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Saturday, January 29, 2022

PRESS STATEMENT BY THE CONSORTIUM OF PROGRESSIVE POLITICAL PARTIES (COPPP) MADE ON THE OCCASION OF PARLIAMENTARY APPROVAL SESSION ON THE SLPP GOVERNMENT’S IMPOSITION OF MRS ZAINAB MORSERAY AS NEC COMMISSIONER, WESTERN REGION

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PRESS STATEMENT BY THE CONSORTIUM OF PROGRESSIVE POLITICAL PARTIES (COPPP) MADE ON THE OCCASION OF PARLIAMENTARY APPROVAL SESSION ON THE SLPP GOVERNMENT’S IMPOSITION OF MRS ZAINAB MORSERAY AS NEC COMMISSIONER, WESTERN REGION.
27TH OCTOBER 2021


Today, this twenty seventh day of October in the year two thousand and twenty one, marks another important milestone in the annals of democracy in Sierra Leone. Progressive opposition parties in Parliament have spoken with one voice on behalf of the people of Sierra Leone: that we will no longer tolerate the dictatorial actions of the current SLPP Government and their persistent violations of the Constitution.

You will recall that on the 16th of September 2021, we the members of the Consortium of Progressive Political Parties (COPPP) signed a Memorandum of Understanding in which we declared as our main aim, “to defend democracy in Sierra Leone and to vigorously oppose all types of political oppression, intimidation and authoritarian tendencies.” The Consortium further agreed to instruct their representatives in Parliament to consult and agree on common positions to be taken on items listed on the Order Paper because “it is important that the Consortium is working and seen to be working as a united front in Parliament.”

This is why we are here today to stand by our members of Parliament who have responded to our call to condemn the imposition of Mrs. Zainab Morseray as Commissioner for the Western Region at the National Electoral Commission (NEC) by staging a peaceful walk out from Parliament.
This action today is a signal to the Government that the people of Sierra Leone have simply had enough. The people are aware of the irregular and undemocratic manner in which the Speaker was imposed on our Parliament. The people are aware of how elected opposition Members of Parliament were physically thrown out of Parliament to be replaced by SLPP Members, not through bye election but by court decision. The people are aware that contrary to the provisions of section 32 subsection (3) of the 1991 Constitution which stipulates that members of the Electoral Commission shall be appointed “after consultation with the leaders of all registered political parties and subject to approval of Parliament,” the Government would either not consult all registered parties or would simply notify them after making the appointment. This violation of procedure which provoked a lot of controversy when the current Chief Electoral Commissioner was being appointed is again being repeated with the imposition of Mrs. Zainab Morseray.

Had the political parties been consulted the President would have had the opportunity to know the reasons why over 50% of registered political parties in Sierra Leone consider Mrs. Morseray to be most unsuitable for a position at the Electoral Commission. Political parties are in a better position to assess Mrs. Morseray’s suitability having interacted with her for nearly a decade at the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC).

Throughout her carrier at the PPRC, she worked only in an acting capacity because two successive regimes, APC and SLPP, could not be convinced of her reliability and ability to hold the substantive position of Registrar of the Commission. Indeed, the roots of most of the divisions and conflicts that are besetting some opposition political parties today have been traced to her manipulations and machinations in the service of the ruling party. In the period between the demise of the former Chairman of the PPRC, Justice Hamilton and the appointment of the current Chairman, she completely bypassed the authority of the NEC Chairman who is ex-officio Member of the PPRC and set up an empire of her own, creating bank accounts, designating signatories and embarking on projects. During the same period, questions were raised over her integrity that led the All Political Parties Association (APPA) at the time to approach the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) with a request for investigation into her activities.

You will all agree that the position of Commissioner at NEC is of such a sensitive nature and has such implications for the integrity of our electoral processes and our democracy that it is extremely risky and suspicious for Government to be insisting on appointing an individual with such a poor track record and who certainly does not command the trust of more than half of the registered political parties in the country.

At a time when the whole country is celebrating the advent of an historic legislation that would usher in women’s empowerment in Sierra Leone, it is indeed regrettable that this Government’s appointment of NEC Commissioner for the Western Region is so unrepresentative of the high caliber of women leaders that Sierra Leone can boast of in both national and international affairs.

We totally reject Mrs. Morseray as NEC Commissioner. By insisting on imposing her we are convinced that the Government has a hidden agenda with regard to the forthcoming elections. If she sits at the Commission, the business of NEC shall no longer be smooth and the entire electoral process will be a bumpy ride to 2023 simply because more than 50% of the Commission’s clients disapprove of her membership at NEC.

Finally, let us celebrate and continue to foster the unity of the opposition for the liberation of our people; because in spite of Government’s habit of ignoring or disrespecting our views, we are a pillar of democracy and we shall fight until the tyranny we are living under today is broken. Soon and very soon, we shall overcome!

Long live democracy!
Long live COPPP!
Long live the Republic of Sierra Leone!

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