As expectations for the conduct of Sierra Leone’s General Election grows uncontrolled come 2018, doubts are that date may be shifted to late 2019- no doubt a ‘more time’ strategy.
Constitutionally, date for the holding of any General Election needs announced at latest a year preceding such an election.
The delay, if not calculated refusal to announce date for elections, in the estimation of right thinking members may be that the ruling All People Congress party and the National Electoral Commission are certainly not ready to hold election in exactly February 2018 as by law mandated.
Recently, in his new year’s speech to Sierra Leoneans, President Koroma gloriously but cleverly said that electoral processes will soon start, but failed announcing the exact date for the conduct of election.
Contemplations are that the APC’s years of publicized shift of election date from 2018 to presumably late 2019, or as they put it “more time,” looks like gradually becoming a reality owing to perceived manipulations by the powers that be, the weary electorates said.
Their allusions no doubt relate to government’s negative response in the lifting of the state of public health emergency, which came into effect months after ebola knocked the soil of Sierra Leone in 2014, but was eliminated in 2015.
Our findings are that section 87 of the 1991 constitution borders on extension of the term of office of the President in circumstances that the country is in a state of emergency.
And here is what it says verbatim:
Section 87 (1) General election of the Members of Parliament shall be held not earlier than thirty days and not later than ninety days after any dissolution of Parliament,
“Provided that nominations for such elections shall in no case be closed within fourteen days after dissolution.
(1) If, when Parliament has been dissolved the President considers that owing to the existence of a state of public emergency it would not be practicable to hold a general election within ninety days after the dissolution the President may by Proclamation recall the Parliament that has been dissolved and the following provisions shall then have effect-
a. the Parliament shall meet at such date not later than fourteen days after the date of the Proclamation as may be specified therein
b. the President shall subject to the provisions of subsection (16) of section 29 cause to be introduced in Parliament as soon as it meets a resolution declaring that a state of Public emergency exists and subject as aforesaid no other business shall be transacted in Parliament until that resolution has been passed or
c. if the resolution is passed by Parliament with the support of the votes of not less than two-thirds of the Members thereof a general election shall be held on the last day of the period of six months beginning with the date of the original dissolution of the Parliament which has been recalled or such earlier date as the
President shall appoint and the Parliament that has been recalled shall be deemed to be the Parliament for the time being and may meet and may be kept in session accordingly until the date fixed for nomination of candidates in that general election and unless previously dissolved shall then stand dissolved;
d. if the resolution is defeated or is passed with the support of the votes of less than two-thirds of the Members of Parliament or has not been put to the vote within five days after it has been introduced, the Parliament that has been recalled shall then be again dissolved and a general election shall be held not later than the ninetieth day after the date of the Proclamation by which the Parliament was so recalled or such earlier date as the President may by Proclamation appoint.”
The above section, a lawyer who asked for his name not to be mentioned said, may probably be used in manipulating the extension of the general election from 2018 to maybe late 2019, thereafter do handing over in 2020.
But whether or not elections may take place in 2018 is still an unanswered question from either management of NEC or office of the President respectively.