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NOTICES & DOCUMENTS  

PRESS RELEASE: PARAMOUNT CHIEFTAINCY ELECTIONS BIRIWA CHIEFDOM, IN SIERRA LEONE
By National Electoral Commission
Aug 14, 2006, 19:24
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The election process of Paramount Chief for the Biriwa Chiefdom, Bombali District has dragged for a long time as a result of controversy over the compilation of Chiefdom Councilors' List and the Declaration of Rights Ceremony, by the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development. In the latter exercise (Declaration of Rights), a sole candidate (Dr. Issa M Sheriff) was declared. A High Court Injunction dated 26 July 2006, restrained the sole candidate from contesting the election, previously scheduled for 28th July 2006. An attempt to conduct the election on the said date was vehemently opposed and aborted by the action of demonstrating women in the fore and men at the background.

 

A reconciliatory mission was sent to Kamabai on Wednesday 2 August 2006. As a sequel to this mission, on Monday 7 August a team of eminent personalities, led by the Minister of Local Government, including the Chairperson of NEC went on a further fact finding mission to Kamabai, Chiefdom headquarter town of Biriwa.           

 

Whilst awaiting reaction to the mission, 'the Commission received a letter dated 9 August 2006, from the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Local Government and Community Development requesting that the Commission goes ahead to conduct the election today, Friday 11 August 2006.

 

In reply to the Commission in a letter dated 10 August 2006, informed the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry that it cannot conduct the election for the following reasons: ­

 

1. The aforementioned court injunction

2. Controversy over the councilors' List

3. Risk, of violence erupting in the Biriwa chiefdom

 

The above situation notwithstanding, the Commission received an envoy from State Lodge, In the person of Alhaji S E Magana, the Provincial Secretary Southern Province,  asking the Commission to hand  over election materials so that the  Local Government Ministry can conduct the election.

 

At a meeting between the Commission and the envoy, the Commission refused to handover election materials to the envoy on the grounds that this action would violate the Commission's independence as stated in Section 32 (11) of the 1991 Constitution:

"In the exercise of any functions vested in it by this Constitution, the Electoral Commission shall not be subject to the direction or control of any person or authority"

 

Section 33 spells out the functions of the Commission as follows: the Commission

shall be responsible for the conduct and supervision of the registration of voters for, and of, all public elections and referenda; and for that purpose shall have power to make regulations by statutory instrument for the registration of voters, the conduct of presidential, Parliamentary or Local Government elections and referenda, and other matters connected therewith, including regulations for voting by proxy. "

 

Christiana AM Thorpe
Chief Electoral Commissioner/Chairperson
Friday 11 August 2006

 


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