By Aruna Turay & Prince Kamara
Residents of Constituency 110 in Goderich community and its environs have expressed dismay over what they referred to as “a willful act of not allowing them to have a representation in the House of Parliament for close to two years now.”
Speaking to AYV newspaper before press time last evening of Tuesday 28th January 2020, the residents say after their decision was overturned by the judiciary of Sierra Leone in unseating the former elected Member of Parliament for the Constituency, Hon. Kadijatu Davies.
It can be recalled that the High Court of Sierra Leone on Friday 31st May, 2019 revoked the parliamentary seats of ten opposition party legislators, including that of Constituency 110’s 2018 elected Member of Parliament, Hon. Davies.
The unseated MPs were being prosecuted for alleged breaches of electoral law linked to the legislative elections which took place in March 2018.
The court also ordered an election re-run for the seat and on Saturday August 24, the same year, the re-run was done. Unfortunately, the result was cancelled the following day by NEC’s Chief Electoral Commissioner Mohamed N’fah Alie Conteh following some allegations of electoral malpractice and unrest.
Since then, the Constituency has been unrepresented in parliament and according to its residents, the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), the main opposition All People’s Congress (APC) party and the National Electoral Commission (NEC) has done little or nothing to let them have representation in parliament.
The residents say following this non-fulfillment, they are currently facing numerous challenges which include uncontrolled and uncounted for illegal sand mining, continued lack of water and electricity supplies, bad roads network, economic, educational, health and many more other challenges which would have been advocated for to be addressed in Parliament should they have got a Member of Parliament representing them in the House.
The residents used this medium as an opportunity to send an appeal to both political parties and the NEC, whiles also calling on international partners to urge the Government of Sierra Leone to conduct an election for them to get them a new MP so that their issues will be facilitated and addressed in Parliament.
Speaking on behalf of NEC, Head of Media and External Relations at the National Electoral Commission (NEC), Albert Massaquoi said among other things that towards the end of 2019, the Commission issued a press release informing the public and political party stakeholders about the issue and why NEC postponed the conduct of the 2019 Constituency 110 parliamentary re-run election and two other by-elections in the Western Area Rural District.
According to him, “The Commission had stated clearly by the close of the year (December) 2019 that the Commission was unable to conduct these three particular elections; but the Commission made a commitment that before the end of the first quarter of 2020 (January, February and March) the Commission will ensure it conducts these elections because they are outstanding elections.”
He recalled that, in 2019 NEC received a court order to re-run the constituency 110 election. “We did it, but unfortunately, it ended in confusion and trouble and the Commission annulled the whole process,” Mr. Massaquoi said.
He went on to say that it happened that the Commission had a series of other activities in the conduct of by-elections; but that the Commission was only able to conduct successfully elections in Constituency 043 in Fabala and up to about ten by-elections. “After these were concluded, we had run out of time to conduct the 110 by-election that was like two weeks into the Christmas festive season; that is why the Commission put out a press release saying it had postponed this particular election to be conducted not later than the first quarter of 2020,” Mr. Massaqoi maintained.
He went further to state that the good thing about this particular election is that the Commission is not going to start planning from scratch. He added: “What that simply means is that we do not have to do nominations again; everything is already in place – we know the candidates and ballot papers are there; we would just have to produce them; open up the centers – but we would first meet with political parties, meet with the security apparatus for them to reassure NEC of security. NEC on its part has no problem conducting the election. Our main issue is security. We can put everything in place but without security, everything could go back to square one.”
He went on to say that immediately after the unfortunate event last year, the NEC management met with the Inspector General of Police, AIGs and other senior security officers to express their disappointment and to see how this would not repeat itself when NEC gives a date to re-run this particular election.
He agreed that it is the right of the people in the aforementioned constituency to elect their representative and that is what NEC is ensuring would happen before the end of the first quarter of 2020.