Information gathered by the Critique Echo reporters in Freetown has confirmed that the Christiana Thorpe’s jaw-broken nomination fees for the forthcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in the country which almost threw the electoral process into jeopardy, have been dropped unconditionally. The resolution came into force at a meeting convened by the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) for all the political parties and NEC at State House following a series of protests by opposition parties over the introduction of new and higher nomination fees. Political parties already began boycotting vantage aspects of the electioneering process as a result of the draconian resolution which was singlehandedly made by the national returning officer, Dr. Christiana Thorpe.
Early in the week, seven political parties out of the ten had announced they will boycott the nomination which will affect the smooth running of the elections because of the new fees. The parties include the main opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), National Democratic Alliance (NDA), Citizens Democratic Party (CDP), Peace and Liberation Party (PLP), United National Peoples Party (UNPP), who also collectively signed an agreement in protest against the fees. They also threatened to take the matter to court for the interpretation of ECOWAS protocol on Elections & Good Governance Section 2 Article 2(1) of which Sierra Leone is a signatory. The section states that there shouldn’t be any significant change to electoral laws of any member state in six months before an election, without the consent of the majority of the electoral players or actors. They also noted that the new fees were announced by NEC on the 30th July which is less than six months to the elections. In an interview with Bamidele Thompson Publicity Secretary of the People’s Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC), he stated that they were called by the Chairman of the PPRC to a meeting yesterday, where they were told that NEC will go back to the 2002 fees, which the political parties paid for the 2007 elections.”
Addressing the meeting, President Koroma stated that the political parties pay the nomination fees paid in 2007 and Government will subsidies the rest. He said this will be done to ensure that everyone participates in the 2012 elections and for peace and the furtherance of democracy in Sierra Leone. This statement by the president, of course, was received by many as another version of the notorious “Banyafaki” jargon since it has come as a result of intermittent pressures mounted by opposition parties against the central government through the country’s electoral body.
Political parties had earlier resisted the new nomination fees on the ground that there was no good reason to it since the National Electoral Commission wasn’t responsible to raise funds for electioneering process. Moreso, international partners had already pumped millions of dollars into the Commission in order to ensure that the forthcoming elections are free, fear and democratic.
This development is viewed by many political pundits as a sign of maturity on the side of the oppositions and it sends a clear signal to the electoral body and the ruling government that any attempt to fix the forthcoming elections would be resisted unanimously.