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.
It happened before and worked for them successfully, but this time around, tactics has failed them for real. Creating petty little parties in the country in order for them to come together in defeat of the main ruling party comes June 2024, 2012 and 2023 that was 11 years ago. People, when your comrade traveled outside and see the differences in the world, it means he or she should have more knowledge than you do. Bio is smart. APC and this kind of tactics won’t work anymore.
A common sense approach to political rallies could be to confine them to designated areas that could be managed like stadiums, fields etc. Political campaigns should not be disruptive to ordinary people who do not want to participate from going about their business.
Therefore banning them entirely may not be appropriate and could have the opposite effect.
But this is exactly what the PPRC stated after the meeting with political parties. It is street rally that has been banned. People need to go and read the statement of the PPRC on this issue. I am baffled to read this article which left out the important issues agreed on by the PPRC and representatives of registered political parties
You are wrong to suggest that the decision to ban political rallies is illegal, unlawful, and unconstitutional.
The law states that every individual shall have the right to assemble freely with others. Yet, the exercise of this right shall be subject only to necessary restrictions provided for by law in particular those enacted in the interest of national security, the safety, health, ethics and rights and freedoms of others.
If you read our bylaws there are caveat that provides the restriction of movement.
I refer you to the Processions Act (The whole Act) Cap. 73.
You are absolutely right Sir. The problem we have in our country is that our heads of institutions pay less attention to the rule of law and constitutionality. They are rather concerned more about what is politically expedient and acceptable to their paymasters or powers above. In such situations, the rule book does not matter because they have the self attributed power to make new rules as they go along, with impunity.