By Lawrence Williams
The Attorney General and Minister of Justice on Wednesday tabled in Parliament a Bill entitled the Political Parties Regulation Commission Act 2022. The Bill provides for the continuation of the Political Parties Registration Commission under a revised name, the Political Parties Regulation Commission (PPRC).
In addition to its regulatory role for political parties, the Bill seeks to ensure women have a safe seat to contest all public elections and guarantees them a place in the national executives of their respective political parties.
Among other things, Section 41 of the Bill requires political parties to award women with a minimum of 30 percent of their symbols for public elections and at least 30 percent of their executive positions as well, both at the ward and national levels.
The Bill proposes that persons with disability (PWDs) should also be given the space to hold executive positions in their respective political parties at all levels.
The Bill prescribes penalties for potential breaches of the aforementioned provisions. It proposes a fine of Le25 million, including a severe sanction of disqualifying parties from submitting nominations for elections in cases of outright violation.
The provision of safe seats for women to contest public elections is also included in the Bill entitled Public Elections Act 2022 which is under pre-legislative scrutiny in the House of Parliament.
Specifically, this Bill will repeal and replace the Public Elections Act of 2012. It seeks to provide supplementary provisions to section 32 and 33 of the 1991 Constitution (Act No.6) regarding the establishment and functions of the Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone (ECSL), and addresses other election related matters.
Section 56 of the Bill provides 30 percent reserved seats in each district for parliamentary elections. However, the Bill does not specify who or which category of people these seats should be reserved for, but its proponents say they are allocated to women.
While the PPRC Bill had already passed First Reading, the Public Elections Bill is currently in the pre-legislative stage.