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High Rate of Void Votes in 6 By-elections…ECSL expresses concerns

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High Rate of Void Votes in 6 By-elections…ECSL expresses concerns

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The Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone (ECSL) on Saturday 25th June 2022 conducted six by-elections in Constituency 056 Tonkolili district; Ward 031, Kenema district; Ward 138, Falaba district; Ward 252, Port Loko district; and Wards 212 and 216 in Karene district.

National Election Watch (NEW) observed all six by-elections noting that there was no major violence but a very high rate of invalid votes across all election localities.

The six by-elections registered a total of 1,259 invalid votes. These by-elections were as a result of vacancies due to various reasons in the constituency and five wards.

In constituency 056, the Member of Parliament representing the constituency contested a Paramount Chieftaincy Election in one of the chiefdoms (Sambaia Bendugu chiefdom) in the constituency and won thereby losing his seat in Parliament.

In Ward 216 in Karene district, long absence of the substantive Councillor accounted for the vacancy. In Wards 031 in Kenema, 138 in Falaba, 212 in Karene and 252 in Port Loko districts, were all as a result of deaths of the substantive councillors.

NEW’s observation of the six bye-elections was in conformity with provisions in the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone, the Public Elections Act 2012 and International, Regional and Sub Regional instruments guiding election observation to contribute to the conduct of credible free and fair elections.

In addition, NEW further deployed teams of supervisors and roving observers in all election locations to support the stationed observers as part of their problem-solving mechanism by promptly moving information about incidents from the polling stations to the relevant authorities for timely intervention to avoid such incidents adversely affecting the outcome of the electoral process.

NEW observed the entire activities in the conduct of the six by-elections including a pre-election assessment of the elections environment and the entire Election Day processes of opening of polls, closing, reconciliation and counting, and the following day the tallying and announcement of the provisional results.

NEW notes the professional and efficient manner in which the ECSL conducted all six bye-elections and the presence of very senior members of the Commission including the Chief Electoral Commissioner who doubles as the Chairman of the Commission, Commissioner for Eastern Region and the newly appointed Commissioner for Northern Region.

NEW equally notes the visible presence of both the Sierra Leone Police and personnel of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) and their professional conduct in maintaining peace and order but yet not obstructing or interfering in the elections process.

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