WIMAGE RELEASES PRELIMINARY REPORT ON CONDUCT OF SIERRA LEONE ELECTIONS
By Kabs Kanu- Public Relations Officer, Wimage.
The Women in Monitoring and Auditing Global Elections ( Wimage ) on Sunday, July 10, released its preliminary report on Sierra Leone’s June 24 General Elections conducted by the Elections Commission of Sierra Leone.
WIMAGE was among the local and international elections observer and monitoring teams accredited by the Elections Commission of Sierra Leone to monitor the presidential, legislative, and council elections.
According to its mission statement, “WIMAGE is a U.S-based nonprofit international elections observer organization also dedicated to increasing the capability of women and girls to fully exercise their rights, determine their life outcomes, assume leadership roles and influence decision- making by actively participating and promoting strong democratic values through monitoring and auditing.”
Among the findings of the organization was that the Government of Sierra Leone ” had effectively shut out international election observation and monitoring organizations by denying them accreditation through the freezing of the accreditation link on the website of the Elections Commission of Sierra Leone. This exclusion of international observers from the electoral process at the time, according to WIMAGE, ” foreshadowed the country’s approaching democratic decline. “
WIMAGE reports that through its teams on the round, it pushed through its accreditation with a consortium of local civil society organizations and deployed a total of 42 observers throughout the PROVINCES and directs of Sierra Leone , with a side emphasis on the participation of women.
HERE ARE THE FINDINGS OF THE ORGANIZATION
It was generally observed the June 24th, 2023 elections in Sierra Leone saw a relative increase in gender inclusion in the electoral process. While there were only 19 women elected as parliamentarians, the 2023 election saw a rise of up to 41 women parliamentary representatives out of 146 positions in the parliament, constituting 27.5% of the total. This can be partly attributed to the fact that the majority of the political parties adhered to the one-third gender rule on political party candidate nominations. Despite the overall increase having utmost significance, it is essential to note that Sierra Leone still lags behind other countries regarding gender representation in its counsel and Mayers positions. It still has a long way to go before it reaches parity in its equitable representation.
We generally observed a general dissatisfaction among women voters on the conduct of ECSL in administering free and fair elections. A notable number of women were denied their democratic right to freely and fairly participate in the voting process. Although Sierra has implemented gender-inclusive
political programs and initiatives such as the ‘Women in Politics Leaders Network’ which was established in 2021 in response to the ‘Women in Politics Act,’ the actualization of the programs still needs to be more effective.
It is worth noting that we observed the political parties that have been more proactive in recruiting and nominating female candidates have been rewarded with an increase in women’s representation in parliament. This suggests that the electorate and political parties are beginning to recognize the importance of gender inclusion in politics and are beginning to choose parties that emphasize gender balance in their nomination structures.
TO BE CONTINUED