Acting Publicity Secretary of the main opposition Sierra Leone Peoples (SLPP) has urged President Ernest Bai Koroma to work closely with the National Electoral Commission(NEC), without delay, to announce a date for the forthcoming Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Council elections, adding that there should be no excuse from any state authority to fulfilling that constitutional mandate.
Lahai Lawrence Leema told Concord Times in an exclusive interview that it was the responsibility of the president to announce the date for any election in the country, stating that it was unfortunate that in the past months President Koroma and NEC have been dragging their feet on announcing the exact date for the 2018 elections, despite calls from civil society coalition National Elections Watch and other international organisations.
“No if, no but, the president must tell us the date for elections. We are very much concerned because this is part of the democratic process. The president has told us that he is ruling in line with the constitution of Sierra Leone,” he said and further noted that early announcement of elections date would be very much helpful for political parties to prepare well head of 2018
“We want to do this very properly. We need transparency and accountability in our governance structure. NEC has already put out a formidable calendar for these elections, so why is the president reneging on his responsibility to announce the date,” he said, adding that at the end of it all, those who were contesting would know when to resign from public offices.
The National Election Watch (NEW) in November issued a press statement calling on the National Electoral Commission (NEC) “to declare by proclamation, the specific date the elections would be conducted in February 2018.”
NEW Chairperson Madam Marcella Samba-Sesay said “by law, for anyone to contest the election as Member of Parliament, such a person if paid from the Consolidated Fund, must resign his or her employment twelve (12) months before Election day.
NEW was equally concerned that the undue delay in pronouncing dates for the multiple elections would not create a level playing field in the electoral arena, since the Chief Electoral Commissioner, in consultation with the president, sets the date.