By Millicent Senava Mannah
The National Elections Watch (NEW), a coalition of Civic and Non-Governmental Organizations, has commenced a three day Post-Election Reflection Meeting on the theme, “Pathways for Impactful Democracy and Electoral Reform in Sierra Leone”. This took place on the 16th November, 2023, at Shangri La on Aberdeen Beach Road in Freetown.
Giving the welcome address, the Executive Director, Marcella Samba-Sesay, intimated that the meeting was convened to reflect on the 2023 elections and how it is customary to NEW after every electoral circle, the entire team from across the country meets to discuss what went well, what did not go so well and how what is their clinical findings.
She furthered that it is also to give their recommendations for future elections noting that democracy is a journey not a destination and how they will be discussing the entire electioneering process right from the registration, selection of candidates amongst others, right on to the polling day.
According to her, they spelled out that, elections is a process and not an outcome continuing that they will also look at their internal processes as well, on how to run the coalition and make it stronger.
“I must be hastened to say that the journey of post-conflict democracy in Sierra Leone cannot be written without the mentioning of the National Elections Watch,” Marcella Samba-Sesay stated with pride.
She furthered that NEW has accompanied post-conflict reconstruction and democracy building throughout the years and how it was established in 2022.
According to her, it is the most vibrant coalition in the country, and how a number of coalitions were shut down because they could not stand the test of time.
The European Union representative commended NEW for their work in observing the elections stating how civil society organizations are a strong pillar in upholding democracy.
She maintained that they are key actors of development and how they are responsible for holding the Government accountable as well as other institutions.
The Yiaga Africa Program Director ,Cynthia Mbamalu, said what they are doing as observers is they go out to the field without any level of partisanship, but how they focus on the process to identify what the issues are to provide accurate information to the citizens. According to her their major responsibility are the citizens in their respective countries.
Mawusi Dumenu, Program Officer International IDEA applauded NEW for their tenacity and resilience during the elections continuing that the coalition is one of the vibrant civil society organizations in the country and how they should keep up the good work.
The opening was climaxed by various sessions and presentations.