Sparks are flying in the Sierra Leone political arena following the approval by Parliament of Mr. Mohamed Konneh as Electoral Commissioner. According to the Public Relations Office of the Sierra Leone Parliament : “Following a division, as per its rules of procedure, 78 Members of Parliament as per votes counted voted in favour of the nomination of the new NEC Boss. They include SLPP, PCMP, some C4C and NGC’, and “51 Members of Parliament including APC and some C4C voted against the nomination of the new NEC Boss. ”
MOHAMED KONNEH : UNQUALIFIED TO BE ELECTORAL COMMISSIONER
But the new National Elections Commission ( NEC ) Chairman was approved under a cloud of controversy as the opposition All People’s Congress ( APC) and some members of the opposition parties, the Coalition For Change ( C4C ) and the National Grand Alliance ( NGC ) as well as some members of the legal profession and the media are protesting that Mr. Konneh was not qualified because he did not resign from his previous post and also that he was a registered member of the SLPP.
According to the APC :
‘We are of the opinion that APC’s objection should be premised on three grounds. First, Mr. Konneh, as Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), is a public officer within the meaning of the Constitution, making him ineligible to be appointed Chairman of NEC. ‘
“Second, Mr. Konneh, as Director of the FIU, was an employee of a public corporation up to the time of his appointment as Chairman of NEC, making him disqualified from being so appointed. Third, President Bio’s appointment of Mr. Konneh goes against the intention of the drafters and spirit of the Constitution and the Public Elections Act No. 4 of 2012 (PEA 2012).”
According to Lawyer Ady Macauley :
Sparks are flying not only over the SLPP Government but over the Chairman of the NGC , Dr. Kandeh Yumkella and the c4c Parliamentary leader , Hon. Emerson Lamina, who voted in favour of approval of the new electoral commissioner, who are being accused by many Sierra Leoneans of betraying the cause of the people, knowing fully well that the electoral commissioner was not qualified for the appointment.
Mr. Kandeh Yumkella, in particular, has been described as a traitor to the Sierra Leonean cause by angry Sierra Leoneans in the social media.
As for Mr. Emmerson Lamina, his party, the C4C, responded to his action
PARLIAMENT APPROVES NEW NEC BOSS AND FIVE OTHERS
The Parliament of Sierra Leone has on Tuesday 28th July 2020 after an extensive debate approved six presidential nominees including the new Chairman and National Returning Officer of the National Electoral Commission (NEC).
Following a division, as per its rules of procedure, 78 Members of Parliament as per votes counted voted in favour of the nomination of the new NEC Boss. They include SLPP, PCMP, some C4C and NGC.
Whereas 51 Members of Parliament including APC and some C4C voted against the nomination of the new NEC Boss.
Therefore, Mohamed K. Konneh, following President Bio’s appointment has been duly approved as the New Boss of the country’s electoral management body.
Excluding the new NEC Boss, five of the presidential nominees were unanimously approved by Parliament.
The following presidential nominees were approved by Parliament:
1. Mohamed Kenewui Konneh-Chairman and Chief Electoral Commissioner
2. Ibrahim Bankapoma-Kamanpoon Kargbo-Member, National Commission for Privatisation
3. Vandi Lansana-Member, Board of Directors, Sierra Leone Local Contents Agency
4. Ballah Y. Koroma-Member, Board of Directors, NASSIT
5. PC Alimamy Lahai V-Board Member, NACSA
6. PC Madam Wokie Jojo Massaquoi-Board Member, NACSA
Seconding the motion, Hon. Bashiru Silikie advised the nominees to serve in the interest of the country and encouraged them to promote the agenda of President Bio. He described the New NEC Boss as a man who had successfully fought against corruption nationally and internationally; adding such a man would not preside over a corrupt electoral process. He referred to him as a man of competence and integrity to superintend over the affairs of NEC. In light of provisions in the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone, he said the new NEC Boss is qualified for the position he had been nominated for by President Bio.
Hon. Shiaka M. Sama, an independent MP from Pujehun described the New NEC Boss as a good replacement of his predecessor. Adding the nominee was a disciplined and an energetic man who believes in teamwork. He thanked President Bio for increasing women’s participation in governance in light of the appointment of PC Madam Massaquoi.
Hon. Alpha Bah of APC referred to the minutes of the excerpt report regarding deliberation and resolution, citing constitutional provisions which he thought are inimical to the appointment of the New NEC Boss. “Mr Konneh is not qualified to be the new NEC Boss”, he said.
Hon. Hindolo M. Gevao of SLPP said the nominee for the position of Chairman of NEC is qualified, citing precedents for appointments to public offices by the immediate past government. He also informed the House that the nominee is not seeking for election to Parliament, but rather an appointment by the President to serve as the Chief Electoral Commissioner of NEC .
Hon. Abdul Karim Kamara of APC thanked President Bio for appointing one of his constituents to serve in high offices of State. He described the appointment of the new NEC Boss as controversial and has the tendency to undermine the law and the House’s credibility; whilst speaking on the sensitivity of the appointment.
Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Segepoh Solomon Thomas advised the nominees to make a difference, unlike other nominees who had reneged on their duties and promises to Parliament. Recalling the approval of past Chairmen of NEC, he said it had not gone without scuffles. He also spoke about an issue relating to seeking interpretation from the Supreme Court on constitutional matters; adding the new NEC Boss is qualified for the position he had been nominated for by President Bio.
Hon. Saa Francis Bhendu of C4C questioned the voter registration ID of the new NEC Boss and requested for the data relating to same.
Hon. Ibrahim Ben Kargbo of APC said the future and the stability of the state lies primarily in the electoral process. Adding, the Chairman of the Electoral Commission “is someone in whom they should be certain”; saying Mr. Konneh is not qualified for the position and described his appointment as “an embarrassment”; contingent on occupying a statutory office before his appointment to NEC.
Hon. Kandeh Yumkella of NGC described NEC as the foundation and key institution that will ensure the will of the people. He also said that the NGC had suffered from electoral violence and fraud. He informed the new NEC Boss that NEC is already discredited and that he should do his best to change the narrative regarding the image of NEC. Seeking an advisory opinion, he said Mr. Konneh is not affected by Section 76 (1b) of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone and that areas of doubt should be referred to the Supreme Court for interpretation; whilst submitting the NGC’s support for the appointment of Mr. Konneh.
Leader of C4C, Hon. Saa Emerson Lamina said Mr. Konneh is “competently qualified to serve as the New NEC Boss”; and advised the nominees to serve well in their designated offices. He also said the appointment of New NEC Boss would allay the fears of donors by engendering confidence in the electoral process. He called on President Bio to consider financing of political parties in light of international best practice.
Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Chernor Bah made reference to a statement emanating from the APC stating an inconclusive consultative process relative to the appointment of the new NEC Boss. He said the nominee is a public officer and that he is not legally qualified for the position. He said previous Chairmen of NEC were appointed through a consultative process devoid of phone calls as in this case.
*Leader of Government Business, Hon. Mathew Nyuma recalled how the APC had abrogated the constitution by bypassing Parliament and unconstitutionally sacked the former Vice President, Chief Alhaji Sam Sumana.* On the appointment of the new NEC Boss, he said consultations were made; adding the constitution did not specify the mode of consultations. He described MPs as good legislators, but expressed disappointment relating to interference by outsiders whom he referred to as “pseudo politicians”. He informed the House that the New NEC Boss is qualified and competent for the position he had been nominated for by President Bio; whilst speaking on the need for effective oversight engagements by Parliament to hold the executive to account.
In another development, the Parliament of Sierra Leone has debated and approved five agreements geared towards strengthening technical and bilateral relations among Sierra Leone, Rwanda and Uganda.
Members of Parliament who contributed to the debate described the agreements as non-controversial and that they would improve economic, technical and bilateral relations among the three countries.
The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Solomon Jamiru Esq presented the agreements for ratification in Parliament.
Department of Public Relations
Parliament of Sierra Leone
*New NEC Boss Subscribes to Oath of Office at State House*
*_State House, Freetown, Tuesday 28 July 2020_* – The new Chairman and Chief Electoral Commissioner for the National Electoral Commission, NEC, Mohamed Kenewui Konneh, has today subscribed to the Oath of Office before His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio in accordance with the laws of Sierra Leone.
Shortly after the swearing-in ceremony, the new NEC boss said that he was deeply humbled and honoured by the opportunity to chair the country’s Electoral Commission, an institution entrusted with the responsibility of preserving the constitutional democracy through the conduct of free and fair elections.
“Your Excellency, I thank you for having faith in my abilities to discharge this vital national duty. I am deeply grateful too to Parliament and other political parties in Parliament for their support for my appointment.
“I am fully aware of the weight of the responsibilities and expectations that I am entrusted with, as Chairman of NEC. I am ready, willing and I have the competence to discharge these responsibilities with professionalism, integrity, and commitment to our country and all its citizens,” he said.
President Bio used the occasion to congratulate the new NEC boss for his successful approval in Parliament. He also reminded him of how difficult the new role was but noted that he had been meticulously chosen. He assured of his government’s support in helping him accomplish the task ahead.