The National Security Coordinator, ONS, Mr Abdulai Caulker, has assured the European Union Observer Mission in Sierra Leone that Sierra Leone’s Security Sector has the requisite capacity and, therefore, is fully and adequately prepared to provide the enabling environment for the conduct of the upcoming general elections. The NSCoord made this statement following a courtesy call to the ONS by the EU Permanent Mission and the EU Elections Observer Mission in Sierra Leone.

After welcoming the EU team to Sierra Leone and the ONS, the NSCoord then ushered the EU Chief Observer to further throw light on the purpose of the visit.

Expressing her appreciation for the warm welcome, the EU Chief Observer stated that the purpose of visiting the NSCoord was to pay a courtesy call and also get an update on the current security situation in the country. That the team was in Sierra Leone at the invitation of the Electoral Commission and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in order to observe the upcoming elections.

Updating the EU team, the NSCoord assured that by intelligence and security estimate and assessment, the general security situation in the entire country remains relatively calm and quiet.

The NSCoord outlined the activities of the Security Sector in preparation for the provision of security before, during and after the elections. The NSCoord furthered that the National Security Council Coordinating Group (NSCCG) had activated the Integrated Elections Security Planning Committee (IESPC), which is coordinated by the ONS and charged with the responsibility of providing administration and coordination for the security of the upcoming elections. As part of its mandate, the IESPC conducted district risk mappings, developed three key election security documents, and conducted threat assessments to identify hotspots and potential spoilers during the elections. The documents developed have all been rolled out in a series of Training of Trainers exercises for security personnel across Sierra Leone. As part of enhancing effective productivity, the UNDP has supported the ONS through the provision of tablets to all ONS Coordinators for reporting on all elections and other security-related issues.

The NSCoord also informed the EU team that quite recently, he led a team of the NSCCG for engagements with the decentralized security structures across the country. The purpose of the engagements was further to enhance the synergy among the security sector agencies and assess the level of security preparedness in supporting the Electoral Commission for the successful conduct of the elections. The outcome of the engagements has resulted in the reactivation of Incident Command Centers at the Provincial and the Forward Control Points at the District levels. These structures will work alongside the National Joint Operations Center for the operationalization of security information and intelligence.

The NSCoord also seized the opportunity to further inform the EU team that the National Situation Room (NSR) and the IESPC secretariat have also been activated to support information and intelligence collection, analysis collation and dissemination for operationalization. The NSCoord expressed that the NSR, which runs on a 24/7 basis and is manned by officers from the primary security forces, will be the main information hub from which all other Situation Rooms feed. He furthered that only the ECSL and other accredited Radio/TV stations will be allowed to announce election results.

Having patiently listened to the briefing from the NSCoord, the EU Chief Observer again expressed thanks and appreciation to the NSCoord for what she described as a comprehensive brief. She also assured that her team was in Sierra Leone to support the electoral processes as part of the wider partnership between the EU and Sierra Leone in promoting democracy across the world. She furthered that the EU is only interested in the electoral processes and not who wins the elections. She also ended by stating that the team will be in Sierra Leone until the end of the elections and requested the contact details of ONS Coordinators across Sierra Leone. The NSCoord assured that a list containing the contacts for all Coordinators would be provided as a matter of urgency.

The Deputy Chief Observer EU Elections Observer Mission in Sierra Leone, Inta Lase, also expressed her thanks and appreciation to the ONS and the NSCoord for the assurance and briefing. She requested for identification of hotspots and/or flash points which the Mission should take note of during the course of their duty. The NSCoord stated that these would be made available in subsequent engagements. The EU team was led on a conducted tour of the NSR and IESPC secretariat.

The meeting was also attended by the Deputy National Security Coordinator, ONS, Dr. Ahmed A. Sannoh, the EU Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Manuel Muller, EU Legal Analyst, Eirini Skouzou, EU Security Chief, Maria Tortosa, Zainab Bakarr Kamara, EU Deputy Security Chief, and Abdul Karim Will, Deputy Director, Strategic Communications & Spokesperson, ONS.

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