Sierra Leone: Referendum on Constitution to be Held September

By Stephen V. Lansana

The President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, President Ernest Bai Koroma said that his government is in the concluding phase of a white paper for a new constitution.

President Koroma said in his broadcast address to the nation on Tuesday, February 14, 2018, that the white paper will be tabled in Parliament in due course as provided by law.

He said that if Parliament enacts the white paper, a referendum on the new constitution will take place before the end of September this year in line with ECOWAS protocols on Democracy and Good Governance.

“As envisioned by our Constitution, and in line with established practice, I have again instructed my office to put forth a public notice announcing that parliamentary and local council elections will be held a little over one year from now on March 7th, 2018,” President Koroma said.

“Having consulted with me, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) will also announce that the presidential elections shall take place on the same date. With my government’s support, NEC and the National Registration Commission have further indicated their readiness to commence registration for electoral and related activities.”

The President said elections are an expensive enterprise, noting that conducting a national registration, referendum, local council, parliamentary and presidential elections requires substantial resources.

He said: “My government has already committed billions of Leones to the exercise, and we are engaging our international partners to support us fill some of the funding gaps and capacity needs we have identified in the elections process.”

He said the engagements are critical to the overall success of the elections. “That is why we are insisting that these partnerships must render elections that are free, fair, credible and reflective of the will of the Sierra Leonean people.”

“I strongly believe that Sierra Leone will once again deliver free, fair and credible elections. Though we still face challenges, our democracy is growing stronger, our resolve to build on our democratic gains remains unshakeable, men and women of goodwill in all parties, both within and outside the country, young and old, in the executive, parliament and the judiciary, in every profession and field of endeavour, together this country will continue to be a beacon of unity of purpose, freedom, justice and democracy,” he emphasized.

“Our country is building a democracy. We have held regular elections since 1996. During every one of our four general elections since that year, we have moved forward to take charge of our destiny, strengthen our democratic agencies, and create greater awareness on the relevance of participation for everybody, in every town, in every district and in every region of our country.”

He called on all Sierra Leoneans to continue to support the strengthening of our democracy.

“As President, I am under oath to maintain law and order, peace, security, and the democratic character of the Republic of Sierra Leone. And I will use all the powers vested in my office to continue to ensure peace, security, law and order during the electoral cycle,” he said.