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Low turnout and invalid votes characterized Saturday’s elections

By Lawrence Williams

The Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone (ECSL) conducted one parliamentary bye-election and five local council bye-elections on Saturday 25 June. According to National Elections Watch (NEW), a large number of security personnel were deployed to monitor those elections. Furthermore, major stakeholders such as the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC), the Office of National Security (ONS), the Election Conflict Prevention and Mediation Group (ECPMG), the Independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion, the Civil Society Platform for Nonviolence in Elections, the European Union Delegation to Sierra Leone, the American Embassy, the British High Commission, the Irish Embassy and the media participated in the observation.

There were no major incidents of violence reported during those elections due to the presence of international observers. However, there have been major concerns about voter turnout and invalid votes. Based on the ECSL’s analysis of the election results, it is evident that voter turnout and invalid votes were very high. Voters turned out in bye elections for Tonkolili Constituency 056 and Karene Ward 216 only to a maximum of 50 percent. In all six bye-elections, there was a significant proportion of invalid votes. The highest percentage was recorded in Constituency 056, and wards 252 in Port Loko and 138 in Falaba.

A number of political pundits have speculated that these issues are caused by a lack of voter education and the prevalence of violence during elections. They suggested that low voter turnout has been attributed to a pre-election atmosphere and a general electoral climate that has been problematic.

Based on the results announced by ECSL on Tuesday, the main opposition All People’s Congress (APC) won the parliamentary bye-election for Constituency 056, thereby increasing its majority in the House of Parliament. In addition, the party won three of the five ward elections, while the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party won only two seats in wards 031 in Kenema and 212 in Karene.

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1 COMMENT

  1. The SLPP shot themselves in the foot. This was a constituency that they have won in 2018. The MP resigned last year to take up the position of Paramount Chief.

    The constituency has been won by the APC in the last last four elections since the introduction of multi party politics in 1996. It is a strong hold of the APC. The last SLPP MP won that constituency based on his personal popularity and not because of the SLPP. So why would he vacate knowing that his party will not continue winning the constituency is the million question that only the SLPP would answer.

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