Nigeria: General Elections 2019

Time until Saturday, 16 February 2019, 08:00:00 (Lagos time)

INEC News

ECONEC TASKS SIERRA LEONE MEDIA, CIVIL SOCIETY GROUPS ON DEMOCRACY



The ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC’s) delegation has tasked the Sierra Leonean media and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), to play a positive role towards the consolidation of democracy and good governance in their post-conflict nation.
The Prof Mahood Yakubu-led ECONEC governing board team, which is in Sierra Leone on a Needs Assessment and Solidarity mission, gave the advice during meetings in Freetown on Wednesday, 12th July 2017, with representatives of the CSOs, and the leaderships of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) and the Independent Media Commission (IMC).
The visit is ahead of Sierra Leone’s crucial general elections in March 2018, the second to be conducted without the presence of the United Nations peace mission following a decade of the disruptive civil war in that country.
“Election is a critical sovereign issue and democracy, a collective responsibility,” said Prof Yakubu, who is also Chair of Nigeria’s Independent Electoral Commission (INEC). “You cannot have a credible or peace election without the involvement of civil society organisations, journalists or the media.”
During the meeting with CSOs, including representatives of the National Election Watch (New), Campaign for Good Governance and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) Sierra Leone, the NEW President Marcella Samba-Sesay, articulated the concerns of CSOs in the run-up to the March 2018 polls.
These include uncertainty about the election date, the level of official commitment, public perception, boundary delimitation, voter registration, election security and police conduct, ”shrinking space for alternative voices and options,” and funding gap. The other concerns are related to intra-party and the electoral court.
During the ECONEC team’s meeting with the Acting Chair of the Independent Media Commission, Commissioner Sahr Mbayo and his colleagues, issues related to funding and capacity building; media conduct during elections and the influence of social media were also discussed.
Similarly, at the SLAJ Secretariat, the Association’s President Kelvin Lewis, mentioned the need for professional training for journalists, lack of a structured engagement of the media in the electoral process and activities, and threats of intimidation and censorship.
In his response, Prof Yakubu reiterated the assurances by Sierra Leone authorities that the elections would be hold as scheduled and that most of the outstanding issues including the boundary delimitation and public elections bills and planned referendum would be addressed in line with the ECOWAS Protocol which stipulates that no new laws would be introduced six months before an election.
He also promised that ECONEC would advocate on behalf of the stakeholders for support in specific areas such as capacity building, and in contacting development partners for assistance.
The ECONEC delegation leader particularly appealed to the media to eschew conflict inciting reportage so as not to jeopardise Sierra Leone’s young democracy.
On the ECONEC team, which would proceed on a similar mission to Liberia from Freetown, includes the chair of Burkina Faso’s electoral Commission Mr Ahmed Barry, his Cabo Verde counterpart Mrs Maria do Rosario Goncalves, officials of the ECONEC Secretariat and a representative of the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA).
The missions are supported by OSIWA, Nigeria’s Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) chaired by Prof. Yakubu and EISA.
The ECOWAS Commission set up ECONEC in 2008 to promote credible elections in member States to encourage the gradual harmonization of electoral laws and best practices through experience-sharing and peer-learning in electoral matters.