Vice Chairman, National Election Watch
Reducing Divisive Effects of Competition, Elections
Tue Aug 5 2008
Ken Ganna-Conteh discusses the role of national observers—in this case, National Election Watch, a coalition of non-governmental organizations—in monitoring the 2007 parliamentary and 2008 local elections in Sierra Leone. He explains the measures taken by NEW to ensure impartial elections observation. He especially emphasizes community-based recruitment of unbiased observers, training of observers, and the curtailment of corruption through adequate managerial structures as key to ensuring impartiality. Ganna-Conteh also discusses the importance of international observers, political party observers, the National Electoral Commission, and civic society in general in guaranteeing transparency, and he reflects upon their interactions with NEW. He also emphasizes the need for media and police cooperation in expediting elections monitoring. Finally, he reflects upon some of the challenges faced by NEW—especially budgetary constraints—and the role of international donors in allowing the organization to overcome them.
At the time of this interview, Ken Ganna-Conteh was vice chairman of National Election Watch, as well as the partnership coordinator for Search for Common Ground, one of the non-governmental organizations that comprise NEW. Previously he was a journalist with Talking Drum Studio at Search for Common Ground.