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Sierra Leone election must go on, say civil societies

No fewer than 30 registered Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Sierra Leone have resolved that the country’s Presidential Run-off Election must be held on March 27 as scheduled, in spite of an interim court order putting it on hold.

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The CSOs’ resolution was reached at an extraordinary meeting of Civil Society Leaders held on Saturday in Freetown.

The meeting’s resolutions was made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday.

A High Court of Sierra Leone on Saturday granted an interim injunction restraining the National Electoral Commission (NEC) from conducting the Presidential Run-off on March 27.

The court is expected to decide on the matter on Monday.

The Civil Society Leaders described the news of the court order as ”frustrating and depressing”.

“CSO leaders are pleased to report that we observed elections in all polling stations across Sierra Leone and have certified the March 7 polls as largely credible and peaceful.
”Civil Societies are particularly concerned that at this time of distribution of election materials, just two days to the polls, the High Court has decided to put our electoral process on hold.

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The society leaders said that the decision would frustrate the vast majority of citizens, who have already sacrificed a lot during the process, and negatively affect the operations of NEC.

They added that it would also at the end undermine Sierra Leoneans’ hard earned democratic credentials.

“In the wake of this disturbing decision, Civil Society notes that Sierra Leoneans around the world have been reminded about the role the judiciary played in our country’s recent history.

“The Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report findings stated that: “lawyers and judges in Sierra Leone have failed to stand up to state tyranny. They have failed to give any meaningful content to the Rule of Law’.”

“Civil Society is concerned that after 15 years of post-conflict peacebuilding and the great investment in judicial reform, we expect our Judiciary to correct its past.”

They expressed concern at the level of public anger and frustration since the announcement of the court order hit the street and social media.

They, therefore, appealed to the public not to be moved by any form of provocation but patiently wait for a peaceful resolution of the situation on Monday.

“We advice members of the public to remain calm and prevent unscrupulous individuals from exploiting the situation to promote chaos, that may result in increased security threat.

“We call on all Civil Society Leaders to be present in court on Monday 26th March as we monitor how the judiciary decides on this matter.”

A High Court in Freetown on Saturday ordered a halt to the Sierra Leone Presidential run-off presidential election scheduled for March 27.

The court ordered that the run off poll should be put on hold pending the hearing of a petition by private lawyer, Ibrahim Sorie Koroma of Port Loko District, Northern Province, over alleged electoral malpractices during March 7 inconclusive election.

Koroma had on March 22 filed a petition before the court in Freetown, seeking an injunction to suspend the March 27 Presidential run-off election between the candidates of the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party and the ruling All Peoples Congress.

Sierra Leone’s NEC said it had received an interim injunction against the conduct of the run-off election.

The Chairman of NEC, Mohamad Conteh, in a statement he issued on Saturday said that the Commission will temporarily cease all logistical preparations for the run-off” till Monday when the matter will return to court.


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