January 11, 2018 By Joseph S. Margai
Mayoral candidate of the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), Raymond Desouza George’s nomination has been put on hold by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) on the grounds that he is not registered in the Western Area Urban.
Papa Ray, as he is fondly called by his admirers and supporters, was set to go through his nomination at NEC headquarters in Freetown yesterday (10th January), but couldn’t because officials realised he had registered at Mount Aureol, which according to the commission automatically disqualifies him to contest for Mayor of Freetown City Council (FCC).
Christopher A.A. Jones, NEC’s Spokesperson, cited legal instruments, including the Local Government Act 2004, Public Elections Act 2012 and the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone that informed the decision.
“These are the laws that qualify candidates for the nomination of Local Council. If any political party submits a candidate that falls short of these legal frameworks, that candidate’s nomination will be rejected. There are laws that state that if you want to be a member of the Local Council as enshrined in Section 6 of the Local Government Act 2004, you must register within the locality and ‘Papa Ray’ did not do so in the location where he wants to be a member of FCC,” noted Jones.
Asked if there are any clauses permitting people to transfer their registration to another area other than where they had registered for the purpose of contesting, he denied knowledge of any such clause.
“You can only ask for transfer if it is during the voter’s registration process but NEC is currently doing nomination for vacant seats that are in existence. Before the nomination process, the issues of nomination, qualification and disqualification were all placed in one booklet and given to political parties to read carefully. Nomination for Local Council closes on 14th January, 2018,” he added.
When contacted yesterday through mobile phone, ‘Papa Ray’ confirmed to Concord Times that he went to do his nomination at NEC headquarters, but was unable to go through the process.
“I think it’s the problem of the locality where I registered. During the voter’s registration process I registered on FBC campus where I reside. But the SLPP lawyers are working on the issue and I hope that I will be able to go through the process soonest,” he said.
Meanwhile, Abubakarr Joe Sesay, Editor of SLPP’s Unity Newspaper, confirmed yesterday that the party’s lawyers were working assiduously on the issue and would come up with statement soon.
Similarly, NEC had put on hold the nomination of the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) mayoral aspirant Yvonne Aki-Sawyer, despite a court order obtained without notion to NEC. The commission and Ms. Sawyer are due to appear in court to argue the legal conundrum.
The SLPP and its mayoral candidate will be interested in the outcome as the issue also touches and concerns them.