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Sierra Leone News: Civil Society calls for elections before referendum

The Standing Together for Democracy Consortium, National Election Watch (NEW), Action Aid Sierra Leone and the wider Civil Society in Sierra Leone are calling for elections before referendum.
They said in a press statement released over the weekend “Civil Society has repeatedly called on stakeholders that all other activities that has the tendency of distracting and derailing the electoral process, such as the referendum, de-amalgamation and re-districting be deferred after the 2018 Electoral cycle; [and] that a comprehensive and final Electoral Calendar be adopted and adhered to by all stakeholders.”
The statement titled “CIVIL SOCIETY OF SIERRALEONE CALLS ON PARLIAMENT TO TAKE PROCATIVE STEPS AND RATIFY THE BOUNDARY DELIMITATION REPORT BEFORE THEM NOW” focused on the ongoing Parliamentary debate on Boundary Delimitation.
They noted, “The motion for debate by MPs presupposes that serious error was made by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) in its rollout of electoral activities, as the ratification of the delineated boundaries should precede any implementation of elections-related activities, including the on-going Civic and Voter Registration exercise.”
The release pointed out “The BD report had been presented to the Attorney General’s office since 16th November 2016 but failed to lay it before parliament. Besides NEC’s engagement with the Office of the Attorney General has started since October 2016; that Parliamentarians, Councillors, Political parties, National Commission for Democracy, Human Rights Commission, Security Agencies, Civil Society representatives among others, were fully represented in the Boundary Delimitation District Stakeholders Consultations and Validations processes across the country. The Consultations were chaired by members of the Boundary Delimitation Monitoring Committees – with a broad representation, including Civil Society Groups.
To this end they called on Government “ to show a lot more commitment to the electoral process by giving timely and adequate support to NEC to roll out activities in line with the Electoral calendar.”
They “urged all parliamentarians to prioritize and support the national interest over personal and political interests, by ratifying, without delay the BD report currently tabled in parliament, together with supporting the electioneering processes in its entirety.”
The release ended with a call “on all Sierra Leoneans to guard our young and fledgling democracy by participating and contributing positively to the various phases of the electoral Cycle. Civil society wishes to restate unequivocally that any attempt to derail the current electoral process will not be tolerated.”
By Ophaniel Gooding
Monday April 03, 2017

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