Covering March 7 Elections on Polling Day

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posing with chair of the Independent Media Commission, IMC, Ambassador Alieu Kanu at the SLBC on Elections day

Voting went on March 7 2018, in relatively calm situations. Apart from a few centres where the process begin a little late after 7 am when polling was to start, here at the ARK, Robert Street poling centre, constituency 125, voting started in time.

Materials arrived before the voting started in earnest. The centre has 10 polling booths, each segmented in two for Presidential and Parliamentary candidates and two for Mayor and Local Council candidates. I voted in the 10th polling booth and the process was calm. Outgoing Member of Parliament, Hon. Francis Kowa also voted here.

Scores of voters crammed the centre and a special provision was made for the aged, pregnant women and the differently able person. The police has little role to play and one of the officers who spoke to www.sierraleonews.com  say they are here to do their jobs and so far there has been no security threats

Except for an isolated incident as a voter was spotted with a bottle of alcohol. He was frowned at and officials were alerted and the miscreant was taken care of. Party agents were present and each one of them said they are satisfied with the process so far.

At Syke street polling centres there were rumblings about the starting time and the presence of party agents to inspect voting materials well before voting started. An agent for the National Grand Coalition (NGC) said the NEC officials were not saying anything to them. Alongside the polling agents were voters anxiously waiting to cast their votes.

At Kroo town Road and Priscilla Street, voters queue patiently to cast their votes and the process went on without complaints. A similar situation could be said about the Christ Church polling centre in which the lines were fast reducing.

Security is watertight, streets are free of vehicular traffic and the police are stationed in strategic locations to carry out stops and checks, and vehicles searched. At Campbell Street, Pademba Road Junction, a joint operations team comprising the Police, OSD and Military Police was commonplace.

The crucial part was in the evening when police had a course t chase after some people around the polling centres. Some politicians were around to observe after casting their ballots. This did not go down well with other opponents as in the case of brookfields hotel wherein the running mate of the All People’s Congress voted. That Constituency was hotly contested as the SLPP aspirant Junior Bio was ordered to be arrested on trumped up allegations of stabbing an opponent.

St. John area was also peopled by nearby resident when it was reported that the NEC officials had asked observers and party agents out of the centre during ballots counting in the evening hours.

The police raided a centre when Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio had a tally centre following up on the results after polling on suspicion of him having a hacking device to tamper results in the national tally centre at the NEC headquarters.

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Abu Bakarr Tarawally is a Journalist based in Freetown. He works for the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation as a radio producer. He has once served as Editor for a few newspapers in Freetown, including Sierra Express Media, The Exclusive Newspaper and his own newspaper, the Daily Express Publications. He is a teacher trainer, and loves writing and reading a lot. Email: abstarawally@gmail.com. Call +232 88601277 or +2327661303.

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