Ahead of the 7th March general elections, it appears as though the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) and opposition political parties are at each other’s throat over a decision by the former to restrict vehicular movements on polling day.
Facts are that the police through a Memorandum of Understanding signed with some political parties manipulatively announced plan to ban vehicular movements on polling day.
The issue has now turned into a contentious one, which to a point has seen 10 political parties planning to take the police to court should they insist on implementing the proposed vehicular ban on polling day.
Among the political parties planning court action are SLPP, ADP, C4C, NDA, NGC, PDP, PLP, PMDC and RUFP.
The announcement to institute legal action against the police was made last Wednesday 7th during a press conference held at the SLAJ headquarters.
The aggrieved opposition parties maintained that elections day should be like any other day in the country and they vehemently condemn the decision of the police to prevent movements of vehicles on polling day.
They (opposition parties) noted that such a decision will undermine high voter turnout, especially among the aged and persons living with disabilities as some polling stations are not within walking distances from homes both at rural and urban areas.
The parties recalled how during the 2012 elections stalwarts of a certain party were believed to have been provided with police uniforms to engage in multiple voting and as such urged the need for all police officers on duty on polling day to be visibly identified with their names and numbers emboldened on their uniforms.
The parties further stated that the code of conduct on the elections for personnel should be prepared and shared with political parties and that security officers are not to be allowed to enter polling boots on polling day.
Meanwhile, the Inspector General of Police, Richard Moigbeh has taken a swipe at the decision of the aggrieved political parties in challenging police’s ban on vehicular movements at polling day.
The IG, who was speaking during Sierra Leone Bar Association’s launching of the 2018 elections handbook on electoral laws last Monday 12th, at the British Council, said the 1991 constitution which provides for freedom of speech and movement also makes legal provisions that restrict or limit such movement and maintained peoples’ movements will not be restricted on that day but private and commercial vehicles will.
He challenged the political parties by saying that the police is waiting for those who think it is their right to institute legal action, as he puts it, “the action of the police was handed down in line with provisions of the constitution.”