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Sierra Leone News: As Local Council Elections postponed…Opposition MP Worried

hon musterphaMembers of Parliament (MPs) on Thursday unanimously approved the Local Government (Amendment) Act, 2016 that provided for the “postponement of Local Council Elections” not beyond the National Presidential Elections, which was supposed to be held in November, 2016.
Opposition MP, Hon Mustapha Brima said “we are facing this amendment is not controversial but my only worry and I will make it a caution that this will not drag on to affect the General Presidential and General Elections”.
Responding, the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Mr. Maya Kaikai said “let me allay your fears. The General Election will be held in 2018 and nothing will change that”.
Presenting the Bill to MPs before the adoption, Mr. Kaikai said the proposed Amendment of Section five of the Local Government Act 2004 is for the purpose of extending the tenure of office of Councillors in certain instances when elections cannot be conducted within the timeline stipulated by law.
He added that Amendment of Section eight of the Statutory Instrument No. 16 of 2005 is for the purpose of extending the tenure of office of the Village/Town Heads in the Western Area Rural District, so it is aligned with the current tenure of the office of the Councillors.
Mr. Kaikai explained that “the Bill is to amend the Local Government Act 2004 to provide for the postponement of Local Council Elections where localities have not been divided in to Wards in accordance with regulation two of the Wards (Boundary Delimitation) Regulations 2008 (Constitutional Instrument No. two of 2008) so as to afford the Electoral Commission time to undertake Wards boundary delimitation and for other related matters”.
He said “Government is cognizant of the huge financial implications for conducting elections, especially at the time when we are embarking on the post ebola recovery programme. Therefore, I want this honourable House to consider and approve the proposed amendments to facilitate the speedy implementation of the boundary delimitation exercise and to prepare for the conduct of Local Government elections”.
Proffering their views on the Bill before it was approved, Ruling MP, Hon. Abubakarr Koroma said if you go to Section 38 (1) of the 1991 Constitution and section 2 (1) of the Wards and Boundary Delimitation Regulation, it mandated National Electoral Commission (NEC) to delimitate Constituencies and Wards respectively adding that Section 38 (4) of the 1991 Constitution and Section 2 (6) of the Regulation empower NEC to review the division of Sierra Leone to constituencies and Wards respectively but since this has not been done it is but fitting that the Local Council Elections be postponed until NEC do all what they have to do for a credible elections.
Hon. Sidie M. Tunis said the amendment is simple but very important stating that it is definite that they cannot have a Local Council Elections which should have been done this November because of circumstances beyond their control.
“Postponing the election itself is that of resources. I am wondering what will happen when we are approaching 2018. We have heard on several occasion people talking about more time. Is this the beginning of more time?” he asked.
The Ruling MPs were supporting the approval of the Bill while the Opposition were supporting but raising concerns on issues around the 2018 Presidential Elections and the just concluded Census Result which they are challenging.
By Emmanuella Kallon
Friday June 17, 2016

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