alternatives, which enables a choice to be made by electorates between one set of leaders and another. But generally, elections provide a forum for holding politicians accountable for their policies and or their actions. These legitimise the will of the people and ensure that elections act as an agent of social communication and change. It is my view that without a transparent, credible, participatory and legally recognized electoral process, there would be challenges with regards acceptance of result and this eventually will lead to social disorder which will breed underdevelopment in society. That is why it is very important for those in election administration to maintain integrity and follow procedural due process of the law.

 

Editorial

2016 Global Peace Conference to be held in Freetown---as IPRA 50th Birthday confab ends in Istanbul

 

The 26th biennal conference of the Internatonal Peace Research Association (IPRA) is billed to take place in  Freetown, Sierra Leone in November 2016, marking the second time Africa has hosted the conference since the founding of IPRA in 1964. This was announced following the re-election of  the two IPRA Secretaries-general, Dr Ibrahim Seaga Shaw (pictured) and Dr Nesrin Kenar, who co-ordinated the 25th  IPRA conference in Turkey,  at the organisation’s administrative meeting on August 14 during the 25th  IPRA  conference in Istanbul  to serve a second term of two years.

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ACC CAPACITATES SIERRA LEONE COMMERCIAL BANK STAFF ON ANTI-BRIBERY AND ANTI-CORRUPTION ISSUES

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) on the request of the Management of the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank (SLCB) on Thursday 20th July, 2017 commenced anti- bribery and anti-corruption training with staff of the Bank.

The training which was held in the Bank's Conference Room 9th Floor, Christian Smith Building 29/31 Siaka Stevens Street, Freetown attracted over twenty members of the Executive Management.

Addressing colleagues, the Managing Director, SLCB, Idrissa Aloma Kamara disclosed that the Bank has integrated into the Bank's operations anti-corruption measures, such as the development of anti-corruption policy, anti-graft messages inscribed on Bank Statements and sensitization of staff on the dangers of corruption. With all these, the MD stated, it is the view of the Bank that the ACC which is the statutory body responsible for the campaign against corruption be brought in, to provide awareness training on anti-bribery issues for an efficient and effective banking system.

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Media News

Freedom of Expression Violations Rise Sharply in West Africa

The incidents of freedom of expression rights violations in West Africa more than tripled in the first quarter (January-March) of 2017.

Over the three-month period, a total of 47 violations were recorded as against 14 violations for the last quarter (October-December) of 2016. The violations recorded in the quarter under review range from arrests and detentions to physical attacks, online violations, shutdown of media houses, censorship, seizure and destruction of property and killings. The 47 violations occurred in 10 out of the 16 countries in West Africa.

These findings are contained in the latest edition of the West Africa Freedom of Expression Monitor, a quarterly report by the MFWA which analyses and highlights freedom of expression developments in the sub-region.

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Commentary

REVIEWING THE JUNE 2017 ECOWAS SUMMIT

A PASSIONATE LETTER TO HIS EXCELLENCY THE PRESIDENT:  44TH EDITION

REVIEWING THE JUNE 2017 ECOWAS SUMMIT
 Your Excellency Sir,
 It’s been six months since I subscribed to my usual publications of this piece. And this is primarily because I have been out of the country for the entire period, and as such would not normally objectively tender a subscription. I do apologize to my readers for this. So having being in Monrovia, Liberia for the recently concluded ECOWAS Summit, I would like to do some analysis on such a historic august body and gathering of this sub-Saharan/West African region.
 
In resume, among other crucial achievements, ECOWAS, through its military apparatus, ECOMOG, played very sacrificial and invaluable roles in bringing peace, security and democratic governance to both Sierra Leone and Liberia during their past civil wars, and most recently ensuring that the Gambian people’s democratic change of government from the notorious dictatorial twenty seven years regime of Yaya Jarmeh, to the current government of President Adama Barrow, through their tactical robust intervention, overseen by President Helen JohnsonSirleaf of Liberia and other ECOWAS Presidents/actors, was enforced. Furthermore, ECOWAS has also spearheaded the enactment of several socio-political, advocacy and economic treaties in the sub region.
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View Point

WHY SIERRA LEONEANS HATE PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT

Honestly speaking Sierra Leoneans are well known for their hospitality all over the world, especially in Africa. But ironically many of them hate each other. But they love foreigners. They have high respect for strangers. But unfortunately they do not have respect among themselves. You can attest this to what is happening in the social media. Where they are showing their pull him down (PhD) syndrome. By castigating their compatriots unnecessarily. Some of them just because of jealousy and envious evil spirit they possess. They prefer to promote foreigners than their own brothers and sisters both in and out of the country.

Day in day out they are insulting each other.They are using all sorts of vulgar languages against each other. And even their own highly respected president in the world, President Ernest Bai Koroma they are insulting him openly. Therefore, it is an open secret that many Sierra Leoneans are not well cultured.

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‘We want to benefit from the Legal Aid Board’s Legal Empowerment Programme because there is an urgent need for one in the community,’ Ms. Browne told the Executive Director of the Board, Ms. Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles on the phone. ‘The situation is desperate. I am afraid if you do not come in now the situation could spiral out of control.’

The call follows series of referral of victims of domestic violence to the Legal Aid Board office in Freetown. The latest victim sent to the Board is one Baindu who was battered by her boyfriend Borbor Abu in the presence of their one year old son.

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Other beneficiaries include the WAN POT Comedians, members of the National Youth Coalition and six senior officers of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF). The latter includes the highest ranking female military officer, Brigadier Kestoria Kabia and the Director of Gender and Equal Opportunities at the Ministry of Defence Col. Tucker.

The training is aimed at equipping staff and partners with the requisite skills and techniques required for effective and efficient ADR. Moreover, the trainees should be able to use ADR as an alternative to litigation and using effective skill of arbitration, mediation, negotiation and active listening. 

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Development

30 Staff of the Ministry of Finance & Economic Development will go China for Seminar on Economic Planning

Thirty (30) staff of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development will depart the shore of Freetown to China on 14th August 2017. The purpose of their trip is to attend a seminar on Medium and Long-Term Economic planning for Sierra Leone. The National Development and Reform Commission of China will organize the seminar from 16th August to 7th September 2017 in the capital city of Beijing, People’s Republic of China.

The Economic and Commercial Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in Freetown, Mr. Shen Xiaokai met with the 30 participants at the Conference Room of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MOFED) on 2rd August 2017. In his remarks he told the participants that in December 2016, His Excellency the President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma and the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mr. Momodu Kargbo visited China, where they had high level bilateral meetings with Chinese Government Officials. 

He said this seminar is as a result of those meetings. “When China makes a commitment, China will fulfil it” he reiterated. He said The Ministry of Finance is one of the most important ministries in this country, therefore this seminar was designed specifically to meet the needs of the ministry.

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Politics

News from China, June 28th: Youth Affairs Minister addresses 2017 Ministerial Workshop on International Cooperation in Capacity Development in Beijing, China
Sierra Leone’s Minister of Youth Affairs has said, the 2017 Ministerial Workshop on International Cooperation in Capacity Development hosted by the Chinese government should help enhance the ties of friendship and foster the wheels of bilateral cooperation between the two nations and particularly strengthen cooperation in the field of human resource development.
 
Hon. Bai Mamoud Bangura spoke on Wednesday, 28th June, 2017, at the start of the week long Ministerial Workshop on International Cooperation, which has brought together participants from various countries, including eight (8) from Sierra Leone.
 
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