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NEWS : Politics  

SLPP Raises Alarm on Constitution & Elections Laws
By
Oct 31, 2011, 12:32
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The main opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) has sounded an alarm over attempts by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to get Parliament to unconstitutionally amend the Electoral Laws so as to enable NEC to invalidate ballots in elections.


In a release signed by Secretary-General Sulaiman Banja Tejan-Sie, the SLPP referred to September 2007 invalidation of 477 polling stations due to alleged over-voting. They reminded that the allegation of over-voting in those stations was never substantiated by NEC with any form of evidence; giving an impression of arbitrariness.

 

The Release also reiterates the partys opposition to the renewal of Dr. Christiana Thorpe as NEC Boss.


However, the most pertinent aspect of the SLPP Release is their claim that any Parliamentary enactment purporting to give NEC the power to invalidate votes in an election is challengeable as a usurpation of the powers granted to the Courts in Sections 45 and 78 of the Constitution and accordingly, ultra vires the Constitution.

 

The SLPP warns strongly that unless parties are satisfied with the ground rules and can attest to the transparency, fairness and credibility of the elections by NEC, then democracy, peace and security will be gravely imperiled.

 

It is to avert such danger that the SLPP has called upon the Political Parties Registration Commission to intervene.


However, other legal pundits have dismissed the position of the SLPP.

Sections 45 and 78 references petitions sent to the High Court after a candidate has been duly declared as elected by NEC and there is a question about the decision of NEC. These sections do not cover situations before the actual declaration of a person having been duly elected. So the stated position of SLPP is in itself a constitutional nullity, a senior barrister requesting for anonymity opines adding, Invalidating votes will not contravene Constitution as NEC is empowered in the same Constitution with the powers to make statutes to ensure conduct of legitimate elections. In my view, Dr. Christiana Thorpes team is on the right track.


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