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PPRC Warns SLPP to Behave or Face a Ban on their Party
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Aug 15, 2013, 17:10
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Let us here record a note of caution to the Party: The Commission has observed over the years that the Political Parties had been deliberately ignoring the Commissions admonition and recommendations on the pretext that they were not bound to accept them.  We think this is not the case. In this respect the Commission urges the SLPP to abide by the recommendations failing which the Commission reserves the right to invoke Sec 27 1 (b) which states: without prejudice to any other penalty prescribed by this Act or any other enactment, the Commission may apply to the Supreme Court for an order to cancel the registration of any political party where that party has contravened any provision of the Constitution or this Act. FULL TEXT FOLLOWS BELOW



 

A.    INTRODUCTION

The Political Parties Registration Commission received complaint from the Chambers of Brewah & Co., pursuant to Section 6.(2d) of the Political Parties Act 2002 which states:  without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1), it shall be the function of the Commission -  when approached by the persons or Parties concerned, to mediate any conflict or disputes between or among the leadership of any political party or between or among political Parties.  Presumably, pursuant to the above provision, the complaint, catalogued, several areas of conflict and disagreements relating to the ongoing Mini-Convention of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party.


On the 3rd July 2013, the Commission invited the Parties concerned with the complaint for deliberation. Due to the circumstances beyond the control of the Commission the matter was adjourned to the 13th July 2013.  On the 13th July 2013 the matter was exhaustively deliberated on and a decision on the matter reserved for a few days but at the instance of the Party, it was adjourned to 3rd August 2013.

 

B.     GENERAL CONDUCT

The Commission has on record the conduct of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party as a result of several investigations conducted by the Commission. These investigations revealed that the Party from time to time after the general elections had engaged itself in intra-party squabbles bordering on violence which had precipitated a constant breach of the peace, thereby violating one of the basic tenets of democracy i.e. freedom of speech.

It appears to us that under the guise of constitutional dispensation and political tolerance, the hierarchy of the Party treats all forms of abuse and insult as freedom of speech; and seemingly react when they are directed at individuals or a group of imaginary foe.

 

In the light of the above, the Commission calls on the leaders, elders, the rank and file and the different factions of the Oldest Party in our land to exercise restraint and keep the peace.  The Commission therefore reminds the Party of its obligation to uphold the democratic principles enshrined in Sec 35 (2) of the 1991 Constitution which states:

        The internal organization of a political party shall    conform to democratic principles and its aims,     objectives, purposes and   programmes shall not           contravene or be inconsistent with any provision of this Constitution.

From the foregoing the Commission calls on the Sierra Leone Peoples Party, as a Party to uphold its own Party Constitution and the National Constitution.

 

C.     THE MINI CONVENTION (ELECTION)

During the submission at the Commissions office it became obvious to us that there are two factions of the Party and both factions were guilty of breaches of their Partys Constitution and of the rule of natural justice audi alterem patem: the other side must be heard.  There was no effort in promoting intra party cohesion among the membership. The outcome of this, is that everybody was trying to win the argument; to the extent; that, for some of them, and in some cases, their contributions were negligible. Sometimes the argument nearly resorted in violence even in premises outside their partys headquarter and offices.


Having said this let me now continue with the issue before us. Both factions relied on their Party Constitution and gave different interpretation to the relevant provisions, governing the holding of the mini elections. They also relied on guide lines which turned out to be a mere time table for the conduct of the elections.

 

Lest I forget, let us point out that the Commission finds that the Partys Constitution contains several lacunae which create problems of interpretation. 

However, the Commission is heartened that there are moves on floor to review it .  We shall be too willing to help, so that what is contained therein will be in keeping with the provisions of Sec 34 and 35 of the National Constitution and the Political parties Act 2002.

 

D.      THE SLPP CONSTITUTION

The relevant provisions of the Constitution for purposes of this complaint are contained in Clause 4, which deals with Mini Elections.  Clause 4 E1 states:

        There shall be Regional Party branches in the three          provinces and in the Western Area; with Officers in the       three provincial Headquarter towns and in Freetown.

Clause 4 E. 4 states

        Regional Officials shall be elected by delegates (4 per district) from the district in the region biennially under the supervision of the Regional Vice Chairman and all       such elections shall be reported to the National           Executive Council for Approval.

Clause 4 E. 5 states

        Regional Party official shall be responsible for co-  ordinating party activities in the District and for regional    Party organisation.

Clause 4 E 7 states

        Election of District Party Officials (not exceeding ten)      shall          be done by delegates (three per constituency) from        constituency braches of the Party biennially under the supervision of the Regional Executive.

Clause 4 E 8

        District Party Branches shall be headed by District Chairman who shall work directly under the Regional       Chairman. They shall be members of the National    Executive Council.

 

I have quoted this clause  inextenso  to emphasis or highlight the roles the  District Chairman and Regional Vice Chairman play in these elections, some of which are now the subject of controversy.

 

I dare say the above provisions short of any amendment are fundamental, supreme and permanent as far as the holding of Mini-elections are concerned and Officials exercising certain powers when carrying out their functions must do so within the confines of the said provisions as these officials do not have unlimited powers.

 

The Commission also in resolving intra-party conflicts emanating from these elections must be guided by these provisions of the Partys Constitution.

 

It is obvious from all and sundry that these disputed elections emanate from the Northern region and the Western Area.

 

It is also clear to me that Dr. Bobson Sesay and Mr. Brima Keita are Regional Vice Chairmen for the Northern Region Executive and Western Area Executive respectively and that the elections including these disputed ones were or should have been held  under the supervision of the National Executive Council. Why I say, should have been, because some of these elections were held against the observance of the sanctity of the Constitution: and without the sanction by the appropriate body or individuals.

 

E.      FINDINGS

Before we go on to deal with the arguments and submissions, it is pertinent to point out that this Commission has a mandate from  the National Constitution to register Political Parties and Political Parties in turn should conform to the provisions of the National Constitution and the Political Parties Act.

 

We have carefully considered and analysed the submission of the respective Parties. We have painstakingly perused the various documents and listened to the discs submitted by both sides. 

 

We also took the opportunity to interview some members of the Party. Most of them turned out to be on either side of the spectrum.  The purpose for doing so was to tap objective opinion within the Party with respect to the disputed elections in particular and the unhealthy malaise pervading the Party in general.

 

The Commission knows that the Party is aware of the problems; but through cowardice, personality clash or otherwise is reluctant to address them.  However this is for another forum;

 

Let us now deal with the complaints before us; and in this respect, we now make the following findings on the complaints addressed to the Commission.

1. The Commission found out that there were flaws in the conduct of some of the elections.  There was no adherence to the Partys Constitution.  The document generally referred to as guideline turned out to be timetable for the holding of the Mini-elections.

2. That some of the elections were conducted without the approval and or supervision of  the National Executive Council, National Executive Officials, the Regional Executive Council or the Regional Chairman and District Chairman.

3. That Dr. Alusine Fofana was competent to conduct the  election being a former Regional Executive Official and was co-opted to do so.

4. The Commission found out that the Chairman was tardy in the annulment of some of the elections; which amounted to unreasonable delay in taking action on any irregularity.

5. The Commission found out that some of the elections were held in blatant disregard of lawful and sometimes in defiance of instructions.

6. Finally, the Commission found out that some of the elections were marred with insult, abusive language and violence.

 

Let us here record a note of caution to the Party: The Commission has observed over the years that the Political Parties had been deliberately ignoring the Commissions admonition and recommendations on the pretext that they were not bound to accept them.  We think this is not the case.

 

In this respect the Commission urges the SLPP to abide by the recommendations failing which the Commission reserves the right to invoke Sec 27 1 (b) which states: without prejudice to any other penalty prescribed by this Act or any other enactment, the Commission may apply to the Supreme Court for an order to cancel the registration of any political party where that party has contravened any provision of the Constitution or this Act.

 

I therefore implore the Parties involved to abide by the recommendations in consequence of the mediation exercise held by the Commission.

 

F.           CONCLUSION

In the interest of the Party, the country and peace, the Commission has irresistibly come to the following conclusion.

BOMBALI

   Constituency 029 and 031

There is no complaint before us with respect of the elections in the above constituencies. The Commission therefore cannot make any pronouncement on them.

   Bombali District Executive Election

The elections held  on the 25th May 2013 by Dr. Alusine Fofana is upheld.  The subsequent elections by Abu Abdulai Koroma is set aside as he had no authority to hold one.

 

In our view:  the disgruntled delegate should have reported the appointment of Dr. Fofana to conduct the elections to the appropriate authority: instead of holding another election. The Commission frowns at Party members taking the law into their own hands.

PORT LOKO

   The Zonal/ Chiefdom and Sectional Elections

These elections were conducted under the supervision of Dr. Abass Bundu and another conducted under the aegis of Dr. Bobson Sesay.

We think the elections supervised by Dr. Abass Bundu should stay for the simple reason that the second election is caught by the doctrine of laches - unreasonable delay.  If Dr. Bobson Sesay wanted to cancel the elections he should have done so earlier.  He should not have waited for two months or more before cancelling the elections and holding another one.

 

We therefore think Dr. Bundus  elections should stand.  It is upheld and that ordered by Dr. Bobson Sesay is set aside.

   Constituency Elections

The delay referred to when dealing with the Zonal/chiefdom elections apply here including the fact that the elections was froth with confusion, uncertainty, and doubt as to whether both elections were in fact held.  Therefore in the best interest of the electorate, constituencies and the Port Loko district as a whole, we have irresistibly come to the conclusion that the two elections should be cancelled and fresh elections held under the supervision of the PPRC within five days from today. The two previous elections are set aside.

   Port Loko District Executive Elections

Dr. Abass Bundu in his submission said he was instructed to conduct the elections by the Vice Chairman , Northern Region, Dr. Bobson Sesay, who later withdrew the instructions.  Nevertheless, he still went ahead and conducted the elections.  In our view this was a blatant disregard for authority. He should not have gone on with the elections.  The: elections by Dr Bundu cannot stand.  It should and must be set aside as it was held in defiance Of the  instruction to stop it.  The subsequent elections by Dr. Bobson Sesay was in place:  We therefore uphold the said elections.

   Northern Region:  Executive Elections

The complaint by Mr. Brewah was underway at the Commission, when the Commission learnt that the above elections was about to be conducted. And indeed it was conducted.  The Commission takes a dim view of such behaviour.  At least those who ordered the conduct of the elections should have waited for the outcome of the complaint, before embarking on another election.  We do not think the elections should stand.  Consequently the Commission is of the view that the said election should be annulled and another elections held within five days from today. Preferably under the supervision of PPRC.

WESTERN REGION

   Constituency 106

The Constituency Chairman Elect was petitioned that he was a voter at Moyamba and so he cannot hold the post of Constituency Chairman:  we therefore believe that the axiom  that a person who cannot vote, cannot be voted for apply here. 

 

We agree with the decision of the National Executive Officials that the runners-up should be accorded the position and confirmed as Constituency Chairman.

   Constituency 109

The Commission has looked at the Petition. We think that this petition should have been directed to the appropriate National Body.  In any case we did not see substantially cogent reasons to set aside the elections. The Commission thinks that the result should stay. It is upheld.

   Constituency 111

The petition that the list for the elections was endorsed by the Regional Chairman and not the District Chairman and elections held.  This petition was upheld by the National Executive Officers and another elections was held through the proper procedure. We therefore set aside the previous  elections  and uphold the second elections supervised by the District Chairman.

   Constituency 112

We at the Commission have evidence that this elections was marred with abusive language and violence directed at certain members of the Party:  The matter is now with the Police.  The Commission cannot tolerate such behaviour from Party members. In our view the elections held before, during and after the fracas cannot stand.  It is therefore annulled and set aside.  The election conducted at the party Headquarters in which our representative was present is upheld.

West West

We have information from our Officer that the elections was conducted in accordance with democratic norms and nothing on toward happened to mar the elections.  The election is therefore upheld.

   Central

Again our representative confirmed to us that the elections were violent free:  the Commission is satisfied that the elections were properly conducted.

   Regional Executive

This election again was witnessed and monitored by the PPRC Officer, Ms Lebbie.  She confirmed to us that the elections were properly conducted.  In this respect we see no reason to cancel the outcome.  The election is upheld.

 

Finally, regarding the election which we say should be conducted afresh: we urge the Party including the two factions to exercise patience in conducting the said elections in the spirit of peace and harmony and in accordance with the democratic principles of the Party and the National Constitutions.

SIGN______________________

         ______________________

           ______________________

 

SUMMARY

The Commission listened to the various statements and submissions by the relevant party members. 

 

We agree with Dr. Bundu that he should have been contacted by Dr. Bobson Sesay and his team when going for the election. We condemn and deprecate such action. It behoves all of us to maintain peace and harmony in the Party.  However, that is not to say that Dr. Bundu did not have any knowledge that elections were about to begin in the 10 constituencies indeed the information he got about the elections came from his own supporters.  In our view he should have made some presence more so when it turned out that it was the  list  he had, that was used for the elections.

 

It is also clear to us that some of the members who gave reasons for not taking part in the elections didnt take part for other reasons other than what they said. We neither share their views nor the insinuation in the reasons they proffered.  The   reason was a deliberate ploy to boycott the elections.

 

We have considered the statements and the information we have received so far and based on the circumstances, we have come to the conclusion that the elections were conducted by competent authority; who endeavoured to maintain, elementary and essential fairness in carrying out the elections in the  10 constituencies.

 

We therefore did not see any cogent and substantial reasons to disturb the elections.  The complaint is dismissed.

 

HON. JUSTICE M. E. TOLLA THOMPSON

CHAIRMAN

PPRC

 

We therefore did not see any cogent and substantial reasons to disturb the elections.  The complaint is dismissed.


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