Legal proposals aimed at changing the electoral boundaries in Sierra Leone laid before parliament

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 24 July 2017

Last Friday, 21st July 2017, the parliament of Sierra Leone voted for constitutional and statutory instruments regarding the recent redrawing of constituency and ward boundaries in sixteen electoral districts – 14 in the provinces and 2 in the western region, to be reviewed by members within twenty-one days, before they become law.

Elections are just eight months away. But the boundary delimitation process and outcomes have been controversial.

Some opposition politicians have criticised and accused the ruling APC of gerrymandering.

They say that by redrawing the historical electoral boundaries and creating new ones – especially in the north of the country, the ruling APC will gain unfair advantage at the polls in March 2018, as some of the new constituencies now  have larger population.

If there are no amendments in the next twenty-one days, the total number of electoral constituencies will increase by twenty from one-hundred and twelve.

Commenting on the new instruments that are now laid before parliament for review, the speaker of parliament – SBB Dumbuya, called on MPs to study and review the Instruments properly, because they will become law after a period of twenty-one days, if they fail to raise and address major concerns within the stipulated period.

The deputy minister of Justice, John Arrow Bockarie laid the legal instruments on behalf of the attorney general and minister of Justice, Joseph F. Kamara who was also in attendance with the chief electoral commissioner, N’fah Alie Conteh and other commissioners of the National Electoral Commission.

Paramount Chief Bai Kurr Kanagbaro Sanka III said that the redrawn constituency and ward boundaries are correct, save for spelling mistakes and language, and are therefore subject to corrections by NEC”.

The minority leader of parliament, Dr. Bernadette Lahai said that they as an opposition have agreed for the instruments to be laid in parliament for review, and that major concerns will be raised with NEC for amendment.

Early this year, the draft electoral boundary delimitation instruments were thrown out by parliamentarians for failing to meet the required constitutional standards.

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