Sierra Leone
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Sierra Leone’s soldiers and Muslim Pilgrims go to the polls ahead of June 24 elections causing a new political row

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 16 June 2023:

A new political row has broken in Sierra Leone,  after the Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone (ECSL) announced in a public notice that all security forces  assigned to supervise the elections on June 24th, as well as Sierra Leonean Pilgrims leaving for Mecca, were to cast their votes yesterday 15th June 2023. Presidential and General elections are not due until 24th June. (Photo above: Chief Electoral Commissioner – Mohamed Konneh).

The ECSL says it has the constitutional mandate and power to set and announce dates for elections as and when it sees fit.

But writing in a statement published on Wednesday 14th June, the main opposition APC said that it was not consulted by the ECSL about the early elections and threatened to have nothing to do with the voting.

Then yesterday evening, the ECSL published another notice confirming that those early elections were held, including   the names of political parties that sent agents to polling stations to observe and monitor the voting. 

The National Election Watch (NEW) has also weighed in with its criticism of the ECSL, saying that whiles the constitution gives ECSL the mandate to set and hold elections, it must give plenty of notice, and make voter register available to all political parties.

This failure of the ECSL has given further fuel to those attacking and calling on the Chief Electoral Commissioner – Mohamed Konneh to resign or be sacked. Many in Sierra Leone are accusing Konneh of incompetence and a supporter of the ruling SLPP.

The presidential candidate of the opposition APC – Dr Samura Kamara on Wednesday, gave the Chief Electoral Commissioner 72 hours to resign, otherwise the party will not accept the outcome of the elections.

But a defiant Chief Electoral Commissioner said yesterday that neither he nor his fellow commissioners will resign from office. “we are not resigning,” he said emphatically at a press conference, as relationship between the opposition APC and the ECSL and ruling SLPP continues to breakdown rapidly and dangerously ahead of presidential and general elections taking place in eight days time.