Sierra Leone Begins Distribution of Voter ID cards
By Abu Bakarr Tarawally
The Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone (ECSL) has begun distributing the long-awaited voter Identity cards. The process was to commence much earlier this year but had been deferred on several occasions, eventually got underway on April 7th, 2023, with President, Julius Maada Bio and his wife leading the charge, ahead of the general elections scheduled for June 24th, this year.
It is almost a tradition or common practice in Sierra Leone for citizens to queue out in collecting their voter ID cards, but the apparent delays in producing the same this period come with the usual plea language for people to turn up and collect their voter identification cards. The commencing day, being a national holiday in observance of ‘Good Friday’, still saw a low turnout. Couple this with the fact of many people are currently fasting in the holy month of Ramadan, and the usual slow-start approach to things has not yet changed.
Both President Julius Maada Bio and his main opposition challenger, Dr. Samura Kamara openly called Sierra Leoneans to turn up and collect their voting ID cards. Meanwhile, the features of the current voting ID card contain a QR scan logo for easy verification of individual card carriers. Other bio-data features are contained in the current ID card, which the ECSL said are security features intended to prevent double-voting and also be able to track the number of actual voters in the register from the existing database.
The flag-bearers for both the Sierra Leone People’s Party and the All People’s Congress urged Sierra Leoneans to refrain from political violence and to uphold the rule of laws always as citizens. The opposition flagbearer picked out an instance of those in the habit of tearing banners of political party candidates in a feat of apparent disregard for civility and tolerance for opposing candidates to the candidates of their choice. Dr. Kamara called citizens out to refrain from such acts as it breeds chaos in the peaceful atmosphere of the current climate. He picked out the police to be professional in the discharge of their duty and not to be selective when it comes to arresting individuals caught destroying banners of political leaders.
Both President Bio and his main challenger, Dr. Samura Kamara confirmed that their bio-data are correct in the ID card as opposed to the obvious errors by the electoral commission on people’s personal details. The distribution exercise will last till April 16th, 2023.