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NEC Slashes 2018 Nomination Fees

…Far below Thorpe’s ‘killer’ fees in 2012!

September 25, 2017 By Joseph S. Margai

Equitable: NEC boss Nfa Alie Conteh
inequitable: erstwhile NEC boss Dr. Christiana Thorpe

The nomination fees that were tabled in Parliament this Tuesday, 19 September, by Deputy Minister of Justice, Arrow Bockarie, on behalf of Chief Electoral Commissioner Nfa Alie Conteh were far below the amount paid in the November 2012 general elections.

The controversial ex-nun who presided over two crucial elections in 2007 and 2012 elicited mix reactions when she decided to exponentially increase nomination fees for various elective offices, thus forcing many women and youth to abandon their political dream.

Since her departure from NEC – she has gone on to become a junior minister in the current government – the electoral body, under the astute leadership of her successor, has gone back to right the numerous wrongs she helped create.

According to NEC’s Director of Media and Communications, Albert Massaqoui, said proposed 2018 elections nomination fees were reduced with due regard to the minimum wage, adding that in the 2012 general elections the government of Sierra Leone subsidised the nomination fees because smaller political parties who could afford to pay threatened to boycott the elections.

The current proposed nomination fees, which have been tabled in parliament for debate, include thirty million Leones (Le30m) for presidential candidates, two hundred and fifty thousand Leones (Le250,000) for village headman, five hundred thousand Leones (Le500,000) for councilor, one million five hundred thousand Leones (Le1,500,000) for mayor/district chairperson and three million Leones (Le3m) for a member of parliament.

The above amount for the March 7, 2018 general elections is far below nomination fees political parties paid in the November 2012 general elections. The erstwhile Chief Electoral Commissioner, Dr. Christiana Thorpe, controversially insisted that political parties pay one hundred million Leones (Le100m) each for presidential candidate, twenty-five million Leones (Le25m) for a member of parliament, five million Leones (Le5m) for mayor/chairperson, and two million Leones (Le2m) for councilor.

Mr. Massaquoi, who was speaking in an interview with Concord Times yesterday, said they arrived at the current nomination fees after several consultations and meetings with political parties.

“After the nomination fees were announced in 2012, we had lots of issues with political parties to the point that they threatened to boycott the 2012 general elections if the fees were not reduced. After that threatening remarks, President Koroma made a public pronouncement that he [the government] would subsidise the fees,” he explained and added that political parties eventually paid half of the fees NEC charged while government paid the remainder as a subsidy in the 2012 elections.

He said when the current Chief Electoral Commissioner, Nfa Alie Conteh, paid courtesy calls to political parties, after his appointment, the first issue that was raised by the latter was that the nomination fees of the 2012 elections were exorbitant.

“We even had political parties that categorically told us that they would not participate in bye-elections because of the fees. For instance, if the parliamentary election was one million Leones (Le1m) during the 2012 elections but government paid the remaining nine million Leones (Le9m), for a bye-election, the parliamentary candidate would pay the whole of the ten million Leones (Le10m) with no subsidy,” he said.

Massaquoi disclosed that after the current NEC boss engaged with the twelve (12) registered political parties, NEC came up with an ‘compromised fees’ based on the country’s minimum wage, citing that the minimum wage is five hundred thousand Leones (Le500,000).

He said the nomination fees that NEC proposed for the 2018 elections was sixty million Leones (Le60m) for presidential candidates but the political parties appealed to NEC to reduce it to Le30m.

“We did a calculation and concluded that for mayor/chairperson it is a three-month minimum wage. For a member of parliament, it is a minimum wage of six months and for presidential candidate it is a minimum wage of 12 months over a period of five years,” he explained.

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