By Millicent Senava Mannah
The Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone (ECSL) in partnership with International IDEA and with support from the European Union and GIZ on the 22nd September, 2022, held a one-day Electoral Risk Management Stakeholders Workshop for staff, State agencies, religious leaders, CSOs and media advocacy groups working on observation and conflict prevention at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Freetown.
The overall objective of the stakeholders’ workshop was to raise awareness on electoral risks and promote effective inter-agency collaboration in the electoral process ahead of the 2023 elections and for ECSL and other relevant institutions to be able to identify the roadmap for addressing electoral risks in Sierra Leone.
In his statement, the Chief Electoral Commissioner and Chairman of ECSL, Mohamed Kenewui Konneh, applauded International IDEA for putting together the Risk Management tool.
He said due to the outbreak of COVID-19, ECSL and International IDEA had their first meeting via Video Conference on the 28th January 2021 on the need for ECSL to adopt the Electoral Risk Management tools.
The Chief Electoral Commissioner revealed that after holding other virtual meetings, Olufunto Akinduro, the Regional Thematic Lead on Elections of International IDEA proposed to have a face-to-face session with the Commissioner and Management.
He stated that it was agreed that International IDEA must provide the Electoral Risk Management tools.
Mohamed Konneh furthered that the International IDEA’s most recent Global State of Democracy report recognizes that Sierra Leone continues to be a stable emerging democracy.
“As the electoral cycle in Sierra Leone is fast unfolding in a fluid context, the Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone (ECSL) is positioning itself early enough in the process to identify and respond to various electoral risks throughout different phases of the electoral cycle,” the Chief Electoral Commissioner highlighted.
He affirmed that the Commission is undertaking efforts to strengthen institutional capacity to manage electoral risks in order to ensure that the forthcoming elections are credible and peaceful.
The ECSL Chairman disclosed that International IDEA has developed the Electoral Risk Management Tool (ERMTool) to support Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs) that seek to adopt or improve their risk management processes.
He disclosed that the Commission has decided to deploy the tool ahead of the 2023 elections adding that the tool is been hosted by the Research, Monitoring and Evaluation Department of the Commission and supported by the IT Department.
Mohamed Kenewui Konneh revealed that International IDEA has conducted a remote technical training as a first step in the development of an electoral risk management project. He continued that in November 2021, ECSL and International IDEA co-hosted a context overview workshop that brought together key electoral stakeholders to map out electoral risks ahead of the 2023 elections.
Serena Bertiana, EU Delegation Team Leader on Governance and Relations with Civil Society Organizations stated that the Electoral Risk Management Tool is an important step towards strengthening electoral processes for maximum performance. She maintained that they are pleased to be able to contribute to the strategic priorities of the Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone.
A representative of the German Embassy said that elections all over the world are sometimes marred by diverse risks, continuing that the Electoral Risk Management Tool is very important to have free and fair elections.
In her statement, Olufunto Akinduro, Regional Thematic Lead on Elections-International IDEA commended the ECSL for hosting them. She revealed that International IDEA is a family and ECSL has now become part of the family.
She disclosed that the goal of her organization is to promote democracy as a human aspiration across the world furthering that they achieve such through three thematic areas: electoral processes, constitution building processes and inclusion of donors.
Different sessions held on Risk Management climaxed the workshop.