Copyright: PMDC Sierra Leone….
The President in his address to the nation, touched on a number of issues namely:-
a. announcing the 7th of March, 2017, as the election date for Parliamentary and Local Council elections,
b. by extension, the election date for the Presidential election as rubber stamped by N.E.C,
c. commencement of registration of voters in the electoral process and related activities,
d. government to come up with a whitepaper on the revised constitution, &
e. his veiled threat to political parties and activists, to obey rules and regulations set forth for campaigning before NEC announces a date.
PMDC is of the view that 7th March, 2018 announced by Mr. President as the date for the conduct of Parliamentary and Local Council Elections in conformity with Section 57 and 103 of the Public Elections Act No.4 of 2012 is contrary to the provisions of Section 43(b) of the Constitution of Sierra Leone Act No.6 of 1991. This is so, because the President was sworn into office on the 23rd of November, 2012 and reading the provisions of Section 43(b) of Act No.6 of 1991, into the date announced by Mr. President, it becomes obvious that the 7th of March, 2018 falls outside the Ninety days (90) envisaged by the above Subsection.
A single day witnessed the conduct of all four elections in 2007 and 2012 because of the prevailing circumstances then. In the absence of special circumstances, NEC has no alternative but to abide by the provisions of the proviso to Section 43(b) of Act No.6 of 1991, which states that:- “Presidential election shall be held and completed before the election of Members of Parliament”. That being the case, dates to be fixed for both Presidential and Parliamentary elections cannot be identical as the former should precede the latter.
By Section 33 of the Constitution of Sierra Leone Act No.6 of 1991 and by extension, Section 7(1) and (2) of the Public Elections Act No.4 of 2012, defining the functions of NEC, it is the responsibility of NEC and nobody else including Mr. President, to address the question of registration of voters and related activities. To have included this aspect in his address, the President appears to be usurping the functions of NEC, which is contrary to the provisions of Section 32(11) of Act No.6 of 1991, guaranteeing the independence of NEC.
The President in his address, informed the nation of Government’s intention to come up with a whitepaper in relation to the constitutional review committee’s report recently submitted to him. It is our hope that Mr. President is not of the view that, whatever comes out of the referendum to be held, will impact on the pending elections, but rather, should take effect at the elections following the 2018 elections.
Section 35(1) of the Constitution of Sierra Leone Act No.6 of 1991 and Sections 6(1) and (2) of the Political Parties Act No.3 of 2002 clearly define the functions of the Political Parties Registration Commission. For the President to assume the responsibility of cautioning Political Parties in their conduct vis-à-vis campaigning before an official date is announced by NEC, leaves much to be desired, especially when one considers the veiled threat. PMDC as a party will discountenance that aspect of the address.
Although the President in his address did not refer to the redrawing of constituency boundaries, an exercise that is ongoing by NEC, it is our hope that NEC will advert its mind to Section 38(5) of the Constitution of Sierra Leone Act No.6 of 1991 which states “Where the boundaries of any constituencies are altered in accordance with the provisions of this Section (See 38) that alteration shall come into effect upon the next dissolution of Parliament after the alternation has been approved by Parliament.”
The following Sections of the Constitution of Sierra Leone, Act No.6 of 1991 are referred to as being germane to the issue under discussion:
Section 105 of the Constitution of Sierra Leone Act No.6 of 1991 states: ‘Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, Parliament shall be the supreme legislative authority for Sierra Leone”
“Section 108(1) of the Constitution, gives Parliament the sole authority to alter the provisions of the Constitution of Sierra Leone, Act No.6 of 1991, in accordance with the provisions laid down in the constitution.”
Section 108(8) makes it clear that “Any suspension, alteration or repeal of this constitution other than on the authority of Parliament, shall be deemed to be an act of treason”.
By reason of the premise, PMDC considers:-
a. the 7th of March, 2018 being the date slated for the conduct of Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Council Elections, as unconstitutional and could be seen as an attempt by the President and NEC to alter the provisions of the constitution in relation to such matters.
b. to attempt to conduct all three elections on the same date, also contravenes the Constitution of Sierra Leone Act No.6 of 1991.
PMDC therefore calls upon the President and NEC, to revisit the announcements made, taking into consideration the issues and concerns herein raised, without undue delay.
Section 164 of Act No.4 of 2012, gives the Electoral Commission, power to enlarge time; but only in very exceptional circumstances and in strict compliance with the Law governing same.
C.F. MARGAI ESQ.
LEADER – P.M.D.C
16TH FEBRUARY, 2017.
PRESS RELEASE FROM STATE HOUSE – 14TH FEBRUARY, 2017
1. Date for General Elections 7th March, 2018 (S.57 Act No.4 of 2012).
2. Presidential Elections 7th March, 2018 (S.43(2) Act No.4 of 2012).
3. Local Government Elections 7th March, 2018 (S.103 Act No.4 of 2012).
4. President cautions Political Parties on conduct required of them vis-à-vis campaigning before NEC declares date. (Responsibility of PPRC – S.35(6) Act No.6 of 1991 & Act No.3 of 2002 S.6(1)(2).
5. President referred to the review of the Constitution by C.R.C.
6. Redrawn boundaries thus creating new constituencies (Act No. 6 of 1991 S.38(5).
7. Order of Elections (S.43(6) Act No.6 of 1991) under proviso Presidential Election to precede General Elections.
8. S.164 Act No.4 of 2012 – Power of Commission to enlarge time.
9. S.168 Act No.40 of 2012 – repeals Act No.1 of 2002 and Act No.2 of 2002.
10. S.87 Act No.6 of 1991 – holding of general elections to occur not earlier than 30 days and not later than 90 days after dissolution of Parliament.
11. Period during which Presidential elections shall take place S.43 Act No.6 of 1991.