Concord Times (Freetown)

Sierra Leone: NEC Goes to Work for 2017

Commissioners and staff of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) have thoroughly reviewed their work in the 2012 electioneering process with a view to improving on the challenges for future elections.

The post-elections retreat at the commission's headquarter in Freetown last Thursday brought together staff members from across the country, who shared their experiences on what was done right, what went wrong and how they can be improved upon. Speaking at the opening ceremony, NEC Chairperson Dr. Christiana Thorpe stated that the retreat also signalled the commencement of preparations for the 2017 elections.She thanked members of staff and partners for the important role they played in the successful conduct of the November 17, 2012 multi- elections.

"This retreat is to look at what we did in the 2012 elections and see how we can improve on it," noted the Chief Electoral Commissioner. "The preparations for the 2017 elections officially start today. We started well and we want to ensure that we end well. Let me thank all of you for the part you played in the electioneering process."

A representative from the Office of National Security (ONS), Mohamed Gibril Toure, expressed concern over the post-election security challenges, citing the acceptance of the outcome of the elections by losing candidates/parties, the winner takes all syndrome and political polarization, among others.

However, Toure acknowledged the collective efforts of the Elections Management Bodies (EMBs), political parties, the security sector and all Sierra Leoneans for the peaceful outcome of the 2012 polls.

"We urge NEC to continue engaging political parties on a regular basis and give more publicity to the Public Elections Act of 2012 either through focus group or town hall meetings," he said. The ONS representative summed up by encouraging other democratic institutions like the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) and the National Commission for Democracy (NCD) to develop and implement programmes aimed at addressing the post-elections security concerns to prevent a repetition of such in the 2016 local council and 2017 presidential and parliamentary elections.

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