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Paramount Chieftaincy Elections: Who Is Responsible?

Paramount Chieftaincy Elections: Who Is Responsible?

The deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, Local Government  and Rural Development in a recent statement said government through his ministry is responsible for the conduction of paramount chieftaincy elections, apparently realizing that he had made a mistake, the minister hastened to add the National Electoral Commission to his list.

The deputy minister has to inform the people properly about the role of government in an elections where the same government is claiming neutrality? How can the Minster of Internal Affairs and Local Government maintain its neutrality while at the same time be involved in the elections process?

The deputy made a lot of important points in statements  he made country wide, extolling the present government as having the proper laws and modalities in place for any attempt to derail from the right procedure.

But what is the right procedure when the Ministry of the government becomes the arbiter and at the same time an active part of the exercise.

By implications, the National Elections Commission is quite fit to do the job. If  Dr. Christiana Thorpe can be trusted with conducting the more challenging Presidential and Parliamentary elections, she can equally be trusted with overseeing paramount chieftaincy elections.

It is not the job of the Minister to explain how the laws and regulations will be interpreted or who will be punished. This is the job of Thorpe and her team, and they must be given chance to carry out this job.

There is also the need for the Ministry to allow space for the NEC to carry out the functions for which they were in fact created. The government will be better off peacefully withdrawing and allowing the chiefdom councillors to make their decisions.

Also, creating laws which discourage potential candidates to have their own supporters camping with them is akin to challenging democratic principles. The right of anyone to congregate and to support anyone of his or her choice is an inlaid part of our constitution.

Why, therefore, is it that a man who wants to camp and show allegiance to his friend with an interest in contesting on behalf of his Ruling House is forced because of draconian laws to avoid all what is part of the tradition of campaigning?

Creating one law for Tamba and another for Nathaniel does not serve the interest of a nation that is making efforts towards development. If we are talking of a democratic system of governance, we should also be talking of decentralizing this aspect to ensure that all aspects from the traditional to the presidential have access.

Beyond the claims of the Deputy Minister that there will not be any conflict of interest, one sees a looming fear from potential candidates that this will not be the case.

That a conflict of interest will be avoided because the National Electoral Commissioner for the North will be sent to the east while the one in the Western Area might be sent to the South.

Deputy Minister Raymond Kabia is apparently trying to show his boss that he is doing a good job. The danger however is that in his enthusiasm to gain prominence and respect, he might end up overreacting as in trying to take over the job of the national Electoral Commission and this will be contrary to the spirit of democracy.

It is important to note that in Sierra Leone, several decades of corruption have resulted in Paramount Chiefs automatically being considered as part of the government. This wrong misconception which was inherited from the Colonial British administration, has been taking full fledged by African governments in imitation of their former Colonial masters.

Now, all our paramount chiefs consider themselves as part of the executive and therefore all those aspiring to join this elitist group made exclusive for the convenience of the British monarchy has today lost its function and neutrality in the present day political game plan in the country.

All what Mr. Raymond Kabia is saying about the conduction of election for paramount chieftaincy is the true; the only problem is that the statement is coming from the wrong mouth.

One would have expected Chief Commissioner Dr. Christiana Thorpe or better still publicity boss Miatta French, to be the one making these statements as part of their functions.

While the paramount chieftaincy is supposed to be a partisan matter, politics has slowly crept into the issue and there is no way this cancerous growth can be eliminated by the words of a deputy minister trying to take over the functions of a neutral national Elections Commission.

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  • Great honour to christina Thorpe and teams for doing quality jobs in the process of all the elections in sierra leone. No partiality, no favourism for politician to inspire force and threats in local elections; so let the people make their choices. however, penalty should be impose on aspirants that are taking chances to corrupt chiefdoms; and those that doesn’t belong to a ruling houses. Merry christmas and a prosperous New year.

    28th November 2009

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