Largely, it can be agreed that Sierra Leone is a politically polarized country, and its people are very sacrosanct in support towards their political ideologies and doctrines; which have been criticized by many Civil Society Groups, and some experts in national development, as they consider such to have the tendencies and have even been some of the contributing factors towards the snail-pace move of our development as a country.
As the election draws closer, the discussion around its commencement has been held in the four corners of the country, of which the citizens have great concern. Elections, in modern-day democracy, have been seen as an avenue through which citizens exercise their inherent right, in most cases to express their dissatisfaction or gratitude towards a government. This event gives citizens the chance to hold their government accountable, participate in politics, determine the legitimacy of a government, show-casing their patriotism, and in some cases test the popularity of their leaders.
The conduct of elections in Sierra Leone is a responsibility that is carried out by the National Electoral Commission, an institution established by an Act of Parliament, by virtue of section 2 of the National Electoral Commission Act, 2002; in the consolidation of section 32 of the 1991 Constitution, which makes provision for the establishment of such commission. The functions of the National Electoral Commission are slated in section 33 of the 1991 Constitution and any other law that may be enacted by Parliament, of which the aforementioned section provides that the commission will be responsible for the registration of voters, the conduct of all public elections and to make regulations by statutory instrument for the conduct of Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government elections.
Now, to the appointment of dates for the various elections in Sierra Leone and who is responsible for such, for which the Public Elections Act, 2012 will be considered. This is an Act that was legislated to consolidate and amend the law on public elections, to make provisions supplementary to sections 32 and 33 of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone with respect to the Electoral Commission and for other related matters.
For the conduct of Parliamentary Elections, section 57 of the Public Elections Act, 2012 provides that the date for such elections shall be appointed by the President through a Government Notice after consultation with the National Electoral Commission.
For the conduct of Local Government Elections, section 103 of the Public Elections Act, 2012 provides that such date will be appointed made through a proclamation by the President in consultation with the Electoral Commission.
To the appointment of date for the conduct of Presidential Elections, which is the bone of contention among citizens, and has an explanation that is bulk in nature. Section 43(1) of the Public Elections Act, 2012 provides that such election shall be held to fill a vacancy in the Office of the President as set out under subsection (1) of section 46, for which we will be considering paragraph (a) as it addresses the subject matter; which is the expiration of term in office. Further, subsection (2) of section 43 of the Public Elections Act, 2012 provides that such vacancy to be filled will be done by the conduct of a Presidential Elections which the Commission will declare by a proclamation made in consultation with the President. Section 43(3)(a) of the aforementioned Act states that the conduct of such election is to be determined subject to section 43 of the 1991 Constitution. Section 43 of the 1991 Constitution provides that Presidential election shall take place in, which paragraph (a) will be taken into consideration as it has to do with the effluxion of time.
The paragraph provides thus, a presidential election shall be conducted during the first three months of the four months period he has if he is still in office after his term could have expired by effluxion of time. As mentioned earlier, and as provided in section 43(2) of the Public Elections Act, 2012 the Commission shall conduct an election for the vacancy to be filled and which shall be declared by proclamation after consultation with the President, through which the Electoral Commission shall appoint a date for the election.
Citizens should note that elections are held in the consolidation of the democracy we practice as a country, and we should not whittle that down by being oblivious of the fact that their votes should reflect how they feel and what they would want to see as a country. We should move away from that old-vague mentality of voting for the folks we grew up with, or the ones that mostly offer us material things, but electing those individuals who will deliver when elected into office and will uphold the precepts of democracy while serving us.
As we anticipate the election date, we should get these at the back of our minds, and they should help us vote wisely;
Sierra Leone needs a better economy
We should not be crying for the basic amenities we should enjoy
Our children should have a better future
We need a better educational system
We need a government we can hold accountable
Sierra Leone should be up to standards with its contemporaries