- Over 1,000 polling officials in Sierra Leone have been banned from participating in elections in the country, the government announced. The ban resulted following the officials' indictment in fraud during the country's 2004 disputed local government polls. In most cases, the results were disputed over excess balloting and underage voting.
Sierra Leoneans go to the polls on 28 July to elect both the president and lawmakers.
A government gazette disqualified the said presiding officers from taking part in any future electoral activities to be organised by the national electoral body.
Under the leadership of a respected woman, Christiana Thorpe, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) said the move was necessary in its effort to continue to install public trust and confidence in the institution, which she said "continues to organise free and fair elections" in the country.
NEC officials boast of an independent and credible institution that promotes democracy and good governance in a country that is trying to recover from several years of civil war.
"We are very serious about adherence to our laid-down principles and standards. We are determined to set a very good example; and if you like; a very good precedent as far as electioneering in Sierra Leone is concerned", Dr Thorpe told a recent ceremony in Kenema District, eastern Sierra Leone where her staff presided over the selection of 26 election registration monitors.
Dr Thorpe said elections should be termed fair and transparent when the registration process is without fault.
The 26 monitors were chosen out of 155 applicants. The electoral commissioner asked to maintain fairness and transparency - the watch words of NEC. "We are very much determined and committed in ensuring that we do not develop any iota of doubt in what ever we do as in relation to the July 28th elections", she stressed, warning the new officers to discharge their duties and responsibilities without fear or favour.
As the time for the polls draw nearer, the ruling Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) and the main opposition All People's Congress (APC) have started the battle to dominate Sierra Leone's northern district of Kambai. Both parties are said to be neck to neck in the area.
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