Sierra Leone Telegraph: 7 December 2017
Dear His Excellency the President
We, the undersigned civil society organizations are saddened by the unfolding circumstances around the electoral process with the elections only three months ahead.
We would like to draw Your Excellency’s attention to a number of obstacles, which institutions under your administration have established that limits our participation in political processes.
We believe that if the situation continues unaddressed, the actions of current institutions could be viewed as a deliberate attempt to undermine the fundamental human rights guaranteed by our Constitution; this is citizens’ right to vote and be voted for.
We also think it is important to note that restricting any citizen’s right to vote or be voted for is against the democratic ethos the freedoms your government took oath to promote and protect.
Your Excellency Sir, the first issue relates to a current Statutory Instrument in Parliament for the reduction of the exorbitant candidate nomination fees for vying for Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Council positions and to make politics affordable for every Sierra Leonean.
The proposal for reduction of fees was thrown out of Parliament in October this year and still yet to be enacted. We believe Members representing us in the House of Parliament have not given the Instrument the importance it deserves and this has compelled civil society to crave Your Excellency’s timely intervention.
We request that Your Excellency intervenes to ensure that your government gives final approval to the reduced nomination fees that has been agreed by the National Electoral Commission and all political parties.
Your Excellency, our second issue is about a Constitutional Amendment Bill, which is to be laid in Parliament that may alter the electoral system right in the middle of the current elections and restrict individual freedoms. We believe that attempts to amend the 1991 Constitution at this point in time may neither be in the interest of this nation nor in the democratic wellbeing of us as a people.
We have worked so hard on reviewing the Constitution and do not believe it needs to be muddled with another critical democratic process. We call on you to ensure that this process be handed over to the next democratically elected government after March 7 2018. The recommendations made are progressive and as citizens, we expect it to remain thus.
We are further concerned that sec 43b has been recommended to be changed from the 55% threshold to 50 +1%. The 55% thresh hold is significant as it ensures a lot more support for the Presidential candidate than the usual restricted or assumed strongholds.
The winner must have support across ethnic groups and regions further building social cohesion and hopefully dispensing with the Winner takes all system of governance.
Any action to legislate on issues related to the electoral process violates our obligations on the ECOWAS Protocol on Elections, Democracy and Governance.
Alternatively, we can conduct the elections with provisions of the 1991 Constitution if we cannot absorb the progressive recommendations presented by the Constitutional Review Committee.
In our reaffirmation as citizens to the upholding of the Constitution of Sierra Leone and in a bid to maintain the hard-earned peace and stability, we are peacefully calling on Mr. President and Parliament not to proceed with any such intentions of passing an Amendment Bill into Law at this crucial time in our history.
Kindly accept the assurances of our Highest Esteem.
Valnora Edwin- Campaign for Good Governance
Ibrahim Tommy – Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law
Mohamed Sillah- Action Aid Sierra Leone
Abu Brima- Network Movement for Justice and Development
Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai- Society for Democratic Initiatives
Andrew Lavali – Institute for Governance Reform
Santigie Kamara Sierra Leone Union of Disability Issues
Ngolo Katta – Centre for the Coordination of Youth Activities
Marcella Samba Sesay- National Election Watch
Boi Jeneh-Jalloh – FoRUT
Sallieu Kamara – National Civil Society Platform
NATIONAL ELECTION WATCH (NEW) is a Coalition of Civil and Nongovernmental Organizations
8 Sawi Drive, Off Kingharman Road, Freetown
We need free and fair election come 2018 march 7th.