January 17, 2017 By Patrick Jaiah Kamara & Ibrahim K. Turay
Deputy Minister of Information and Communications, Cornelius Deveaux, has told a presser at the weekly Ministry of Information and Communications press briefing that there was no vacancy in the presidency; hence the National Electoral Commission (NEC) hasn’t the legitimate mandate to announce specific date for the next general elections in 2018.
“And until the tenure of the parliament expires by exclusion of time, there is no vacancy in the presidency and the National Electoral Commission (NEC) cannot announce an election date because there is no vacancy in the presidency,” he said, adding that the vacancy to be filled by presidential elections shall be declared by NEC by a proclamation made after consultation with the president.
The debate for the announcement of elections date started off with a call from the National Election Watch (NEW), who had earlier stated that late announcement of the date would undermine democratic governance .Similar calls have been made by other civil society organisations and the main opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP).
Speaking last Thursday at Youyi building, Deveaux came down heavily on people he referred to as ‘advocates’ that were demanding the announcement of a specific date for the general elections, adding that they were oblivious of the legal framework surrounding the announcement of elections date.
He argued that the constitutional provisions guiding the holding of public election were clearly spelt out in Sections 57, 43(2) of the Public Elections Act of 2012 and Sections 87(1), 85 of the 1991 constitution respectively.
“So if you are aware of these legal frameworks, you will within your own mind be able to calculate an anticipated date for the next election,” Deveaux said.
While addressing the nation during the state opening of parliament last year, President Koroma said “he and his party will continue to rule on, and on, and on, and on,” as parliamentarians of his party rose up and chanted the ruling party’s slogan.
In a widely publicized statement ,President Koroma was quoted saying that nobody would stop him from running for a third term in office should he had wanted to do so.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Minister stressed that there was no vacancy within the presidency and that there was no reason for a debate over the issue as the time was ‘too early’ to quest for an election date.
“We pray that there should be no recourse, no too much talks , calls, or demands for a specific elections date because the time is just not yet ripe for that. The constitution clearly set out as to when and how to announce a voting date for president and ordinary Members of Parliament,” he said.