NEC holds consultative conference on boundaries delimitation exercise in Kenema 


August 2, 2016 By Mohamed Massaquoi in Kenema

The National Electoral Commission (NEC) has organised a two-day consultative conference for stakeholders on the boundary delimitation exercise for Constituencies and Wards in Kenema district, at the District Council Hall.

Giving an overview of the exercise, NEC’s Phillip Kargbo, said the commission was carrying out the exercise ahead of the 2018 general elections, adding that they have used the Provisional Census Result to carry out the draft boundary delimitation exercise. He said the reason for the consultative conference was to share the report with various stakeholders, including political parties, civil society groups, Paramount Chiefs and the media for a critical dialogue and input in the process.

The provisional census result, which is being challenged by the main opposition party, puts the country’s population at a little over seven million, with the north recording the highest, ahead of the Western Area, which also includes Freetown the capital.

Kargbo said that NEC had engaged the District Boundary Delimitation Monitoring Committee internally to look at the document before presenting it to members of the public and that the electoral body would accept any recommendations, as long as they are within the laws of Sierra Leone.

“The increase in the national population has influenced NEC to create more polling centres across the country. Kenema district still maintained its constituencies but more Wards for the city, unlike the district, where the Wards have been reduced to 25 instead of 30. There is no longer multimember Ward which allow the Kenema city to have 18 councilors,” he said.

Chairman Kenema District Boundary Delimitation Monitory Committee, Adonis Kanneh, described the process as important and timely as it was geared toward identifying proper representation in Parliament and Local Councils.

He said the engagement of stakeholders would enable proper understanding of the system used by NEC to demarcate constituencies, and called on participants to critically look at the report and analyse it in the best interest of the country.

Hon. Francis Konuwa of Constituency 14, noted that as parliamentarians they attended the conference to listen to various recommendations by stakeholders, adding that that would help inform their debates in Parliament.

He, however, denied claims that opposition lawmakers were part of debate for the increment in seats in the House of Parliament.

“NEC stated that they wrote a letter to the leadership of Parliament regarding the increment in seats, but I want to make it clear that we were not informed and the document was not laid in the Well of Parliament,’’ he said, adding that the consultation was not final but the beginning of a long exercise.

Hon. Samuel Brima of Constituency 16, also noted that their party, the Sierra Leone Peoples Party, had already taken a position that they do not accept the provisional result of the National Population and Housing Census, which was conducted by Statistics Sierra Leone. He said he attended the meeting in order to better understand the views of the people.

NEC Director of Training and Voter Education, Edmond Alpha, said the electoral body was charged with the responsibility of conducting boundary delimitation based on census result, and that what they have embarked on falls within their mandate.

“All the areas we have engaged stakeholders, the SLPP Members of Parliaments have raised similar concerns based on the party position regarding the census report. We are encouraging all stakeholders to stay so that some of these issues can come up and we will take them to the appropriate authorities; but I am happy that you are all here to participate,” he said.

However, Mayor of Kenema City Council, Joseph Keifala, and Kenema District Council Chairperson, Dr. Senesie Foday Mansaray, were both conspicuously absent.