By Sulaiman Juldeh Bah
It has emerged that attempt by the ruling APC to hijack the February 14th Valentine’s day campaign in the Western Area has backfired shortly after the National Electoral Commission (NEC) warned political parties to go strictly by campaign timetable.
NEC’s Elections Officer Christopher A.A Coker said the Valentine’s campaign in the Western Area has been a major talking point with rumors making rounds that a certain party wants to use the day for campaign rally even when it is not their day.
He therefore warned political parties to strictly go according to the campaign time table put out by NEC, cautioning them that no party will be allowed to sell its campaign date to others.
He disclosed that campaign dates allocated to political parties were done by NEC, but that representatives of the parties balloted for them, which he said had given them the right to campaign as scheduled nationwide.
Coker states that on the day in question, the CDP and UDM will campaign in Western Area (rural and urban), while UNPP and ADP will be in Kenema and Kailahun, NGC and PDP in Bombali and Karene, PMDC, UP and RUFP in Bo and Pujehun, C4C and PLP in Port Loko and Kambia, APC and ReNIP in Koinadugu and Falaba, SLPP and NURP in Bonthe and Moyamba, NPD and NDA in Tonkolili and Kono respectively.
On the issue of preparedness, he said polling staff recruitment and the printing and storage of voting material is going on as planned.
He said the police and other security apparatus are providing security for voting materials kept in stores at the Wellington Industrial estate.
He disclosed that the police, military and other agencies will be providing trucks and other vehicles to transport voting materials on polling day.
Coker advised political parties against the use of thugs, hurling of abusive languages and the preaching of inciting and hate messages during campaigns, to ensure they adequately sensitize their supporters, especially new voters on how to vote instead of organizing big rallies.
He implored political parties to ensure that their campaigns are peaceful and non-violent and always campaign within the designated district or place allocated to them on their day.
He said so far so good, since the start of campaign they have not received report of any politically related disturbances across the country and advised leaders of political parties to be always exhibiting tolerance and maturity as election is not a do-or-die affair.
On the issue of objection, he confirmed that the objection period for local council and parliamentary candidates has closed and that all of them are qualified as no objection was raised against any of them.
For presidential candidates, he said the Commission has received no document or correspondence from anyone challenging the completed nomination process, but said they have heard that a petition has been filed at the Supreme Court against one of the candidates but no official information has been received.