President Ernest Bai Koroma has said that he will appeal to the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to increase the number of biometric kits deployed by NEC in the Western Area. The president made this statement after registering along with his wife in the same unfinished house in Gbendembu, Goderich in Constituency 93 Ward 332 where he voted in 2007.
Questioned whether he would make an appeal to NEC if he found out that a good number of people were not able to register, the president said “Yes. We have received concerns about the people not being able to register, the concerns are everywhere but particularly in the western region wherein people get up as early as 6 am to line up and stay in the queues for a very long time.” He disclosed that the government has “had an initial discussion with NEC, (and) our feeling is that the number of kits that are deployed in the western area are too limited.”
Thereupon the President said “I will appeal to NEC to increase the number because I am told that you have 89 kits for the entire western region – considering the fact that it is in the western region that you have the greatest concentration of population, I would have thought that they would increase the number of kits so that they will be in the position to adequately service the people in the western region.”
However he said “we have been through the first phase, in the second phase my appeal to NEC is that they should increase the number of kits (to) ensure that everybody register.” He added” in the end there is a lot of enthusiasm on the part of the people to register and we must not deny them that facility because we have limited kits; I will appeal to NEC and I hope that they will consider it seriously to increase the number and ensure that every Sierra Leonean that is out to register is given an opportunity to register.”
On the registration process President Koroma said “the process itself seem to be smooth, of course I will not say it is a normal process because I am accorded a special facility to register because I am president; but the look of it seem to be orderly, the queues are very long, I will only hope the registrars will have enough time to exhaust the length of the queue – the people that are standing in the queue.”
On the issue of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) press release in which they accused the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) of transporting people to register in other areas, President Koroma said “I think that is baseless, as a government we are very proud of our record of performance there is no need for us to ferry people all over the country.” He went on “it is the right of every Sierra Leonean to go to a place he or she wishes to be registered, I am at the moment at Hill Station, I am here to register, people are free to move around.”
However, he maintained “for an allegation as serious as that to be made by the opposition I think we have taken the position that the allegations must be substantiated or else the due process of the law will take its course … because this is the greatest allegations made so far that borders on undermining the security of the state and we are not going to treat it lightly.”