By Ibrahim Tarawallie
The Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI) has slammed the government for the deliberate delay to appoint the Chairperson and Commissioners of the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC)
The PPRC was among the boards and commissions dissolved by President Julius Maada Bio through a press release in June 2018.
Since then, there have been calls from the public and some civil society organizations for the constitution of the commission as a result of seeming political violence, among other issues by political parties.
“We don’t want a repeat of the same situation where Commissioners of the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone were only appointed in February 2019 after several calls and criticisms,” CHRDI Chief Executive, Abdul M. Fatoma said
In an interview with Concord Times at his Pademba Road office, Mr. Fatoma, said the delay has rendered the commission handicapped in resolving and taking decisions on issues regarding the activities and conduct of political parties
He described the delay as a clear sign of irresponsibility, neglect and reckless behaviour on the part of the government in respecting citizens’ democratic rights.
“If the PPRC, which is one of the institutions established to regulate the affairs of political parties in the country, is yet to be constituted, to us is a serious concern for democracy. Elections are the most well established mechanisms that citizens use to exercise their franchise and hold public officials to account,” he said
He noted that elections hold tremendous promise for deepening the quality of democratic governance but they can also be problematic if the political space for parties and institutions are not well established.
Mr. Fatoma stated that there is presently no quorum for the commission to take hard decisions when political issues come up and that such was not good for a country that is striving towards deepening democracy and opening up the political space.
He urged the government to immediately appoint those that should serve as commissioners so that it can respond adequately to issues coming from political parties
According to him, the commission can only convened a meeting through the Registrar but unfortunately, the Registrar is only the administrative head and decisions needed to be vetted by the chairman and members of the commission.
“We are also aware that people have been appointed in other commissions, including the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone. We urged the government to reconstitute the PPRC because it is important than any other commission,” Mr. Fatoma noted and added that if the government was serious about our fundamental right to democracy, then institutions established by law should always be up and running
He opined that the delay leaves the country in a vacuum, whereby government only concern about people’s participation in the democratic process when it is time for election rather than it being a continuous inclusion and participation.