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Maforki goes to the polls to elect new paramount chief

Maforki goes to the polls to elect new paramount chief

Port Loko, May 13 (SLENA) – Competent sources have told the Sierra Leone News Agency that the long awaited Paramount Chieftaincy elections for Maforki Chiefdom in the northern district of Port Loko is to be conducted on Monday 12th May 2014 after a series of postponements and cancellations following the death of Paramount Chief Bai Forki Sonkoi 111 about eight years ago.

 The last attempt to conduct this election was on 4th December 2013 when the process was stopped by an injunction from the High Court of Sierra Leone following a contention over the issue of whether Maforki is an amalgamated chiefdom or not.

The injunction was enforced at the eleventh hour after the Revision of the Chiefdom Councillors’ list in September and the Declaration exercise in November 2013.

According to the Port Loko District Electoral Officer, Sahr Samuel Keillie, the ruling from the High Court had declared that Maforki was an amalgamated chiefdom. He said the National Electoral Commission was subsequently ordered to conduct the Maforki Paramount Chieftaincy Election in collaboration with the ministry of Local Government and Rural Development within sixty days from the day that this ruling was pronounced.

Sahr Samuel Keillie said his Commission was very much prepared for the conduct of what he referred to as a transparent process and that both materials and personnel are all in place for the process to be carried out as scheduled.

He told SLENA that a total of seven candidates were qualified to contest the pending elections and will be voted for by one thousand and twelve (1,012) chiefdom electors. The candidates are: Bangura Alex I, Bangura Bai Inga, Bangura Hassan, Bangura Khali Alpha, Kamara Amadu Seaport, Kamara Mohamed Modou and Kamara Mohamed Modou.

He said arrangements have been made to have the number of voters divided into two (2]) Polling Stations of five hundred and six (506) electors each in order to avoid unnecessary delays and fast track the process. He said there will be a Presiding Officer, a Voter Identification Officer, Ballot Paper Issuer and a Ballot Box Controller.

Sahr Samuel Kellie said the counting of votes will be done in the full view of the public and that the winner who will be announced by the Provincial Secretary is required to secure 55 percent of the votes. But in a situation where no candidate is able to secure the 55 percent, he said the first two candidates with the highest votes will go for a re-run which will now be based on a simple majority.

In a related exercise, the Assistant Inspector General (A I G) of Police in charge of the Northern Western Region, FUK Daboh has told the news agency that it is a fundamental responsibility of the police to provide the enabling environment for the peaceful conduct of elections not only by securing the voters and election materials, but that the police is equally responsible to protect the relevant stakeholders in addition to the protection of the lives and properties of all and sundry.

AIG Daboh said the venue for the election has been relocated to the District Council Conference Hall instead of the Native Administrative Court Barray along Sanda Street in Port Loko after a consultative meeting with NEC, SDO, ONS and other key stakeholders as a result of some obvious reasons.

He said the former venue is a Central Business Centre with a high vehicular traffic. He said there is also the issue of the onward road construction project in the township plus the fact that the former venue is comparatively small to conveniently host the huge number of voters.

The Assistant Inspector General of Police said his officers are however fully prepared for a secured electioneering process, adding that the venue will be condoned off about 25 Metres from the general public, adding that people will be identified and screened before entering the hall and will be issued with identification stickers bearing the name, address and number as published in the Sierra Leone Gazette. He ended with an appeal for all to adhere to the orders set out by the Security Unit.

According to the Senior District Officer, Mohamed Sheikh Kargbo,  the ultimate goal is to elect a substantive Paramount Chief that will succeed Paramount Chief Bai Forki Sonkoi 111 who passed away in 2006.He said there has since not been any election due to protracted court cases surrounding the issues of amalgamation and rotational crowning which dates back in 2002 after the demise of PC Alikali Modou III.

By Hassan Bruz

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