Those Whistle Blowing Campaigners
Whistles and locust vuvuzelas have been persuasive in the political mass rallies in the capital Freetown. Traditional hammocks are no more in use as it traditionally marks a show of respect to revered authorities – but lying onboard are now open motorcades. These sounds – jollying the merrier, mark the political calendar timing to awake the National Electoral Commission (NEC) chairperson, Dr. Christiana Thorpe to soon declare official campaigning period.
At this moment, competition is rife as each political party clamors for crowds. The buck starts rolling with the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) who had their nomination process on Monday October 8, 2012. Presidential nominee, Julius Maada Bio and his running mate, Dr. Kadi Sesay and their parliamentary symbol carriers moved mammoth crowds to the envy of rival parties.
The ruling All People’s Congress (APC) had their nomination day on Thursday October 11, 2012, in which the popularity of the incumbent President Koroma was stir-cased.
Mass rallies are the breaking pot moment wherein political liquidities of political parties are being put to test. Candidates use these test cases to determine what chances they have to win the elections.
Contrast to this past phenomenon, the November 17 elections have this time a different analysis. While the concept of stronghold is much more the word, we have a disappointing situation with the apathy that greeted the registration process concluded in March 25 this year.
So far, a number of 2,701,299 Sierra Leoneans were reportedly registered by NEC to partake in the November 17 polls.
NEC had earlier projected a 10% increase, which is expected to be in the region of 3,492,513 persons as the expected turnout increases. This figure reconciles a demographic data base by NEC in the 2007 voter registration exercise.
A deficit of 791,214 of that figure, equivalent to 21.62%, rendered the apathy at a wider gap from such expectations.
Then ruling SLPP stronghold (South, East) eclipsed a 45.16% over the then opposition APC Northern stronghold that was only 30.95% on a shortfall of 14.21% in 2007. In 2012, the opposition SLPP reduced a 4.52% in the regional register. It means the registered voter turnout in SLPP’s stronghold is currently 40.64%.
On the other hand the ruling APC registered a rise in their strong hold by 3.44% making it total a 34.39%.
The Western Area recorded a rise of 1.08% from it 2007 register of 23.87% to 23.97%. Also the Western Rural registered 23.61% and Kailahun’s 16.16% highest droppers from their rise in 2007.
Moreover, the total record drop in SLPP’s stronghold (SE) remains 61.59%, followed by the Western Area’s (WA) 21.62% and the North on 16.79% by the 10% projection. Equally to the first two risers, the Rural West (RW) catapults a 1.99% and that of Koinadugu which registered a 0.85% in 2012.
Away from these figures, the argument of mass rallies, winning the elections is out of place. Looking at the register, even the said 2,701, 299 current figures are not enough to earn a presidential candidate the prescribed constitutional 55% threshold in a country of about six million population size.
Now it is evidently clear that each of the ten registered political parties partaking in the November elections have crowds loyal to boast of. Then it comes to the question of run-off, it is evident that mergers of some sorts are going to be visible in the area of not meeting the criteria threshold. What menaces and positive effects both factors have to do is invested in the meaning of merger and cross alliances.
Up with the safe nature of the peaceful conduct of the elections, the political party heads have this equal daunting task to stop foul languages into play. From these early encouraging signs, Sierra Leone would be able to register another milestone in history to have run a safe and sound conduct of elections.
Abu Bakarr Sulaiman Tarawally is a Media Analyst, Human Right Activist and Freelance Editor. Former Editor of Sierra Express Media
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