By Abubakarr Harding
At the Hockey Field on Wilberforce in Freetown, on the 24th June, 2023, the voting process was going on smoothly, despite the usual small hitches that were taking place from one Polling Centre to the other. At some minutes after 11:00, the First Family including His Excellency, the President Rtd Brig. Julius Maada Bio and the First Lady Her Excellency, Dr. Fatima Bio arrived to cast their votes.
After casting their votes, the President in a snap interview with the Media, stated that so far from what he has seen and heard so far he is somehow satisfied with the electoral process saying he has been in touch
with other districts, towns and centers.
He acknowledged the fact that there are certain concerns raised by voters but underscored how every electoral process can experience minor setbacks maintaining that patience must be exercised
The President emphasized the significance of the electorates participating in the electoral process stating that determines the future of the country, the well-being of its people and the prospects for their children.
He, however, expressed confidence that everything will work out smoothly adding that he has no significant concerns regarding the overall voting procedure.
“Go out and vote! It is your constitutional right. Today, you’re choosing your Mayor, Members of Parliament, Councillors, and President. So go out and vote peacefully,” President Bio concluded, urging all eligible voters to exercise their democratic rights.
Hours later, at about 1:15PM, the main opposition APC Presidential Flagbearer, Dr Samura Kamara, turned up with his entourage at the MAFA Field Polling Centre located at Regent Road, Lumley in the West End of Freetown to also cast his vote.
After casting his vote he was engaged by the Press during which time he pointed out that from what he has heard and seen so far he is not complaining but raising concern.
He expressed disappointment over the delayed commencement of the polls and the poor organization observed at various polling stations, particularly the one where he cast his vote. He said there is no need for verification to take place on Polling Day citing neighbouring Liberia, where he said names are exhibited way ahead Polling Day. Samura Kamara said those concerns raised border on the credibility of the ECSL. He said that institution was not instituted to serve Presidential Candidates or politicians but rather the people of this country. He said there have been reports of Ballot boxes not arriving earlier at Polling Stations, in some cases there are incomplete electoral materials and ballot stuffing. Samura Kamara said such must stop.
He furthered that when a Presidential aspirant wins genuinely then he can safely and freely serve with an open conscience. The main opposition contender emphasized the will of the people to gain precedence over any other thing.
He said despite those challenges he remains confident in his prospects for winning the elections.
In a statement, he said, “If they were not afraid of me, or if they were confident of winning the elections, they wouldn’t have been playing all these games.”
He further urged the ECSL to ensure that all eligible voters have the opportunity to cast their votes, even if it requires extending the voting period by an additional two days.
The concerns raised by the opposition leader have generated growing discussions relating to the fairness and transparency of the ongoing electoral process and while attention will be shifted to the announcement of the final results, ECSL will have to provide answers.