CSO Working Group Submit Reports on Election Observations to ECSL, Calls for Reforms

By Amin Kef (Ranger)

The CSO Working Group on Elections and Human Rights on July 13th, 2023,  fulfilled its electoral mandate by submitting both its Activity and Election Observation reports to the Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone (ECSL). The reports provide a comprehensive overview of the group’s efforts before, during, and after the June 2023 multi-tier elections in Sierra Leone.

The submission ceremony took place on July 10th, 2023, at the ECSL headquarters in Tower Hill, Freetown, and was attended by members of the CSO Working Group on Elections and Human Rights.

Rashid Dumbuya Esq, the National Coordinator of the CSO Working Group, expressed gratitude to the ECSL for their support in educating the people of Sierra Leone about the proportional representation (PR) system and the electioneering process. Despite limited funding, Dumbuya highlighted the group’s dedication to reaching out to vulnerable communities and raising awareness about the PR system and voting procedures.

Dumbuya emphasized the importance of ECSL carefully considering the findings and recommendations outlined in the Election Observation report. He called for legal and regulatory reforms to enhance the electioneering process in Sierra Leone. The CSO Working Group recommends the following reforms:

Increase Transparency: The ECSL should enhance transparency throughout the election process, especially during the counting, tallying, and computation phases. Transparent procedures build public trust in the electoral system.

Strengthen Voter Education: Further efforts should be made to educate voters, particularly in vulnerable communities, about the PR system and the electioneering process. This will ensure a better-informed electorate and promote meaningful participation.

Enhance Election Monitoring: The ECSL should improve its mechanisms for monitoring and observing elections, ensuring comprehensive coverage and effective oversight.

Ensure Electoral Security: It is crucial to address and prevent incidents of violence and reprisals against political party supporters. Strengthening security measures during the electoral period will help maintain peace and order.

Foster Collaboration: Continued collaboration between the CSO Working Group and the ECSL is essential for the successful conduct of free, fair, and credible elections in Sierra Leone. Joint efforts can strengthen the electoral process and ensure a level playing field for all participants.

Allocate Sufficient Resources: Adequate funding and resources should be allocated to the ECSL to support their work in organizing and administering elections effectively. This includes voter education campaigns, training programs, and logistical arrangements.

Implement Reforms:
The Government, in partnership with relevant stakeholders, should prioritize the implementation of legal, institutional, and policy reforms based on the recommendations provided in the Election Observation report. These reforms will contribute to the continuous improvement of the electoral system.

Albert Massaquoi, Director of Media, Communications, and External Relations, received the reports on behalf of the Commissioners and staff of the ECSL. Massaquoi commended the CSO Working Group for their unwavering efforts in supporting the Commission’s work and assured them that the findings and recommendations would be thoroughly examined. Massaquoi encouraged continued collaboration between the Working Group and ECSL to ensure the conduct of free, fair, and credible elections in Sierra Leone.

The CSO Working Group was called upon on January 30th, 2023, to assist with public education, sensitization, and election observation during the June 2023 multi-tier elections. At the time of report submission, the Working Group consisted of approximately 25 independent Civil Society Organizations.

The objectives of the Working Group encompass monitoring and ensuring free, fair, and transparent elections, raising awareness about elections and electoral processes, advocating for increased support to the ECSL and other Elections Management Bodies, conducting observation and reporting on elections and human rights, and making recommendations for legal, institutional, and policy reforms related to elections management in Sierra Leone.

Throughout the election period, the CSO Working Group engaged in various activities, including voter education seminars for university students, stakeholder training on the PR system, the development of informative media content, media engagement, community outreach, non-violence campaigns, election day observation, and post-election engagement on preventing violence and reprisals against political party supporters.

The CSO Working Group extends its profound gratitude to the Sierra Leonean Government, the ECSL, election management bodies, the Sierra Leone Police, political parties, civil society organizations, the media, and all Sierra Leonean citizens for their contributions to a peaceful and non-violent 2023 multi-tier election.

While acknowledging the relatively peaceful electoral environment, the Working Group expressed disappointment in the lack of transparency observed during the counting, tallying, and computation phases of the election process conducted by the ECSL. The Group hopes that ECSL will accept the recommendations outlined in the observation report to improve the conduct of public elections in Sierra Leone in the future.

The CSO Working Group would like to extend a special thanks to all its members for their selfless dedication to the nation.


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