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Sierra Leone: Electoral Commission assures timely announcement of results

The head of Sierra Leone’s National Electoral Commission (NEC) has promised timely announcement of the elections results after the much anticipated March 7 voting.Mohamed N’Faa Allie Conteh said on Monday that particular focus would be on the presidential contest, the outcome of which would be announced first.

He said that vote counting would commence immediately after voting officially ends at 5pm.

Conteh, however, assured that where the queues are long, the voting period maybe extended to allow everyone to vote.

Conteh refrained from stating the exact time frame, but noted that they would make sure that the announcement was done early.

“We know that after voting the most heightened period is when people are waiting for the results,” he said in an interview, adding: “We are going all out to ensure that we announce the results as early as possible, particularly the presidential results.”

“We are not hoping that it will go beyond a week,” he added.

According to the Commission, there will be 132 elections for parliamentary seats and 446 elections for positions of local council, including the mayoral contest.

The Commission said it had set up five regional tally centres in the Western Area (Freetown), Bo (south), Kenema (east), Port Loko (northwest) and Makeni (north) where counting would be done before being transmitted by a computerized system to the headquarters in Freetown.

These regional tally centres are hosted in all the district council in these towns.

The NEC boss pronouncement comes amidst questions about the preparedness of the Commission to handle the high stake elections.

Most recently there have been queries over the arrangement of the names of the candidates and their symbols on the ballot papers, as indicated on the samples released by the electoral commission as part of its voter education process.

Some opposition supporters have questioned why the candidate of the incumbent All People’s Congress (APC), Dr. Samura Kamara, comes first, on top of the rest, instead of the candidate for the Alliance Democratic Party (ADP), which many believe should come first if the names were arranged in alphabetically order.

Responding to this, the NEC boss said they used a computerized programme to make the arrangement and that the full names of the parties were used instead of the acronyms.

Mr. Conteh said going by that the APC comes first, before the ADP. He stressed that there was no bias intended on the part of the Commission.

“We at the Commission have no preference for any political party. We consider them all as equals,” he said.

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