Postponement of elections is untenable


- Opposition SLPP says

May 26, 2015 By Mohamed Massaquoi

Opposition Leader, Chief Bai Sebora Somano Kapen
Opposition Leader, Chief Bai Sebora Somano Kapen

The opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) has said that any attempts by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to use the National Population and Housing Census 2015 as a determinant factor for the postponement of Local Council, Parliamentary and Presidential elections “would be wholly untenable”, describing the move as a ploy by the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) “to extend the mandatory two term of office of the president”.

Speaking during a press conference at the SLPP headquarters in Freetown yesterday, Chairman and Leader, Chief Somano Kapen, told journalists the party had resolved that elections for Local Councils, Parliament and the presidential must be conducted on the stipulated dates, respectively 2017 and 2018.

“We will be meeting today with the regional chairmen and other stakeholders to put strategies in place as to how we should organize lower level elections, especially as we prepare for the Local Council elections come November 2016,” said the main opposition leader. “No postponement of any election; come rain or shine elections must go ahead. That is why we have adequately responded to the NEC position paper on the implementation of the postponement of the 2014 census from April 2015 to December 2015.”

While presenting the party’s position paper on the issue, Northern Region Chairman, Dr. Abass Chernor Bundu, said their position remains that it was untenable to accept the reasons advanced by NEC for the proposed deferment of the said elections as they could not be justified or warranted as NEC was under a legal obligation to conduct the elections on their due dates, in conformity with the mandatory provisions of the Constitution of Sierra Leone 1991 (Act No. 6 of 1991).

“In other words, we are calling for the elections to be held on their due dates whether the national census is postponed or not,” insisted Dr. Bundu.

The issue of whether elections due in 2017 and 2018 would be held according to schedule has been cast in doubt after NEC released a statement which seemed to suggest they could only conduct polls with the availability of census results.

The census, which was slated for 2014, was first postponed because of the Ebola outbreak, and again cancelled until December this year after a huge outcry as to the credibility of the process.

Also, eight of the 10 registered political parties, including the ruling party, had endorsed plans to delay elections until census results were available.

However, the Peoples Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) is on record to insist that “census or no census, elections must go ahead”.

Meanwhile, NEC was reported to have earmarked the date for the elections in either 2017 or 2018 following a strategic planning workshop last week.