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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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Business News

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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News - Press Release

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Speaking on the effects of bribery and petty corruption, Samuel Marah noted that, the practice of bribery has overtly affected our justice system, enforcement of the rule of law and quality service delivery to the people of Sierra Leone which he said to tackle needs collective and collaborative effort.        

Mr. Marah said, the Pay No Bribe (PNB) campaign, which is the Commission's flagship project, is a data capturing tool, that shows trends of bribery in  five piloted   MDAs ( Health, Education, SLP , SALWACO and EDSA ) for informed decision making on the trends of bribery and to increase service delivery in the public sector institutions. He stressed  that, PNB reporting platform  is established by the ACC and its partners to empower citizens to anonymously report incidents of bribery and petty corruption by calling 515 free on all networks, visit the PNB website; www.pnb.gov.sl, or on the mobile application in Krio, Temne and Mende to make their complaints. Mr Marah implored his audience to join the campaign which he said is a national call to service.

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Society -Local News

HRCSL presents detention monitoring outcomes to stakeholders
The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone(HRCSL) on Wednesday July 26th, 2017 at their headquarters at NEC Building  engaged relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies on the outcome of their monitoring of detention facilities and other social services.
 
The monitoring was carried out between January and April at the prisons, police cells, remand homes and probation facilities across the country.
 
The HRCSL Act No.9 of 2004 in section 7 (2)(f) requires the Commission to monitor and document human rights violations in Sierra Leone and section 9(1) gives the Commission powers to authorize persons whom they think are capable to act on their behalf, in order to access all government offices, facilities and places of detention including prisons, police cells, remand homes and probation facilities.
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Development

China-Aid Agricultural Technical Cooperation Project hand over Agriculture Materials to the Ministry of Agriculture

On  21st July ,2017 at a handing over ceremony held at Ogoo Farm in Freetown, China-Aid Agricultural Technical Cooperation Project Team handed agricultural materials to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS). 

The items include seed rice, maize, agro chemicals, fertilizer, pesticides and power tillers for farmers within the western area district. Dignitaries present included The Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Food security Prof. Monty Jones and his entourage ,  Mr Shen Xiaokai, the Economic and Commercial Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in Sierra Leone, the District agricultural officer, the Chinese technical team, National federation of farmers Sierra Leone representative and lot of farmers in the western Area.

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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.
 
According to minister Bangura, in line with the spirit of friendship and cooperation, the event could serve as an opportunity to jointly define new strategic directions in Sierra Leone’s ties with China and in opening up another episode of friendship and cooperation between the two.
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