Augustine Sorie-Sengbe Marrah: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 04 April 2023:
The Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC’s) recent decision to ban political rallies is as illegal, unlawful, and unconstitutional as the Police’s ban of vehicular movement in 2018. Political rally is not a prohibited activity in the new Political Parties Act 2022. (Photo above: PPRC Chairman – Abdulai M Bangurah).
The Supreme Court of Sierra Leone has ruled that fundamental rights cannot be abrogated by press releases or communiqués but by an express law passed by Parliament.
It is this same Supreme Court that has upheld the District Proportional Representation system for the forthcoming elections.
It’s lazy leadership to always slam a ban on our problems rather than attempting to confront or solve them. Our leaders have worsened our problems by this age-old habit.
You may not like political rallies (the same for me), but you must respect the right of citizens to exercise their rights and to freely participate in the electoral processes.
Is there a need for proper organisation of these rallies and increased security measures?
Certainly! Instead of banning political rallies, the PPRC and the security sector should work with political parties to introduce measures to improve the decorum of their members and supporters and curtail disorderliness.
The answer to lawlessness at political rallies is not to ban. If you think it is, wait until you see how supporters converge at the designated centres. They would not suddenly become law-abiding while commuting to these grounds.
Lawlessness in political rallies is not addressed by a ban. This is because if you get rid of lawlessness in political rallies without addressing lawlessness in general (in electoral activities), political parties will simply take the lawlessness to the next available electoral activity.
This is what happens when you don’t address a problem. It may be dislodged but not extinguished.
About the author
Augustine Sorie-Sengbe Marrah is a lawyer and political activist in Sierra Leone.