The ECSL, through the Political Parties Liaison Commitment (PPLC) on Sunday, 21st May 2023 held an engagement with Electoral Management Bodies and other relevant stakeholders and declared Tuesday, 23rd May 2023 as the official date for the commencement of campaigns.
The ECSL also used the opportunity to update national and international partners and other EMBs on how fully prepared the ECSL is for the conduct of the 2023 Elections. The ECSL leadership also assured the public that in spite of the numerous threats on the Commission’s staff being received through social media postings on a daily basis, the Commission remains committed to conducting free, fair and credible elections and will not be cowed by these vile threats being paraded by social media miscreants.
Making his contribution, the Inspector General of Police (IGP); Mr. William Fayia Sellu, informed the meeting that the SLP has been involved in the electoral process right from the start and will continue to provide adequate security as this forms part of SLP’s core functions. The IGP further assured the public that the SLP is fully positioned to manage the security aspect for the upcoming elections and is therefore supporting the ECSL.
The National Security Coordinator, Office of National Security, Mr. Abdulai Caulker stated that the security sector will provide the enabling and conducive environment for the peaceful conduct of the June 2023 multi-tier elections. The NSCoord stated that the National Security Council Coordinating Group (NSCCG), as part of its preparedness, has activated the Integrated Elections Security Planning Committee (IESPC) to provide administration and coordination of the security of the upcoming elections.
Consistent with its mandate, the IESPC conducted a nationwide District Risk Mapping and Threat Assessment in all 16 electoral districts. This activity led to the development of three key election security documents, viz à vis, an Elections Security Strategy, a Communications Strategy and a Training Manual. The three documents are currently being rolled out through training of trainer’s activities of security forces on election security, as well as the provision of the pocket manual to serve as a quick reference guide for all field personnel.
In addition, the NSCoord stated that the security sector seeks to have a dialogue with all Political Parties especially on issues relating to political intolerance, hate speech, regionalism, tribalism, misuse of social media, use of marshals etc. He assured that the security sector is fully prepared for any eventuality. He, therefore, admonished all Political Parties to desist from using marshals as the SLP will provide adequate security for all Political leaders.
On the misuse of drugs by youths during campaigns, the NSCoord categorically stated that this attitude will not be tolerated by the security and those people proven to be high on drugs, will be arrested. The NSCoord also warned that only accredited bodies (the ECSL & media stations approved by the ECSL) will be allowed to announce election results. Therefore, any unauthorized station found contradicting this provision, will be shut down immediately.
The NSCoord further encouraged all Political Parties to adhere to the campaign timetable as designed by the ECSL. He also admonished political party supporters to desist from destroying campaign materials of rival parties as this practice is not only against the electoral laws but also very indecent.
The NSCoord seized the opportunity to inform all and sundry that the National Situation Room (NSR) has been activated and operates on a 24/7 basis on a Toll-Free Line 119 on Orange, Africell and Qcell. The general public is encouraged to responsibly call to report on all security matters affecting their respective communities warranting security sector intervention.
The NSCoord concluded by emphasizing and assuring the public that the security sector will fully support the ECSL and that no individual or political grouping will be allowed to bring Sierra Leone to her knees.