State House, Freetown, Tuesday 8 June 2021 - Sierra Leone's Chief Electoral Commissioner and Chairman of the National Electoral Commission, NEC, has presented their annual report for 2020 and strategic plan for 2020-2024 to His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio, citing reforms that have taken place in recent times.
The Commissioner, Mohamed Konneh, said he was happy to present their annual report and strategic plan as required by law. He further stated that the 2020 report reflected a significant milestone in the evolution of NEC because it provided not only an outlook of the year under review but also created a bridge between the 2015-2019 and the 2020-2024 electoral cycle.
"In 2020, NEC conducted 11 elections in a violence-free environment across the country, including parliamentary, local councils, village heads and paramount chieftaincy elections," he noted.
He further stated that the many reforms that recently took place at NEC were generally aimed at transforming the institution by creating opportunities for personnel professional growth on a valid career path and efficient delivery of electoral management services to the highest order of diligence. He added that since 2018 NEC had continued to receive support from international partners and the government of Sierra Leone to undertake key activities.
Earlier, Chief Minister Jacob Jusu Saffa recalled that the purpose of every electoral cycle was to provide plans and strategies that would guide the entire electoral processes in the country, saying that the strategic plan would provide the right atmosphere for the conduct of free, fair and credible elections.
In his remarks, President Julius Maada Bio said he wanted to particularly focus on Strategic Pillar 8 of NEC, which dealt with inclusion, participation, and equity, adding that his government had approached that pillar from a rights perspective.
"... that every citizen has an equal and inalienable right to fully participate in political life, to fully participate in political debate, to be consulted, to vote, and to be voted for. Gender, sexuality, disability, age, youth, levels of literacy must not be hindrances. They must be fully accounted for in inclusive democratic elections at all levels. The views and voices of every citizen must matter on how to move this nation forward. My Government will therefore work with all stakeholders and development partners in ensuring that the future of elections in Sierra Leone is fully inclusive," he assured.
He recalled that two weeks ago, Rosemary DiCarlo, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, who is also the UN Focal Point for Electoral Assistance Matters, informed his government of their readiness to provide technical assistance to NEC for the upcoming local, parliamentary, and presidential elections.
While particularly thanking the European Union for their support and acknowledging the work of the Elections Conflict Prevention and Mediation Group, President Bio also noted the remarkable progress the Commission had made in reviewing the 2015-2019 strategic plan, reflecting on the implementation of that plan, and proposing effective measures to address gaps and other perceived areas of improvement.