President Koroma kicks off voter registration
The biometric voter registration system is new to Sierra Leone. The system, which has reputedly cost over $14 million, has been the brunt of controversy and praise of ecstasy depending on what political party one belongs to and which newspaper or radio station one subscribes to.
The voter registration system is being used to gather an accurate list of voters in Wards and Constituencies, to avoid duplication of voter’s names and to ensure a fair and accountable voters list ahead of the November 2012 elections.
On Saturday, January 21, President Koroma officially launched the voter registration process at the mini-stadium at Brima Atuga in the east of Freetown. Alongside other APC councillors, ministers and other government officials, the President explained his understanding of the biometric voter registration system. Surrounded by red shirts, head-ties and hats, the President dilated on the issue of Muslim women who wear veils or Ejabs. He urged women to come to the registration centres and unveil their faces so they can be accurately photographed and recorded. He also requested that men who come to register should remove their hats to ensure the computer system registers an accurate likeness of their faces. President Koroma also urged people to come out to register if they want him to continue for a second term in office.
The program was chaired by the Chairman of Eastern District, Minkalu Manseray who welcomed the President and his supporters to the field. He praised the government and welcomed people who came to learn about the bio-metric voter registration system. Other groups in attendance were the Drivers Union, Tribal leaders, Gola Kingship Association, Bike Riders Union, Traders Union and others.
Essentially, this voter registration launch was an All People’s Congress meeting with party supporters providing a background of red and singing political songs in favour of the President. Notably absent were officials from the National Election Commission (NEC) and the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC), who are charged with running the voter registration process across the country.
According to the Chair, “they (the APC) will make their mark on the country. The party started in the East and it’s fitting that we launch the voter registration system here in the East once again.”
Commenting on the recent violence in bye-election in Ward 369, Constituency 104, President Koroma blamed the police for the violence and the problems during the bye-elections.
He noted how badly this whole thing looked for Sierra Leone amongst international donor partners and the international press.
The President was angry with the situation and promised that the APC Party would avoid violence as much as possible.
“We got serious criticism from both sides,” President Koroma stated and added that those responsible for any political violence should be charged to court and the law should be applied to maximum.
The President of the APC Women’s Group, Elizabeth Manse, commended the President for the job he’s been trying to do. She exclaimed that women especially should come out on Monday to register to vote for the elections in November 2012. She rallied the APC crowd with stories about road constructions, traders, healthcare, etc.
By Emma Black
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