By Lawrence Williams
The absence of a fixed date for the conduct of presidential and general elections in any country invariably creates room for abuse of incumbency, especially in some parts of Africa where democratic dictators tend to hold office in perpetuity.
Now that it has become clear as crystal that this regime’s waning popularity will not stand the test of time in the next presidential polls owing to its maladroit handling of the economy and issues of rampant corruption, tribalism and nepotism that have characterised President Bio’s (photo) administration, thus putting our democracy in peril, the government should declare an election date as early as possible in the best interest of the nation so that citizens minds can be at rest with the hope that this government does not intend to commit any more constitutional infraction by adding more time to the life of the presidency beyond what the constitution prescribes.
With local council elections set to hold this year and the presidential and parliamentary elections slated for next year, it is imperative to make such early pronouncements in order to give ample time to civil servants and other public officers who might be interested to contest for elective positions to resign as per applicable laws and be able to prepare in time for the polls.
The constitution (Act No.6 of 1991) dictates that presidential elections shall be conducted every five years (section 46) whilst the Local Government Act 2004 stipulates that local council elections shall be conducted every four years (section 5). These laws set the parameters for the conduct of national elections in Sierra Leone.
We also understand from the Public Elections Act 2012 that the date for conduct of presidential elections shall be appointed by the Electoral Commission after consultation with the president (section 43), whilst the time for local council elections shall be made known by a Government Notice after consultation with the president (section 103).
Granted that the president wields so much power in determining the conduct of both elections, it is of extreme importance to beckon Julius Maada Bio and the Electoral Commission whose head and some other staff were appointed in a rather controversial setting to do the needful, and do it now!