The Minister of Internal Affairs Hon. Joseph Bandabla Dauda has on Friday 19th February, 2016 assured cross section of the All Political Parties Association (APPA) on the forth coming elections and the draft National Civil Registration Bill.
The Minister made the assurance at a meeting held in the conference room of the Ministry-6th Floor, Gloucester Street in Freetown. The assurance from the Minister came as a result of concerns raised by members of APPA regarding delay and other malpractices associated with the conduct of elections in 2018.
Minister Dauda allayed the fears of the politicians by stating in a clear terms that the registration process to be undertaken by the National Registration Secretariat (NRS) will not in any way serve as an excuse to delay the elections. The Minister emphasized the recent declaration made by President Ernest Bai Koroma in which he had declared February 2018 for the conduct of general elections in Sierra Leone.
Hon. Dauda informed the politicians that the registration process to be undertaken by NRS is an international initiative meant for developmental purposes, citing the adoptions international organizations like the Africa Union (AU) and the Economic Community for West Africa States (ECOWAS).
He furthered that the bill which makes provision for the registration of citizens and non-citizens in Sierra is a cabinet decision, he added that his Ministry is presently educating the public on the bill and its registration exercise; he therefore called on APPA to join the Ministryís sensitization team to engage the provincial people on the registration process in order to increase public trust as the bill is a public document.
"National Electoral Commission (NEC) and other stakeholders are working with the Ministry and the NRS to ensure that an acceptable registration is done" he opined. He elaborated that political instability and turbulence in most Africa countries are as a result of electoral malpractices. The Minister in this direction expressed the commitment of the government to ensure the process is transparent and acceptable by all.
Minister Dauda said that NEC still has its mandate to conduct election. He noted cost reduction, continuous, permanent and development purposes as the advantages of the NRS registration exercise; stressing that NEC registration is time bound. The Minister cited Uganda as the latest country to used civil registration data to conduct the just concluded elections. He added that Senegal and Liberia are also some of the few countries that have tested the civil registration theory. He informed the party leaders of the inclusion of NEC on the board of the propose authority. He concluded that all shades of opinions are represented on the board. That yhe said included the Ministries of Health, Local Government and others.
Mr Prince Koker, National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said election is a process which comes and goes but political parties represent people therefore they called the meeting for the Minister to clarify certain issues which are of concerns to the public they represent. He called on the Minister to consider them in the process so as to make the process inclusive. Mr Alhaji Ben Kamara also of the PDP expressed concern on the timing of the registration process and the conduct of the elections.
Again, Mr Gibril Thullah of the Citizens Democratic Party (CDP) told the Minister that they were at the meeting to expressed the feelings of the gullible public, reiterating blames they received from the public for failure to address issues of public interest. He nonetheless expressed public dissatisfaction on the registration process to be undertaken by the NRS.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.