The main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) has laid bare, claims by the ruling All People’s Congress functionaries that the President did not have to sit with and consult with political party leaders in order to appoint Electoral Commissioners.
The Spirit and Letter of Section 32(3) of the National Constitution has been the subject of much debate culminating in the official position of the Government being that the President could hire and fire as & how he felt.
Contrarily, opposing views have held that unlike the One-Party Dictatorship of Siaka Stevens, the 1991 Multi-Party Constitution that is in force since October 1st 1991, dictates that in our current multi-party democratic setting, the President should sit and consult with political parties contesting multi-party elections when he wants to appoint those who should conduct the National Elections.
Well, the SLPP has now strengthened their case by releasing a Bombshell of a Letter originating right from State House which the SLPP insists, is evidence of the assertion that President Koroma knew what Section 32(3) demanded of him as clearly stated in this Letter from State House as follows: “Pursuant to the provisions of Section32 Sub Section3 of the Constitution, His Excellency the President intends to re-appoint Dr. Thorpe as Chief Electoral Commissioner/Chairperson of NEC after consultation with all registered political parties and subject to the approval of Parliament. To that end, he is desirous of holding such consultations with you at State House on Monday 26th April 2010 at 11.00a.m.”
Meanwhile, Extracts from the SLPP’s Press Statement concerning this Letter is below.
Sierra Leone People’s Party One Country; One People
EXTRACTS FROM SLPP’s MONTHLY PRESS BRIEFING (No.5)
Freetown – Tuesday, August 31st, 2010.
Despite our Party’s resolute position on the re-appointment of Christiana Thorpe as Chief Electoral Commissioner, the President has once again in blatant disregard of our views, without proper consultation with other political parties and irrespective of the current action in Court relating to the outcome of the 2007 elections; forwarded her nomination to Parliament for approval. And again despite a walk out by our Parliamentarians and their vehement opposition to the report of the Appointment Committee and other procedural impediments to her appointment in the well of Parliament; again the President’s nominee was approved by simple majority.
The SLPP insists that free, fair and transparent elections will only be ensured in an atmosphere of trust resulting from consensus reached by all the political parties and stakeholders both as to the composition of the Electoral Commission and the strategy and rules of engagement of the electoral process.
Before proceeding with today’s issues, we wish to address the important national discussions which have arisen over our Statement at one of our past Monthly Press Briefings that President Koroma was acting like a Dictator by ignoring the multi-party national constitution. In recent times, the issue of his re-appointment of Dr. Christiana Thorpe was related to his dictatorial behaviour. The SLPP considers that it is important for the Public to know the following issues that surround that re-appointment of Christiana Thorpe which appointment, we, as a party, are so vehemently against.
Since the beginning of April this year, our party newspaper and several other local tabloids reported on the SLPP’s planned 59th Anniversary Celebrations slated to commence in Bo and Kenema from April 22nd with a Sports in Bo Town until a Grand Gala Celebrations in Kenema slated for April 26th in Eastern town of Kenema. So it was that I was up in Kenema as was well advertised, on Monday April 26th 2010 when I got a phone call from SLPP Headquarters that Office of the President had sent an urgent Letter addressed to me. I asked for the Letter to be read out over the phone and I was surprised to note that it was dated April 22nd 2010 but we received it on that day April 26th 2010. It requested for me to meet with President Koroma for consultations at 11:00am that same morning in line with the demands of Section 32(3) of the National Constitution, over his intention to appoint the National Electoral Commissioner. A copy of that Letter will be distributed along with this Monthly Press Briefing. It clearly shows that H.E. President Koroma fully well knows that the Multi-Party Constitution of 1991 DEMANDS for him to sit down and consult with political party leaders before nominating anyone as Elections Commissioner.
I immediately picked up the phone from Kenema and protested to the Secretary to the President and the State Chief of Protocol that surely the President must realise that I was up in Kenema at that time as had been widely publicized over radios and newspapers so why choose such an awkward time for the proposed consultations and why send a back-dated letter to us? To my mind, there was some deceit behind it all. The Office of the President apologized to me and I was then promised that a fresh date would be communicated to me for the proposed consultations as demanded by Section 32(3) of our National Constitution.
On 11th May 2010, I received a letter dated May 6th 2010 from the Office of the President, which is also attached to this Press Briefing. It did not specify the exact date for the Consultations but instead suggested that in the meantime, we should forward our views on the matter. We then requested for a copy of the CV of Christiana Thorpe as we commenced nation-wide consultations amongst our members. On May 24th 2010, it was now clear to us that our membership was vehemently against Dr. Christiana Thorpe being re-appointed and we communicated this in writing to the President as well as our protest over his failure to consult with us over his appointment of Aiah Mattia as Electoral Commissioner for the Eastern Province. I requested for the proposed consultation with political party leaders to be set up as quickly as possible so we could discuss the issue as demanded by Section 32(3) of the National Constitution. That Letter is also attached to this Monthly Press Briefing.
To the shock and dismay of our party, whilst waiting for the expected date of the constitutional consultation with the President to be conveyed to us, the next information we received was that President Koroma had gone ahead and sent the name of Dr. Christiana Thorpe to Parliament with gross disregard for our views as a political party representing at least 48% of the electorate.
This act of disregarding the demands of Section 32(3) of our National Constitution is just the latest in his long list of similar actions surrounding Elections issues commencing from the illegal dismissals of Eddie Nyallay and Winston Minah on 12th November 2007 to the dismissal of Daphne Olu-Williams which all contravened Section 4 of the National Electoral Commissioner Act No. 1 of 2002 as well as the denial of their Benefits due to them which contravenes Section 5 of the National Electoral Commissioner Act No. 1 of 2002 until this latest action of sending the name of Dr. Christiana Thorpe in disregard of the serious concerns we have against her such as the issue of her contravening Section 78 of our National Electoral Act No. 2 of 2002 by nullifying 477 Polling Stations results onto her surreptitious forging of other people’s signatures without their consent.
What is the use of making Laws and having a Multi-Party Democratic National Constitution that binds us all if we have a President who ignores the Laws and the Constitution to do what he feels like doing and not what the Law tells him to do? How can we have a President swearing to uphold the Constitution only for him to go on and walk all over the very same Constitution that he was elected under?
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.