By Foday Moriba Conteh
In a Press Release issued by the All Peoples Congress (APC) Party, dated 20th July 2020 and signed by Amb. Dr. Alhaji Osman Foday Yansaneh, the National Secretary General of the APC, it was categorically stated that the party takes note of a Public Notice dated 20th July 2020 in which it was announced that His Excellency President Bio has appointed Mr. Mohamed Konneh, the present head of the Financial Intelligence Unit, as a nominee to fill the vacant position of Chairman of the National Electoral Commission (NEC).
The party said it wish to inform the general public and in particular their faithful supporters that by letter dated 13th July 2020, the Secretary to the President, Dr. Julius Sandy, forwarded the Curriculum Vitae (CV) of Mr. Mohamed Konneh to the APC Secretary General and informing the APC that Mr. Konneh will be the proposed nominee of His Excellency the President to fill the vacant position of Chairman of NEC.
It furthered that the APC replied by way of a letter dated 15th July 2020 acknowledging receipt of the CV of Mr. Konneh and informing the Secretary to the President that the party will get back to His Excellency as soon as possible.
The APC Party disclosed that a day after forwarding that letter they followed it up with telephone calls including a text message to the Secretary to the President asking when it will be convenient for their party to submit its position on the issue to the President. According to them they did not receive any reply.
It stated that after consultations within their party they forwarded a letter to the Secretary to the President on the 16 July 2020 informing His Excellency the President that after due consultation with the political and legal structures of the party, the APC is of the considered view that the proposed Commissioner of NEC, Mr. Mohamed Konneh, stands disqualified given that he did not meet the conditions precedent as set out in Section 32(4)(a)&(b) of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone as he is a “Public Officer” and not on the Register of Electors .
The party quoted Section 32(4) (a) & (b) for clarity and the avoidance of any doubt:
32 (4) A person shall not be qualified—
- for appointment as a member of the Electoral Commission if he is not qualified to be elected as a Member of Parliament, or
- to hold office as a member of the Electoral Commission if he is a Minister, a Deputy Minister, a Member of Parliament, or a public officer, or if he has attained the age of sixty-five years.
APC maintained that it is their position that Mr. Mohamed Konneh, the proposed Electoral Commissioner of NEC, stands disqualified on both limbs.
Based on their position, Mr. Konneh is not qualified to be elected as a Member of Parliament because his name is not on the register of electors as required by Section 75 (b) of the 1991 Constitution. Equally ,they said, he is disqualified under Section 76(b) from being elected as a Member of Parliament as he is a “public officer” currently in the employ of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) as its Director.
They furthered that similarly, Section 32(4) (b) of the 1991 Constitution prohibits public officers from being appointed as a member of the Electoral Commission.
The APC raised the point that they have also taken due cognizant of Section 171(4) of the constitution saying they are satisfied that Mr. Mohamed Konneh doesn’t fall within the exemptions contemplated therein in view of the High Court rulings in election petition matters involving Suliama Marray Conteh as petitioner and Osman Abdal
Timbo as respondent before the Hon. Justice Komba Kamanda (J) and Emmanuel Sahr Gbeki and Hariyatu Ariana Bangura presided over by Justice Alhaji Momoh Jah Stevens (J). They said until those judgments are overturned they are the laws of the land.
According to them, the APC is surprised that instead of engaging the party further on the issues raised by their letter of the 16th July 2020 and do proper consultations pursuant to Section 32 (3) of the 1991 Constitution, the President proceeded to appoint Mr. Mohamed Konneh as Commissioner of NEC.
The party revealed that let there be no doubt that their position is that Mr. Mohamed Konneh is disqualified to be appointed Commissioner of NEC adding how the party stands ready to institute legal proceedings to enforce strict adherence to the provisions of the 1991 Constitution.