March 9, 2017 By Mohamed Massaquoi
Honourable Member of Parliament representing Constituency 014 in the Kenema district has called on the Speaker of the House to probe into the controversies surrounding the date for the presidential election.
Hon. Francis Konuwa noted that it was the responsibility of parliamentarians to institute an investigation into matters of public interest through a special committee, adding that since President Ernest Bai Koroma announced date for the 2018 presidential election; series of debates have taken place among civil society, the media and the general citizenry.
Hon. Konuwa was on Tuesday speaking in the well of Parliament, where he noted that the House should chip in and set the records straight and put a stop to such debate, which he said would not be helpful to the smooth operations of the country’s democracy.
“A lot of debates have been going on in the public domain that the president has over stepped his mandate. Many people believed that the presidential election should be held in February and not March. Lawyers have been arguing a lot about it. This clearly shows that there is a lacuna in the laws regarding the date that was announced by the president. It is a serious concern and that is the reason I presented a motion for the House to look into this matter,” he said.
He added that he was concerned as a law maker that the National Electoral Commission agreed on such a date.
“My motion has been accepted and I have already presented the relevant documents to the Clerk of Parliament so that it can be debated,” he concluded.
It could be recalled that the National Elections Watch (NEW) has clearly stated that announcement and proclamation of the date for presidential election is good for democratic accountability and renewals, but however noted that the date for Presidential Election on March 7th,2018, as announced by Chief Electoral Commissioner and Chairman NEC, exceeds the 90 day provision as per Public Elections Act 2012.
NEW cited Section 43, Subsection 3 (b) which states that in any other case, the Electoral Commission, may in the proclamation referred to in Subsection (2) fix the actual date of the election, the date not been earlier than thirty days and not later than sixty days before the date appointed for voting in elections.
“NEW is therefore calling on NEC, as mandated by the Constitution, to explain to citizens as to why the extension of the date for Presidential election beyond the 23rd February 2018. Furthermore, the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance, Section II Article 2,Subsection 2 on Elections states “all the elections shall be organised on the dates or at periods fixed by the constitution or the electoral laws,’’ NEW Chairperson, madam Marcella Samba Sesay.