The Chief Electoral Commissioner & National Returning Officer
Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone ( ECSL)
28th November, 2022
LETTER REQUESTING THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION OF SIERRA LEONE TO EXTEND THE VOTER EXHIBITION EXERCISE AND TO TRANSPARENTLY EXPLAIN AND SHOW STAKEHOLDERS HOW AND WHY THEY DELETED OVER 250,000 REGISTRANTS FROM THE VOTERS’ REGISTER
It is out of a deep sense of cosmic responsibility, love for our democracy and nation that we make bold to write you this letter requesting you to extend the voter exhibition exercise and also transparently explain and show stakeholders how and why ECSL deleted over 250,000 registrants from the voters’ register.
Mr Chief Electoral Commissioner, you will agree with us that the rationale for embarking on a voter exhibition drive amongst other things is to afford electorates the opportunity to confirm, correct, include or make objections to their records on the provisional voter register so as to prevent disenfranchisement or disruptions on polling day.
By our observation of the exhibition process, it is clear as crystal that your fundamental objective of the exhibition exercise has been clearly undermined due to the shortness of the time frame allocated to complete the exercise. Given the myraid of challenges that eclipsed the voter registration exercise, four days is certainly unrealistic to dealing with all of the corrections, inclusions and or objections in the voter register nation-wide. In line with the spirit of leaving no one behind and also not willfully disenfranchising the electorate of their fundamental human rights to vote and be voted for in the 2023 general elections, we crave your kind indulgence to consider a reasonable extension of the voter exhibition exercise as such will bring no harm to the electioneering process.
In relation to your recent action of deleting over 250,000 registrants from the voter register, we note that not much was said by your institution in your press statement over this unilateral decision to disenfranchise such a huge number of registrants from taking part in the 2023 elections.
Without prejudice to the double registration reasons you proffered in your Voter Registration Analysis press statement, it may be just, fair and equitable in the given circumstances for an independent inquiry to be carried out over these huge number of deletions in a bid to ascertain whether infact these registrants were actually guilty of double registration as alleged by you in the first place. As an integrity institution, such a practice of accountability and transparency ought to be the mantra and modus operandi at all material times as you continue to execute your mandate of conducting free, fair and credible elections in the country.
At a time when majority of the country’s civil society organizations have gone stone cold over these alleged infractions, we at LEGAL LINK feel enthused and obligated to continue serving as a voice of conscience and the mouth piece of vulnerable groups in Sierra Leone including these affected registrants. *In the opinion of LEGAL LINK, this decision taken by the ECSL to delete over 250,000 registrants from the voter’s register if not transparently addressed has the proclivity to undermine the integrity and credibility of the 2023 general elections and further pose a clear and present danger to the peace and stability of our nation.
Mr Chief Electoral Commissioner, as a legal advocacy group, we hold the view that the right to vote and be voted for in periodic elections is a fundamental human right to be enjoyed by all eligible citizens in a democratic society. Also, it is for good reason why such rights are provided for under section 31 of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone. Denying citizens therefore the enjoyment and or exercise of such fundamental human right granted to them by the highest law of the land without clear explanations and justifiable limitations amounts to a violation of not only domestic law but also other international legal frameworks to which Sierra Leone is a state party.
In conclusion Mr Chairman, we emphasized again that our call to action is not in any way to be misconstrued as taking the sides of deviants and election fraudsters but rather it is to ensure that ECSL provides a transparent, evident-based explanation showcasing how they arrived at a decision to delete over 250,000 registrants from the voters’ register. Also, we are requesting that such inquiry and or evidence based explanation be done in the presence of stakeholders inclusive of political parties, election management bodies, civil society organizations, donor and diplomatic community and the press showcasing the matrix and data of double registrations for all to see and witness. By so doing, it would enable the ECSL to win the trust and confidence of all players involved in the electioneering process and further help in deepening our democratic credentials as a nation.
As we await your prompt response to these two burning issues, please accept the assurances of our highest regards.
Rashid Dumbuya Esq
Executive Director of LEGAL LINK and Former Commissioner for Human Rights in Sierra Leone