The Chief Electoral Commissioner, Christiana Thorpe has advanced reasons for the postponement of presidential and legislative elections from 28 July to 11 August.
Speaking to journalists at the headquarters of the National Electoral Commission at Wellington outside Freetown, Dr Thorpe said, constitutionally, parliament cannot dissolve before 25 June since their first sitting was ion 25 June 2002.
This, she went on, would not allow ample time for the commission to hold credible elections.
The NEC boss went on to say that the president’s tenure ends on the day the final results are declared hence President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah’s second five-year term will end on 14 May 2007.
“…If we were going to have separate elections then we have no problem but because we as a nation we would not be able to run two separate elections so we have to find a time within the constitutional legal framework where we can have both parliamentary and presidential elections together.” Dr Thorpe said.
However, quoting constitutional provisions, Dr Thorpe said the president was allowed to stay in office, for as along as elections were pending.
“So that is why even when the President’s term in office finishes on the 14 May he has to hold on for three months which will be in August 14,” the chief Electoral Commissioner emphasized,
“Whatever we say, Presidential elections must be completed before August 14, because we are bound by the constitution.” Dr Thorpe declared
She said Parliamentary elections could hold anytime between July 25 (thirty days after dissolution of parliament) and 25 September (ninety days after dissolution). But the fact that both elections are holding at the same time, both elections had to be held before the president’s extended mandate ends.
The chief electoral commissioner agreed that rains would affect turnout as has been postulated by large sections of the public, but that they had no alternative as they were bound by the constitution.
She said to address this, they had recommended to the Law Reform Commission to stipulate a definite time for both Parliamentary and Presidential elections like it obtains in America.