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NEC may look into SLPP civil registration petition for 2018 elections

September 21, 2016 By Mohamed Massaquoi

The Head of External Relations at the National Electoral Commission (NEC) yesterday disclosed in an exclusive interview with this medium that the commission was yet to put out any position paper on issues raised by the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) regarding the use of data generated by the National Civil Registration Authority for election purposes.

Albert Massaquoi said the commission was currently focused on the boundary delimitation process which is ongoing across the country, adding that the commission would definitely look into the position paper of the SLPP on the issue.

‘’I am sorry the commission has not at the moment decided on any position regarding this matter, however we will look into it and make  a public statement,” he said.

The SLPP has claimed that the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) is bent on using the National Civil Registration Authority Act of 2016 to interfere with the operations of NEC, thus undermining the 1991 constitution of Sierra Leone which gives legitimacy to NEC to register voters in all public elections and referenda.

Acting National Secretary General for the main opposition party, Ambassador Alie Badara Kamara, recently said in a press statement that the party wishes to draw the attention of the general public and the international community, including civil society and the media, to moves by the government that could undermine and compromise the integrity and independence of the NEC ahead of the 2018 presidential, parliamentary and Local Council elections.

“Subject to the provisions of this constitution, the electoral commission especially shall be responsible for the conduct and supervision of voters for and of all public elections and referenda and for the registration of voters, the conduct of presidential, parliamentary or local government elections and referenda and other matters connected therewith, including for voting proxy,” Amb. Kamara said, quoting from the constitution.

Amb. Kamara maintained that as stipulated in the constitution, NEC has the sole and exclusive power and authority to supervise and conduct the registration of Sierra Leoneans as voters for all elections and that in 2012 the legislature went further by amplifying the powers of the commission in the Public Election Act No.16 of 2012, adding that in Section 17 of the same Act, Parliament recognises NEC as the only institution with power to register voters.

“We considered it to be the responsibility of NEC to conduct elections. The SLPP view this attempt by the APC government to reduce the electoral process to rely on data collected by National Civil Registration to be used as voters list as unconstitutional, unacceptable and a political strategy by the Ernest Bai Koroma led administration to tamper with the national election.

“There is no justification for this whatsoever in the constitution. Nor is there any provision in any other provision in any other law. For all the forgone reasons, the SLPP would like to call on the entire international community, including governmental and non-governmental organisations, to reframe from rendering any support to the national civil registration process authority to compromise or undermine the integrity and independence of NEC,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Civil Registration Authority Act provides for the amendment and consideration of laws relating to the compulsory registration of citizens and non-citizens resident in Sierra Leone, and to provide for the issuance of identity cards, the establishment of a National Civil Authority responsible for the registration of births, marriage, death, adoption throughout Sierra Leone, plus other related matters.

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