Abubakarr Koroma explains the role of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) in 2008 local government elections in Sierra Leone. Koroma offers insight into the process of recruiting staff members to fill NEC officer posts, detailing the measures taken toward attaining nonpartisan recruitment. He explains how United Nations officers worked alongside local officers to ensure that all aspects of the election were adequately staffed, from the early stages of registration through polling day. He discusses the commission’s collaboration with civil society organizations in monitoring trained staff members, as well as the role of the police in protecting workers’ safety during campaigning and at the polls. He details the widespread use of radio and cellphones by both the NEC and the political parties during the campaign period in voter education. He also explains how third-party mediation and public condemnation of deviant behavior effectively dealt with election disputes. Finally, he addresses the steps taken by the NEC and other organizations to reach out to marginalized voters such as women and rural residents, and sheds light on what the elections may mean for the development of democracy in Sierra Leone.
At the time of this interview Abubakarr Koroma was the senior elections officer in southern Sierra Leone as well as a district electoral officer for Bo district. He previously served as an assistant elections officer in Tonkolili in northern Sierra Leone and a district electoral officer in the Pujehun region of the country. Through these positions he gained extensive experience working on staff recruitment and training as well as maintaining election security and resolving election disputes. He was involved in the production of a voter education manual for the 2008 local government elections, regularly appeared on radio talk shows aimed at educating voters, and served as coordinator of the Independent Monitoring Team. In 2010, he organized a training session on electoral administration and communication skills at the Institute of Electoral Administration and Civic Education in Freetown.