Following violence clashes that erupted in the just concluded Bye Election in Ward 196,Constituency 58, Tonko Limba Chiefdom in Kambia district last Saturday 30 September, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) has annulled the election.
The cancellation was supported by National Election Watch (NEW), an acceptable local election observer in Sierra Leone.
According to NEW, the elections were marred by ‘Gross Intimidation, Thuggery and Excessive Violence.’
“The security of election staff and materials, observers and peaceful voters was seriously threatened by the activities of supporters of the Sierra Leone Peoples’ Party (SLPP) and the All Peoples Congress (APC) party who were throwing invectives and missiles at each other spilling over to election staff, observers and voters in the vicinity of polling center,” NEW Stated.
They went further that the presence of the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) could not contain the violence resulting in the death of a 14 year old boy and damage to election materials.
“The intimidation and violence were largely due to the presence of senior political party operatives and transporting of large number of party supporters from other parts of the country into Ward 196.
That a vehicle registration number AFU466 with an NGO number plate was seen carrying SLPP supporters who were the most aggressive perpetrators of violence and intimidated both NEC staff and observers.
That the women’s wing leader of the SLPP and the Resident Minister North/West Province were seen transporting people mostly youths that were very aggressive and violent.
“Present in the ward on the side of SLPP also was Hon. Manso Dumbuya and all three entered the demarcated polling center area against the NEC regulation of people qualified to enter polling centers,” NEW maintained
That Ambassador Petito Koroma of the APC was also seen with a team of supporters moving from center to center and that his presence also sparked chaos between supporters of the two political parties.
“Present also were Dr. Denis Bright and Dr. Alusine Fofanah and a team from National Grand Coalition (NGC) political party both NGC party senior officials also entered the polling center demarcated areas; however, NEW observed that Dr. Denis Bright and Dr. Alusine Fofanah of the NGC comported themselves and participated in discussions to resolve problems,” the release added.
NEW said that they believed that if a stop is put on the transportation of people from other parts of the country into the election locality, violence will be minimized around elections.
“NEW notes that this is the first time in our recent democratic history that NEC had to cancel an entire election putting this as the highest risk to democracy in Sierra Leone”, NEW Maintained.
Both the APC and the SLPP are splitting blames as to who was responsible for the violence and who started first.