By Lansana Fofanah……………………..
Members of Parliament yesterday amended Section 38 sub sections 8 of Act No 6 of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone.
In his Second Reading of the Bill in the Well of Parliament, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara said that the said section under amendment was as to enable two constituencies which are Constituency 001 in Kailahun which became vacant due to the death of Honorable Patrick Foyah and Constituency 050 which was held by former Hon. Isata Kabia now Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs to conduct by- elections respectively.
The Minister said that the Bill is to provide for the use of existing registered voters for by- elections as the register of voters has not been reviewed or revised in accordance with sub section 8 of Section 38 of the Constitution. “The Bill contains one provision stating that the registration of voters and the conduct of elections in every Constituency shall be subject to the direction and supervision of the Electoral Commission, and the Commission should urged the register of voters to be revised at least once in every three years provided that where the register of voters has not been reviewed or revised in accordance with the provision by-elections will be conducted using the existing register of voters,”, he said.
Hon. Daniel Koroma of the ruling party said that the bill is very important, simple, straight forward as it serves a nationalistic purpose to represent constituencies that are lacking representation in Parliament.
Hon. Umar Param Tarawally of the opposition SLPP in his contribution said that laws are made by men for the conduct of society and since laws can be obsolete, they need to be updated to fit the current trend.
Hon. Tarawally said that where sub section 8 is to be amended the existing register that will be used should contain the names of only those registered voters who were registered and whose names are on the register of voters.
He said that the conduct of every aspect of elections should be vested in the hands of NEC and not the Police who have been playing central roles. “SLP is not an organ of NEC,” he added.
The Minority Leader Hon. Bernadette Lahai said that they don’t want to see a situation where 50,000 voters were registered previously and the new register made an addition to that number as there is tendency for that figure to reduce due to death or migration.
The Majority Leader Hon. Ibrahim Bundu said that vacancies in Parliament are caused by many circumstances including death and since Parliament is the House of Representatives, this bill will serve for the conduct of these two by-elections and any subsequent one that may occur before the general elections.
This Bill should have been amended in 2015 but due to the outbreak of the Ebola Virus it did not happen.
81 MPs voted in favor of it, 5 voted against it and 33 were absent.