The Co-Chairperson of the National Elections Commission (NEC), Cllr. Sarah Toe has described elections magistrates as largely the first hand election authorities in the fifteen counties with the responsibilities to deal and investigate any elections related complaints brought before the Commission.
The Co-Chairperson said elections magistrates must be able to deal with the origin of elections complaints from political party agents, voters, candidates as well as their supporters in line with the law.
She said to implement this mandate, the Commission, through the Hearing and Field Coordination Sections saw the basis for conducting four-days of refreshing training in Hearing and Elections Operations and Dispute Resolution, especially designed for Elections Magistrates and Regional Elections Coordinators.
Cllr. Toe said because it is likely that some persons with stake in the ongoing electoral process of conducting free, fair and transparent elections may have challenges which could be translated as complaints, Elections Magistrates and Coordinators must be fully equipped to deal with these very important issues in elections dispute resolution.
Consistent with the New Elections Law in Section 5.9, political parties, candidates and voters have rights to complain about violations or other electoral offences, the NEC Co-Chairperson said.According to a press release, Commissioner Toe spoke on Tuesday, August 22, at the official start of a four-day Briefing on Hearing and Elections Operations for Regional Coordinators and Elections Magistrates of the Commission.
The 19 Senior Elections Magistrates and 4 Regional Coordinators ongoing elections hearing and dispute resolution training on the Compound of the NEC is organized by the Hearing and Field Coordination Sections of the Commission.
The United Nations Development Program, UNDP, European Union, EU, the governments of Sweden and Canada, as well as, the Irish Aid are providing funding to the program.
Speaking further, commissioner Toe admonished the Elections Magistrates and Coordinators that as the first instance for redress, they must be engaged before any attempt to proceed to the Supreme Court is considered.
She said on these basis, Magistrates and Coordinators must be educated that the admissible technique required by a trained magistrate, proper record keeping and the importance of facts finding as a means to ascertain the veracity of an issue brought before you for investigation at all times are key to the management of Dispute Resolution.
In separate remarks, the Country Director of UNDP, Dr. Pa LawinBeyai, MarjaRuohomaki Counsellor of Sweden, Ambassador TiinaIntelmann of EU, as well as Elena Gramme of Irish Aid stressed the need to have a free, fair, transparent and credible elections on October 10, 2017, pledging their support to the electoral process.
The UNDP Country Director, Dr. Beyai said the UN group was happy to support the NEC not just for the 2017 Presidential and Representative Elections but also as a long term support to the Commission. Press Release