Monday, November 19, 2012

SL elections: Yes, I snuck out...

Yes, I snuck out on Saturday November 17th, 2012, the day of the presidential elections in Sierra Leone. My colleague and I assessed the situation and deemed it safe to leave the compound and walk 5 minutes up the road to the polling station. The village was interesting. There were about 50 people gathered around the big tree chatting. It was the only place we could see vendors selling cucumbers, fruit, fish and groundnuts. They had obviously planned their site well. And then there were a couple of voting stations with about 30 people waiting in line to vote. It looked orderly and there was a good atmosphere. I saw one of the guys I know from our area and he said hi. He showed me his dyed finger, proving that he voted, as well as his 'clipped' voters ID card. Everyone was given 4 ballots: one for presidential, one for parliamentary, one for local council chair/mayor and one for local council councillor. The voters told me it was pretty straight forward. There were a couple of police officers around and now and then a vehicle would drive up with 'national observers' in them. What was remarkable was that no one was wearing the colors of the two main political parties - there was no red or green in sight! Apparently it had been announced the previous day that people were not to go and vote wearing party colors. Going down towards the other end of the road we were surprised at how quiet it was. I have never seen the roundabout and streets surrounding it so empty. It looked like a ghost town.

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