By Mabinty Kamara
Claim: Marcella Samba- Sesay escapes audit on 1.5 million Euros EU funding
Verdict: False, National Elections Watch (NEW) and Marcella Samba-Sesay did not receive 1.5 million Euros nor escape audit.
Following the conclusion of the general elections last week, NEW and one of its senior officials, Marcella Samba Sesay, has been embroiled in controversy regarding their decision to predict a run-off and demand for disaggregated data from the Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone (ECSL).
In the aftermath of that, there have been a lot of messages targeting her and the coalition, NEW. A viral message on Whatsapp is claiming that she escaped from Sierra Leone to avoid an audit of funds from the European Union (EU) to the tune of 1.5 million Euros.
A portion of the viral message reads:
“The European Union (EU) committed to funding NEW the total sum of €4 million for the 2023 elections in Sierra Leone. However, all opinion polls conducted on behalf of the EU prior to the elections by highly reputable and internationally recognized organizations predicted an outright victory for President Maada Bio without a runoff. It was on this basis that the EU decided not to make the full payment sum of €4 million upfront to NEW. Instead, the EU decided to initially fund NEW the sum of €1.5 million to independently monitor the political campaigns and elections on 24th June 2023.”
To verify this, the SLAJ/NDI SuperNewsRoom team reached out to the EU in Sierra Leone and its representative denied claims of giving NEW 1.5 million Euros.
Elisa Tesselli, Project Manager for Governance, described the news as “Fake news circulating”.
She explained that the NEW received funding from the European Union of 820,000 Euros to promote electoral integrity through citizens’ observation.
The funding, she said, has been committed to cover activities related to domestic election observation by NEW during the 2023 general elections as well as for capacity building.
“The European Union has not funded any opinion polls in Sierra Leone. Yes, the total amount is 820,000 Euros, this covers general elections and capacity building of citizens’ observers,” Elisa said.
NEW Communications Team described the claims as “blatant lies”.
Conclusion: False. There is no evidence to support the claims made in the viral message. EU did not give Marcella Samba-Sesay or NEW 1.5 million Euros.
NOTE: This fact-checked story is a product of the SLAJ/NDI SuperNewsRoom on Combating Disinformation in Sierra Leone’s 2023 electoral cycle. The project is supported by Global Affairs Canada to enable citizens have access to credible and accurate information during the elections.
The SuperNewsRoom is powered by Africell SL.
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