Secretary General of the association, Augusta James Teima, told a press conference at the Political Parties’ Registration Commission, PPRC’s secretariat in Freetown that: “We have briefed the leadership of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) on our concerns and reservations. We also noted that during our visits to the aforementioned districts we found out that some registration centers were far away from residence of the people.”
She added that people had to travel long distances which had seriously affected the aged, pregnant women and the physically challenged, noting that: “during the evaluation exercise we embarked on a robust campaign aimed at sensitising and mobilising women to effectively participate in the ongoing civil and voter registration processes.”
She informed the media, representatives from various political parties and officials of regulatory body that they had collaborated with the PPRC and supported the West Minister Foundation for Democracy to complete a seven-day sensitisation on the ongoing civil and voter registration process in the country.
According to the association’s scribe, Teima, they had evaluated, monitored and thoroughly assessed the civil and voter registration process in nine districts namely Port Loko, Bombali, Tonkolili, Kenema, Bo, Bonthe, Moyamba and Pujehun districts.
The APPWA scribe also highlighted issues using a breakdown of voter registration equipment, citing the biometric registration equipment as having failed to register people sometimes while registration forms were sometimes inadequate for a day’s registration process.
Teima further disclosed that her association observed that the voter education process was not well understood, as some people were of the notion that their personal documents, used as proofs, were to be presented to the register. They also recorded the low level of turn-out of people coming out to register in certain areas, she added.
“My association also visited the recent Njala University student demonstration on 23 March 2017, which adversely affected the registration process in the southern city of Bo,” she noted, adding that to that end they had recommended that NEC look into issues of time spent on each case and ascertain whether it would be able to meet the set target for the completion of the process.
“A cut off number for the day in each centre be established early and the rest given a chit to continue early the next day and also people accredited with declaring non document proofs of identity be treated with respect and their declarations accepted,” Teima noted.
She further called on the NEC to make possible some means of transportation so that the aged and disabled could reach centers that were placed far away from them, stressing that since there was lesser voter education, which resulted in low turnout, there should be ongoing robust sensitization until the end of the registration exercise.
In her opening address, Mediation and Programme Manager at PPRC, Josephine Lebbie, said that APPWA was established in 2007 and since then it had enjoyed a cordial and fruitful working relationship with her commission.
She also said that organisation had implemented several policies and programmes intended to bring women on board Sierra Leone’s political landscape, noting that the association had played commendable roles in ensuring women representation in public and state institution. She assured of her commission’s continued to support towards ensuring that women participation in all spheres of the country’s socioeconomic and political arraignments were realised.