After successfully conducting the presidential and parliamentary elections, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) announced yesterday that July 5th had been slated for the battling of 475 local council seats nationwide.
During a briefing at the British Council Auditorium, N’fie Conteh disclosed that the delimitation was based purely on the census and the elections in 2007.
He added that for this year’s local council election “there is going to be 19 local councils which are made of five city councils: Freetown, Bo, Makeni, Koidu, New Sembehun, and Kenema cities; one municipal council in Bonthe, and 13 districts”.
Continuing he noted that, “this provides for six mayors for the cities and municipalities, 13 district council chairpersons and 456 councillors”.
According to the statistician, “NEC has the mandate to delimit the council of ward from the Local Government Act where it is stated that every council has at least 12 seats and so distributing these seats is very crucial that is why the process is very important and expensive and highly political because some districts would want to have more seats and some political parties would also want to have more seats than others”.
Speaking on the parliamentary by-election, NEC’s executive secretary Aiah Mattia disclosed that a total of four parliamentary seats were vacant as a result of some members of parliament being appointed as ministers.
He disclosed further that an increase would be made depending on the petitions before the court.
According to the constitution, Mr Mattia said, “a by-election should be conducted six months after the appointment of any MP as a minister and so since the appointment took place in October then the by-election would be conducted in March. And this election is going to follow the same pattern as the parliamentary and presidential elections, the same people that voted are going to be the same people who will vote in these by-elections at these constituencies. And for the petitions before the court whenever the court gives its decision then we will also hold a by-election six months after that date.”
On the types of election to be conducted, the chief of procedure May Mckormoc said two elections would be conducted simultaneously for the mayor or chairpersons as well as for the councillors.
He disclosed that independent candidates might also contest the elections using any symbol from a range of symbols to be provided by NEC.
In her opening remarks the chief electoral commissioner, Dr Christian Thorpe, said “we are back with round two of the race. We have finished the general election which is now behind us. Democracy and elections are on going.”
She added that the local council election which had been slated for July made NEC and Statistics spent their Christmas and New Year’s working, and that they had started the deliberations with their stakeholders.