The President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) Umaru Fofana made positive hints on reviewing the country’s election laws to prevent political party officials not residing in a locality or constituency a bye-election is to take place from frequenting those places on polling days and to prevent the conduct of bye-elections of any form in the year a general elections is to take place.
Umaru Fofana made hint of the need to review the nation’s electoral laws at a press conference held by the APC at the party’s national secretariat today in a double barrel question posed to both the National Secretary General Victor Bockarie Foh and National Publicity Secretary Hon. Alpha Khanu.
In having his bite on the question as to whether he thinks it prudent for bye-elections not to be conducted in the year of a general election, Hon. Alpha Khanu described the idea as excellent and urged Umaru Fofana to make his concern known to the law reform commission which is presently in the process of reviewing some of the country’s laws to ensure to meet internationally acceptable standards.
He opined it would be a good thing for such a law to come into existence as it will mitigate the brewing of tension between rival political parties in an election year stating further that even if such law is considered prudent it would not be applicable to the November 17th elections as the law reform commission is expected to present its recommendations for amendments to the laws of Sierra Leone to the next parliament that would be constituted after the November 17th elections.
National Secretary General Foh in responding to the question whether he thinks there should be law restricting party officials not resident in a Ward or constituency where a bye-election is to be conducted answered in the affirmative and pointed out that no party official from the APC national secretariat was present in Ward 369 while the election was in progress. He maintained the only APC party officials that were in the Ward were members of the constituency executive including the sitting MP Hon Tunde Lewally, insisting they have the moral authority to be there.
Unlike the opposition SLPP whose national secretary general Sulaiman Banja Tejan-Sie and other senior executives like Manso Dumbuya, Tamba Sam and Alie Bangura, who are alleged to have masterminded the violence that marred the conduct of the just concluded bye-election and do not actually reside in the Ward, Foh maintained no APC national executive functionary was in the Ward and that Ministers of Government who went to the Ward went there as functionaries of government and not the APC.
Commenting on the SLAJ President’s hint, Secretary General of the APC National Youth League Bai Mahmoud Bangura said it would indeed be prudent if such laws are enacted as part of the country’s electoral laws as such laws would go at lengths in addressing some of the root cause of election violence that continue to pose a threat to the conduct of violence-free elections in Sierra Leone.