October 13, 2016 By Joseph S. Margai
The main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) has called on the international community and donor partners to stop providing support to the National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA) with respect to the civil registration exercise.
The opposition party says it regards the process of civil registration as gross contravention of the laws recognising the exclusive mandate of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to supervise and conduct voter registration.
In a press release dated 12th October, 2016 and signed by Acting National Secretary-General, Ambassador Alie Badara Kamara, the opposition party made it clear that inasmuch as they may not be averse to the process of civil registration, the APC-led government should not reduce the NEC to an entity that should depend upon data collected and collated by the National Civil Registration as source to compile the voter register, or work in collaboration in that regard.
“Besides the justification put forward by the APC-Government that the exercise is cost effective, the SLPP finds it absurd, baseless and of no importance as it further contravenes the electoral laws and undermines the independence of the National Electoral Commission. The SLPP would like to remind the entire international community, including civil society groups and governmental and non-governmental agencies, largely those funding the civil registration process that the “Rule of Law” reigns supreme in any democracy,” the release stated.
The release further alleges that APC’s agenda to hold on to power through unscrupulous means was clearly manifested in the ruling party’s determination to circumvent or interfere with the constitutional mandate of an independent National Electoral Commission.
The release recalled that on Friday, 16th September, 2016 the SLPP issued a Press Statement on the Constitutional Exclusivity of the power of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to supervise and conduct voter registration; and the attempt by the APC-Government to undermine and compromise the integrity and independence of the Commission.
“Barely three weeks following that Press Statement, the Ministry of Internal Affairs had in a meeting held with the leadership of Political Parties, including the National Electoral Commission, on Monday 10th October, 2016 disclosed that the APC- Government will proceed with the civil registration exercise,” the release noted, adding that SLPP therefore dissociates itself from the entire process and consequently will not support or endorse the conclusion of that exercise if NEC were to extract data or accept conjointly to undertake the process as no law provides for that.
The press release noted that since 2002, the country prides itself to have successfully conducted three peaceful post-war National and Local Council Elections and that NEC was not on record for any impropriety.
“The Constitution of Sierra Leone Act No. 6 of 1991 establishes an independent Electoral Commission and spelt out in section 33 the powers and functions of the Commission and in Section 32 of the said constitution, stipulates the independence of the Commission. Furthermore, this power is amplified in the Public Elections Act No.16 of 2012 and section 17 recognises NEC as the only institution with the power to register voters for public elections and to update and revise such register,” the release further noted.
They added that the National Secretariat of the main opposition party, under the leadership of the National Chairman and Leader, Chief Sebora Somanoh Kapen, completely dissociates the party from the conclusions reached at the said meeting on Monday, 10th October, 2016 and further reiterated its stance expressed in the Press Statement of Friday 16th September, 2016.