Chairman of the opposition controlled Kenema District Council has disclosed in an exclusive interview with this medium that the reason why he and Kenema City Council Mayor, Joseph S. Keifala, did not attend the just concluded stakeholders consultative conference on Constituency and Ward boundaries delimitation process, organised by the National Electoral Commission (NEC), was because the entire arrangement was being manipulated by the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) to perpetuate their stay in power.
Dr. Senesi Foday Mansaray said the SLPP had vehemently opposed the 2015 National Population and Housing Census and that since their view was communicated to stakeholders, including the government of Sierra Leone, no institution has responded, adding that in a free and fair democratic dispensation the views of the opposition must be heard.
He said that with regards to the boundary delimitation process in Kenema district, they have been running after Statistics Sierra Leone since 2013 to delineate between the district and city councils so that they would better understand the political and geographical divisions between the two councils, but unfortunately, they have been ignored.
“So how did they determine as to which area belongs to the district or the city councils? We are of the view that the boundary delimitation process is a done deal by the APC to hold on to power, so whatever contributions made by the people will not change anything.
“The APC has created safe seats in the south and eastern regions. In Gorama-Mende, they have created a seat so that they can ferry people from Tonkolili district to vote for them. The APC still wants to extend their stay in power, the electoral calendar has already been developed, including the civil registration, boundary delimitation, printing of voters lists, among others, so if we insist that we will not accept this boundary delimitation exercises, they will shift the 2018 elections and the APC will continue to be in governance. These are all tactics by the APC to destroy our democracy, the SLPP will not take it lightly with this government if they continue to hold on power,” he said.
According to NEC, Section 33 of the Constitution of the 1991 Sierra Leone gives them the mandate to conduct and supervise the registration of voters for all public elections and referenda.
NEC Operations Officer, Philip Koroma, insisted that the electoral body was charged with the responsibility of delimitating electoral boundaries and that they do review constituency boundaries at intervals of either five or seven years.
“In order to determine the population quota, Parliament needs to determine the number of constituencies into which Sierra Leone is to be divided. That is the total number of constituencies into which the country is to be divided that is the total number of Ordinary Members of Parliament.
“NEC also needs to determine the total population of Sierra Leone; that is the number of inhabitants, both citizens and non-citizens, by referring to the latest census data provided by Statistics Sierra Leone, which is the official body responsible for conducting the Housing and Population Census,” he said, adding that they were not against any individual or organisation raising concerns over the census report, rather carrying out their constitutional mandate.