The Political Parties Regulation Commission (PPRC) is to draft regulations that will provide for Sierra Leoneans performing this year’s pilgrimage in Mecca and subsequent pilgrimages of all Faiths that coincide with general elections, to vote by proxy.
The leaderships of registered political parties in Sierra Leone have yesterday 1st February, 2023 agreed that the Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone (EC-SL) commences the drafting of the regulations.
The meeting was called at the instance of the Ministry of Social Welfare, who informed political parties that, the Muslim Hajj (pilgrimage) this year will coincide with the holding of Sierra Leone’s general elections, on 24th June 2023.
The ministry disclosed that authorities in Mecca in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have allocated to Sierra Leone, a quota of 1,200 Pilgrims, and that quota is likely to be taken by prospective pilgrims.
Therefore, if nothing is done, 1,200 Sierra Leoneans will be disenfranchised.
Prior to yesterday’s discussion with the PPRC, the social welfare ministry had raised this concern to the EC-SL and parliament but was subsequently referred to the PPRC, for consultation with political parties, and if it is their consensus, necessary steps will be adopted to redress the situation, without offending the ECOWAS Protocol.
Responding, the EC-SL explained to the political parties that there is no provision in the extant regulations for early voting. That if it is the consensus of political parties, the only option open for potential redress is proxy voting and even that, regulations to that effect will have to be tabled to parliament for promulgation.
The political parties expressed concerns over the promulgation of the regulations for just this one instance.
They, therefore, recommended that, EC-SL draft regulations that will tend to all pilgrimages of all faiths that may coincide with the holding of a general election, for the attention of parliament.
On another issue, the Electoral calendar issued by EC-SL was also discussed in the meeting and political parties were encouraged to regularise their status, particularly the constitution of their organs and their pre-election declarations.