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Chieftaincy Elections in Sierra Leone!

Chieftaincy Elections in Sierra Leone!

The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development in collaboration with the National Electoral Commission (NEC), is in the heat of conducting phased elections for over 60 Paramount Chieftaincy elections across the country.

The first tranche of about fifteen chiefdoms in the south-east and north-west regions including Sambaia Chiefdom in Tonkolili district, Barri Chiefdom in Pujehun, Ribbi Chifdom in the Kambia District, Lugbu Chiefdom in Bo District and Mousaia Chiefdom in the Koinadugu District have already been faced with myriad of problems and disputes that threaten the peaceful conduct and outcome of the said elections.

From time immemorial, Chieftaincy election has been marred with violence and endless litigations, notwithstanding huge government resources poured into conducting them. Inherent in the contentious nature of Chieftaincy elections is the integrity of Traditional Authorities (TAs), who have the exclusive right to vote and determine candidates for chieftaincy and accusations of political interference and false declarations.

Usually, candidates from ruling families or houses lay claim of right to the throne by a convincing historical narration linking their right to their forefathers in the period before independence in 1961. Members of a ruling house must have descended from a pre-colonial warrior Chief or King, which makes the whole affair complicated and cumbersome as the family tree over the years had grown so many branches from the several wives of a warrior Chief.

The warrior Chief, as the name implies, became Chief by might, not by a democratic right; a rule by the strongest and the fittest. With laws and policies establishing the institution of Chieftaincy and bringing sanity into its governance, an element of democracy and election has been sought and followed over the years. But alas, the struggle continues unabated!

Our thinking, to reduce the killings, disputes and tensions that characterize Chieftaincy elections; and save the colossal wastage of much-needed Government resources is to make chieftaincy rotational and time bound. This approach will give equal opportunity to all ruling families within a legitimate ruling house in the order of first-come-first-serve.

We also firmly believe that such an arrangement will be in the interest of consolidating peace and unity at Chiefdom level. We are therefore urging the Government of the day to re-calibrate the formula in the Act by putting a timeframe to the rule of a Paramount Chief and making their rule rotational in order of seniority in a given ruling house.   

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