By Zacharia Jalloh, Strategic Communications Unit, MIC
The Chief Minister Honourable Jacob Jusu Saffa on Wednesday September 8, 2021, chaired an inaugural Electoral Steering Committee meeting at the conference room of the New Brookfields Hotel.
The government of Sierra Leone in collaboration with development partners has been supporting national multi-party elections since 1996. Considering that the new electoral cycle (2020-2024) has started and in view of the 2023 elections, it was proposed that, a Multi- stakeholder Election Steering Committees is established, to support planning and give technical backstopping to the entire electoral process for the new electoral cycle.
In October 2020, the cabinet of the Government of Sierra Leone approved the establishment of two separate committees on elections. As a result, the Electoral Reform Steering Committee and the Electoral Financing Steering Committee were created.
At the inaugural meeting today Wednesday September 8, the Chief Minister who is the Chair of the Electoral Reform Steering Committee outlined the Terms of Reference of the committee.
He explained that the committee is to facilitate electoral reforms agenda in Sierra Leone, ensure coordination among various electoral stakeholders, monitor preparedness of Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs) to conduct national-level elections and to also monitor management of significant electoral risks i.e election security, election justice system and elections operations. The Terms of Reference was endorsed by members of the committee.
Chief Minister Honourable Jacob Jusu Saffa went on to say that the committee is composed of various stakeholders from government, civil society, security sector and development partners.
He briefly shed light on the Electoral Financing Steering Committee which according to him will facilitate resource mobilization for elections, review and support the election financing requirements of EMBs, approve electoral budget (when necessary) and will receive and consider financial reports from EMBs and funding partners.
The Minister of Finance, Minister of Planning and Economic Development, NEC and representatives from the Office of the President are all components of the committee.
Civil Society representatives (NEW, CARL, IGR and ECPMG), development partners and other stakeholders made suggestions to the Steering Committee Chair to ensure more inclusivity in the Electoral Financing Steering Committee.
The Director of Media and External Relations at the National Electoral Commission (NEC) Albert Massaquoi outlined the many recommendations made by Election Observer Missions (EOM) and disclosed that these recommendations have been clustered into 6 groups which include Election Funding, Role of the Media in Election, Electoral Security, Electoral and Political Process, Electoral Offenses and Petitions and Electoral Legal Reforms and Processes.
The committee meetings will be initially held every quarter and the frequency of the meetings will then be determined by the committee, accordingly.